BY SUNDAY EGEDE/ANTHONY UDOH
WHEN the Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan-led administration came on board on May 29, 2007, it unfolded a well articulated policy frame work of its developmental plans for Deltans, irrespective of political party affiliation, religious inclination and ethnic background. The policy frame work was encapsulated in the three-point development agenda of the state government which include human capital development, infrastructure development and peace and security.
Honestly, the state government has been very passionate in the faithful implementation of its three-point development agenda. For instance, in the area of infrastructure development which is within the matrix of the three-point agenda, the Uduaghan-led administration has performed excellently well. Only recently, the ultra-modern building at Saint Patrick’s College, Asaba built by the state government was commissioned by the Senate President, Senator David Mark.
Speaking during the ceremony, Mark said that education was the best investment that one scould make in life, adding that there was no alternative to it (good education). According to him, once you invest in the education of your children, you have given them the best because with good education, they can survive and the society will be better for all. He noted that most administrations in the country do not bother about the incentive for teachers.
“There is no way in which we can improve the quality of education without looking after the welfare of teachers. A situation where teachers are not paid on time, where we do not bother about their welfare, where they now abandon their pupils or students and go and look elsewhere to earn a living, is totally unacceptable and I am glad that Governor Uduaghan is after the welfare of teachers in the Delta State”, he stated.
While saying that infrastructure development in schools also affects the children in school, he pointed out that “we must look back at our educational system because, all the development efforts that we are making will come to naught if we do not have people who are educated. So, if we do not invest in education, then we would have a problem”.
The Senate President thanked Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for giving back Saint Patrick’s College, Asaba, and other missionary schools in the state back to their original owners, adding that the day Nigeria went wrong in its educational system was the day government took over schools from the mission. Meanwhile, he urged the missionaries to manage the schools that were handed over to them.
In his speech, Governor Uduaghan said that the commissioning of the ultra-modern school building at SPC, Asaba, was to showcase to the world, some of the things that the state government was doing in the education sector, adding that “we believe very seriously in the human capital development and our human capital development starts from the day a child is born”.
The Governor who disclosed that his administration’s strategy for education was in three-folds, also said that the first strategy was to ensure that every child in Delta State has access to education without funding being a hindrance, pointing out that that was why the state government ensured that the issue of levies and other issues of payment for examinations, both internal and external, were removed since 2007 to date as the state government was responsible for the funding of primary and secondary education in the state.
Secondly, he said, there must be significant improvement in the staffing of the educational sector both in terms of numbers and quality and “when we came in, we embarked on massive employment of teachers to cover the rural areas. Governor Uduaghan added that “we still have some gaps in the numbers of teachers that we need to employ but we are doing it as the fund becomes available. We are also improving the quality of teachers in terms of training and re-training”.
While saying that the third fold centres on infrastructure development, the governor said his administration was currently working in about 1,500 schools across the state, both primary and secondary, pointing out that some of them were already completed just as he said that some were at various stages of completion. “We are working in a lot of schools in the state and we believe that the quality of our educational standard must be of the highest standard”, he added.
According to him, Delta State has the highest number of primary and secondary schools in Nigeria as well as the highest students’ population in terms of primary and secondary education in the country. “Though we have handed some schools like the SPC to the mission, we have not abandoned them (the schools) because we are still going ahead working on them as if they are still being run by the state government. We are going ahead with the infrastructure development of the schools because it is our children that will attend the schools”, the governor stated.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, said in line with its three-point agenda, the state government, sometime in 2010, came up with the idea of upgrading 12 selected secondary schools and the construction of a brand new one in the state to meet international standards, adding that Saint Patrick’s College, Asaba, was one of the selected secondary schools which cut across the three senatorial districts in the state.
In addition to the upgrading of these schools, Muoboghare said, it is heart-warming to note that the state government is carrying out massive construction of new schools and renovation of existing ones across the state with the aim of providing our pupils and students in primary and secondary schools with good learning environment like their counterparts in the first world.
“The structure before us accommodates 24 classrooms, a principal’s office, vice principals’ offices, staff rooms, library, laboratories and a well equipped information communication technology centre. It also houses a standard Home Economics Laboratory”, he said, pointing out that “the project comes complete with a 100 KVA stand-by generator which will soon be of little use, considering the vigour with which the Delta State Government is pursing its power production, transmission and distribution project.
BY SUNDAY EGEDE/ANTHONY UDOH