Friday, June 24, 2011

Governor Rochas: Declare State Of Emergency in State Public Schools

Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State

Governor Rochas: Declare State Of Emergency in State Public Schools

~ By Nwaorgu Faustinus

Though the 2011general elections in Imo state have come and gone, with particular reference to the governorship polls where the people’s candidate, Rochas Okorocha defeated the incumbent governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim who did not leave any stone unturned in opening his frightful financial political muscle in order to perpetuate himself in office, which of course did fail. What is the trend now are the comments, analyses, advice, suggestions, opinions and articles against and for the legality behind the dissolution of the 27 LGAs by the new administration in Imo State.

Primary School Pupils. Photo Credit: Imo State Blog

Now that the parties involved (the state government and the dissolved Council LGAs) are locked in a legal battle over the dissolution of the Council Areas, which is the constitutional thing to do, one can not forget in a hurry the first casualties of Oweelle Rochas’s action as he assumed office which political analysts and observers say will ever remain indelible in the minds of many. The court having taken over the
case, there should be cessation of comments because a case or dispute as the above is not trashed out on pages of newspapers or internet based media sites but in a competent court of law.

The kernel of this piece is the challenges or Herculean tasks that stare the state government in the face with respect to the education sector, which are multifaceted given the lean resources at its prudent use. One major area Chief Rochas Okorocha must take proactive step to revolutionalize is the education sector among other sectors. The importance of education is so invaluable that any state, society country or nation cannot toy with it. Education without mincing words is enlightenment and avenue of advancement which ought to be sustained for generation as according to Sunday Atomode, “it is a legacy which when bestowed cannot be withdrawn on any account except perhaps through inhuman degradation of brainwashing or disease that cause memory lost”. Therefore, education remains the upholder of the expectation, hope and yearnings for the poorest of the poor of society.

Without doubt, it is the eternal bequest any society, government,
administration or nation can give its citizen or natives. It is
therefore a commendable first step taken by the governor when he
announced that his government will give free education to primary and
secondary school students as well as review downwards school fees paid
in higher institutions as part of his party’s campaign promise and
education policy.

To achieve its education policy, the security votes of the Governor,
Deputy Governor, the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, the Chief Judge and
House Members was cut from 6.5 billion naira to 2.5 billion naira.
Given the premium the governor attaches to education, unlike previous
administrations, he toured many several primary and secondary schools
to have first hand information about the state of affairs in the
educational institutions which are in great pathetic situation,
capable of making one sigh, sad and wonder why the schools are the way
they are.

Given the deplorable state of most public primary and secondary
schools in Imo State, one wonders if the free education policy of the
current administration is a way of declaring a state of emergency in
that sector. If it is not, a total war should be unleashed in the
sector bearing in mind the mammoth decay in our citadels of learning
across the various Local Government Areas. A visit to most schools
will reveal great decay in infrastructure such as school buildings,
libraries, classrooms, toilets, laboratories among others. Amala/Ntu
Secondary School in Ngor/Okpala LGA can be used as a good reference
point of a school that has witnessed infrastructural decay and neglect
by previous administration on one hand and vandalization at the other.
Apart from these, there is depopulation of staff and students’
population in many rural primary and secondary schools, inadequate
teaching materials and seats. In the time past, it was a tradition or
policy of the government to equip schools with seats but today most
students, if not all go to market to purchase seats they use in

In addition to free education given to primary and secondary school
students, the present administration should as a matter of urgency
renovate and build new structures that will accommodate new students,
poor students who dropped out of school and students who will leave
private schools soon for public schools as a result of the
introduction of free education in the state. Similarly, old or non
functional principal and teachers quarters should be renovated and new
ones built to accommodate some categories of teachers. Furthermore,
the governor should put a programme of action in place with a view to
making it compulsory for teachers to live in the school environment in
order to monitor the behaviour of students apart from being available
to assist them solve academic problems that are related to subjects
they teach. Their salary should be paid as at when due and promotion
extended to deserving ones to encourage them put in their best.

On the issue of limited number of staff in some primary and secondary
schools, the state government should deploy more teachers to schools
where their services are needed as there are schools that lack
teachers who will teach certain subjects. Lateness to school should
not be tolerated as there should be mechanism put in place to monitor
teachers. In this regard, unscheduled visits should be paid to schools
where the culture of late coming has been established with a view to
punishing culprits to serve as a deterrent to others. If need be,
teachers who are perpetual late comers should be dismissed. Students
who come to school late should also be punished adequately to
discourage others from doing the same.

Security in and around state public schools especially primary and
secondary schools should be encouraged by way of providing security
guards for the schools to protect life and property. Apart from
security, the state government should equip libraries, introductory
technology workshops, science laboratories among others in state
public schools. It is now the trend to set up computer laboratories to
encourage the teaching of computer in primary and secondary schools.
The state government should key into this by establishing computer
laboratory in the schools.

There should be training and retraining of teachers so as to gain
effective means of imparting knowledge into the students. This will go
along way in making the students to compete favourably with their
counterparts abroad.

Finally, the state government if need be, should borrow a leaf from
the education policy of Rivers State government if the words of Mr.
Abdulwaheed Omar, President of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) is any
thing to go by. According to him, "As a professional teacher I can
testify that the new schools built by the administration are a
reflection of focused leadership. As a teacher I am highly impressed
with this kind of school facilities provided by the Rivers State
Government for its children."

It could be recalled that governor Amaechi declared state of emergency
in the education sector when he assumed the administration of Rivers
State. Today, he has given a facelift to the sector.

Nwao(r)gu, Faustinus Chilee writes from Igboetche, Port Harcourt,
Rivers State. Mobile: +2348035601312.

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