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Sustaining, upgrading Anambra’s lead in education

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EDUCATION is the bedrock of development. No meaningful development will take place in any society without provision of quality education to the citizenry. It is in the light of the importance of education that the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, since inception of office in March, 2014, till date, invested so much in the development of educational sector in Anambra State.

  Governor Obiano’s achievements in the education sector have remained impressive. He approached education in three broad areas – infrastructural development, pupils/students development, and teachers’ welfare. An educationist, Mrs Ngozi Aniegbo said that Anambra State had maintained an enviable position in examinations like WAEC and NECO as well as national and international educational competitions.

  She said that Anambra State took third position at the World Schools Debate Championship in Singapore, in 2020, and is the current champion in the national Pre-basic Debate Competition. The same debate team from Anambra State defeated the debate team from the 80-year old Katung Secondary School in Singapore in January, this year.

  Governor Obiano sees to the welfare of teachers, which is why teachers in the state put in their best in executing their duties. Aniegbo recalled that a teacher from Anambra State, Rose Nkemdilim Obi won last year’s National Teacher of the Year Award.

  A retired civil servant Ben Okoye observed that despite lean resources, Governor Obiano’s administration had done a lot in the development of the educational sector in the state. The state government had disbursed the sum of N733 million to mission schools, renovated 1000 units of 10-classroom blocks and awarded scholarships estimated at N30 million to over 200 students. With the motivation, successes were recorded.

  He said that the state government sustained previous effort in the return of mission schools to their owners. Through “value-based and quality education policy,” Governor Obiano’s administration, he said, had given greater attention to public schools through increased funding, to encourage excellence.

  The government has renovated over 1,000 units of 10 classroom blocks in both primary and junior secondary schools and completed phase two of the construction and equipment of 1, 500 classroom blocks for primary schools. Adult literacy increased to over 80 per cent as government established schools in the markets in the state. In the same vein, there has been an increase in enrolment of girls by 30 per cent. Primary school enrolment and retention also increased from 64 per cent to 90 per cent.

  A retired principal, Ifeanyi Nnaji, said a lot had been done in enhancing education in Anambra State. He said that the state government, under Obiano “s administration was able to secure accreditation in 13 trade subjects in four technical colleges in the state. He added that beside regular payment of emoluments, a lot of incentives were given to teachers who took up assignment in difficult areas and those who teach core subjects like mathematics, science, English and Igbo language.

  Teachers were trained regularly. Nnaji disclosed that more than 1,210 primary school teachers across the state had been trained under the health service programme. Scholarship has also been awarded to indigent students, displaced persons and those with disabilities. Recently, a scholarship of over N30 million was awarded to over 200 students to encourage excellence.

  According to Nnaji, Anambra State has disbursed N733,000000 to mission schools to enable them renovate, re-equip their facilities to ensure the production of quality students. The state also sponsored about 23 vocational education teachers to Singapore in 2015, and distributed thousands of two-seater iron frame desks in primary and junior secondary schools in over 60 communities in the state.

  Tertiary institutions were not left out. Higher institutions in the state have received a lot of attention. The result of these efforts is a leap in the transformation of the education sector. Records showed that between 2015 and 2017, two teachers, Rose Nkemdilim Obi and Clement Nwoye Okudo, beat other teachers in Nigeria to emerge the best teachers.

  It was widely reported on the media that Anambra State, in 2018, put Nigeria on top of the technology map of the world after a global contest when five students of Regina Pacis Model Secondary School, Onitsha, who represented Nigeria and Africa at the World Technovation Challenge in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, USA, won the coveted Gold Medal.

  Within the period, Tochukwu Anyigbo, from Ihiala, who was personally sponsored in the competition by Governor Obiano, took the third position in the Global Robotics Competition in Mexico.

  Saint John’s Science and Technical College, Alor in Idemili South Local Government Area took the third position in the International Festival of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), held in Tunisia, in 2019.

  In 2020, Anambra reportedly took first position in the 2020 examination into the highly competitive Federal Government School for Gifted Children, Abuja.  Anambra State also came tops in the 2020 National Common Entrance Examination results released by the National Examinations Council (NECO).

  Out of over 70,000 candidates, who sat for the Common Entrance Examination nationwide, Crucifixio Chinua Umeonyiagu, a pupil of God’s Wisdom International Primary School, Nnewi, took the first position, scoring 199 marks out of 200. The result, brought on the front burner, Anambra State’s leadership in education in Nigeria.

  A legal luminary, Okey Obi noted that successes recorded in educational sector in Anambrs State also extended to the tertiary institutions. Two universities in the state, namely, Nnamdi Azikiwe University and Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University were among the three tops in another academic competition in Lagos.

  During an annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), final year and post graduate students from Nigerian universities participated in the Basin Evaluation Competition, organised by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). At the end of the competition, Nnamdi Azikiwe University and Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University emerged second and third positions respectively, beating all other universities in Nigeria.

  Francis Chijioke Osakwe from Umuoji in Idemili North Local Government Area scored an ‘A1’ in each of the nine subjects he took in the 2020 West African School Certificate Examinations.

  Ego Maduafokwa from Ihiala, and David Nwobi from Njikoka Local Government Areas, scored the highest marks in the 2020 Joint Admissions and Matriculation Examination (JME)

  Favour Obiajulu Okeke from Eziowelle, in Idemmili North Local Government Area, took the first position in the competition organised by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology for outstanding science secondary school students in the country last year. Nelson Uwakwe from British Spring College, Awka, took the second position in the 2020 competition.

  The same year, Government Technical College, Onitsha, took the third position in the national Junior Engineers, Technicians and Scientists (JETS) Expo in Abuja, which had in attendance President Muhammadu Buhari.

  On the secret behind all these successes Anambra had recorded so far in education, Commissioner for Education, Anambra State, Prof. Kate Omenugha gave an answer in her speech on the 27th Edition of Anambra Scorecard, hosted by Ifeanyi Aniagoh, Senior Special Assistant to Gov Obiano on Social Media.

  According to Professor Omenugha, Governor Obiano had through a threepoint thrust in education, namely, infrastructure, teachers’ and students’ welfare, given education in the state the best attention.

   She explained that the blueprint of Gov. Obiano is very clear with the strategic objective of making sure that the learning needs of all are met through equitable distribution of resources.

  The commissioner said that on infrastructure in education, through Anambra State Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB), the governor has renovated schools, both at the primary and junior secondary school levels and over one thousand classroom blocks had been provided across the 21 local government areas of the state.

  There is a total revamping ongoing programme in the 11 technical colleges in Anambra, which were non-accredited and near moribund. Omenugha explained that the revamping programme taking place in the technical colleges will create employment because youths will be trained on technical know-how which will enable them to contribute meaningfully to the state’s economy.

  She highlighted teachers’ welfare packages to include; increase in their salary, paying of 20% of basic salary to teachers who are posted and retained in some difficult-to-access areas of the state and also giving of stipends as incentives to teachers who teach core subjects.

  Professor Omenugha added that a lot of capacity building had been done for the teachers example, for the Singapore trip where 23 teachers were selected to learn the Singaporean model of education.

  The state government cleared the backlog of salaries, arrears and pensions owed teachers. The commission said of all the things that kept churning out were chunks of arrears of salaries owed teachers across the federation but that Anambra became the toast of all present.  On the development of tertiary institutions in Anambra, Omenugha said, “Since governor Obiano came on board, what he has done in the state-owned institutions is to ensure transparency. He set up governing councils for these institutions.

  “He also increased subvention of these institutions, more than 200% increase, so that they can pay their salaries conveniently.

  “We know about the medical students of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University who had been there for 10 years, they were recently graduated and given automatic employment by Willie Obiano.”

  Anambra Weekly reports that not even COVID-19 could put a stop to academic activities in Anambra. “While most states were still scratching their heads over the dilemma posed by the pandemic, Anambra had responded with the highly innovative teaching-on-Air programme for primary and secondary schools.

  Through his interest and investment in education, Governor Obiano’s administration has no doubt, proven to all that Anambra is indeed, the Light of the Nation.

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