Editor’s note: Public affairs analyst, N.Brown writes on the educational revolution in Akwa Ibom state spearheaded by the massive investments in the sector by Governor Udom Emmanuel in the last five years plus.
“In 2021 we have declared war on education the same way we declared on healthcare in the state before Covid-19. We have a comprehensive education agenda….We have been compiling and we are going to launch out aggressively”. – Gov Udom Emmanuel, Jan 3, 2021.
It was heartwarming to hear Akwa Ibom state governor, Udom Emmanuel reaffirm on January 3, 2021, at the Government House Banquet Hall, during a special solemn assembly to usher in the New Year 2021 and rededicate the state to God, that revolution in the education sector will form the crux of the Akwa Ibom state government’s focus in 2021.
According to the governor, the revolution, best described as a war in the education sector, comes with a physical revamp of infrastructure, retraining of teachers, employment of new ones, and security of facilities.
It seems the ex-banker turned politician is on the offensive as he launches an all-out onslaught against all the ills militating against the attainment of an educational system that is geared to dealing with 21st-century challenges in a dynamic and rapidly changing world.
Under the governor’s new educational policy, his dream is to create an educational system where the products can graduate and become employers of labour themselves. That way, the private sector will become the fulcrum of the economy.
It is always argued that rational people will always adopt what they consider the most effective means towards the end they seek and Governor Emmanuel understands that if Akwa Ibom state is to take full advantage of the economic benefits of the soon to take off multi-billion dollars investments such as the Ibom Deep Sea Port and the Liberty Free Trade Zone, our educational system must be overhauled, redesigned and repositioned to produce the much needed technical and skilled manpower the sector may need.
The governor is convinced that we must tackle the rot in our educational system. To him, the Akwa Ibom of our dream cannot be fulfilled to take advantage of the emerging economic dividends in the offing without being backed with an educational system that produces the majority of critical stakeholders and manpower to run Akwa Ibom’s future multi-billion dollars investments and enterprises.
As he has said often, the recession and COVID-19 pandemic will go or may recede but the devastating economic pains that it came with will take time to subside. This he has repeatedly said is why Africa must come together to fashion out homegrown solutions to our problems as what works for the developed world may not produce the same results here even if we domesticate the same.
Under the education revolution, massive investments are targeted at basic education at the primary level which is the most crucial being the formative stage. Governor Emmanuel believes if we must mould the Akwa Ibom child to be better prepared for the future we all seek, teachers must be better trained to impact up-to-date skills and knowledge because in grooming the child, we cannot avoid our past and what fires a child’s memories are incidents of childhood, during a child’s formative years when energies abound and ripped with raw activities, when minds were malleable, idealism gaped with errors, when a child has imagination without judgement and strength unseasoned with guile.
This explains the government’s huge allocation and spendings on schools’ renovation and reconstruction, teachers training and retraining to build capacity towards improving service delivery thus creating a conducive learning environment that can help groom the Akwa Ibom child did the envisaged future we seek.
The governor has not only declared an emergency in the education sector because his action is aimed at addressing the serious unseriousness that hitherto pervaded the sector by some stakeholders but because he realises that a deficient educational system is as dangerous as a society without an educational system at all. Allowing the trend of the past to go unchecked would have amounted to surrendering to institutional decay.
An effective, efficient and forward-looking educational system will lead to the emergence of a group of core skilled workforce that can fit in thus creating a high level of employment which will lead to stability and make the standard of living more condusive to democratic aspirations because if we allow the sector to continue as it were, the state’s developmental plan will be distorted and incapable of maintaining a balance.
Governor Udom Emmanuel’s philosophy is that if we must reform our economy, we must first reform our educational system because while Direct Foreign Investment is good, it will not lead to the prosperity we seek if we do not produce the majority of experts to dominate critical sectors of the state’s economy. The governor’s vision is to have an educational system that will give our productive sector drive, purpose, and vitality so that it will put the vast majority of unemployed youths to work. By so doing, the government safeguards internal security because a prosperous society is no longer a danger unto itself because a productive workforce and a strong middle class are the best guarantors of democracy.
The revolution adopted in Akwa Ibom’s educational sector is aimed at changing the narrative and reversing the case where the so-called local content policy is more mantra than practice. It is aimed at creating a system and a future where wealth is not for consumption alone but to empower the society for more wealth, after all, the best revolutions are reforms that in the long run becomes revolutions.
As part of the reforms, an education summit was held to fashion out new ways of doing things to achieve new results.
The State Secondary Education Board (SSEB), made a presentation before the State Executive Council on November 23, 2020, where her chairman, Dr. Ekaette Ebong Okon observed that it is pertinent to note that the state of our schools is indeed a far cry from what it should be in all the areas, hence, the need for urgent intervention.
This submission necessitated the need for urgent teacher’s recruitment to fill in the vacancies. The government has commenced the process of recruiting 1000 teachers into the State Secondary School system as part of her education reform agenda.
With the recent cabinet reshuffle and a new commissioner for education saddled with the responsibility of implementing the government’s new revolutionary reforms, it is hoped that things will surely turn out for good and a new, effective, efficient, and result-oriented educational system will birth in Akwa Ibom state.
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