We Won’t Hand Over Unity School To States —FG

PARTNERS UN TO SECURE SCHOOLS NATIONWIDE
BY SUNDAY EGEDE
Contrary to speculation making the rounds in some quarters that the federal government was planning to hand over unity schools in the country to state governments, the Federal Ministry of Education said that there was no iota of truth in the claim.
The Director, Basic and Secondary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, Barr Daniel Chike Uwaezuoke, who dispelled the speculation during the 17th annual speech and prize giving day ceremony of Federal Government Girls’ College (FGGC), Ibusa, Delta State, urged Nigerians to discountenance the speculation which, he said, was baseless.
He disclosed that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari was not in any way thinking of handing over unity schools in the country to state governments, adding that the federal authorities was trying to turn unity schools in Nigeria around for enhanced productivity.
“You will discover that these unity schools, even though they are the destination of most parents, there are still a lot of work to be done in the schools because of long period of military rule in the country which led to infrastructural decay. From what we are doing (packaging for this present administration), Buhari’s administration is not looking at that direction of handing over the unity schools”, Uwaezuoke said.
According to him, parents and guardians should leverage on the various windows of opportunities created by the government to come on board and partner with the federal government in the development of schools in the country as government cannot continue to do everything all alone, considering its dwindling financial resources.
He stressed the need for active private sector participation in the development of schools, pointing out that it is not out of place for Parents Teachers Association (PTA); School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) and corporate bodies to assist government in its educational development programmes for the people.
Uwaezuoke, who was speaking in an interview with journalists during the ceremony, said that he was quite impressed with the exhibitions of the students of FGGC, Ibusa, which, he said, have clearly demonstrated that the management of the college was imparting basic skills and knowledge on the students in the college in line with the educational policy frame work of the federal government.
“With what we have seen in the exhibition ground in the college, one can say that students in this college were doing excellently well and with the skills that they have acquired, they would end up becoming big time entrepreneurs and employers of labour in the nearest future”, the Director concluded.
Also speaking in an interview, the Director/Principal of the College, Dr. (Mrs.) Helen Uwaezuoke, who enjoined teachers in the college to continue to put in their best in character formation, academic growth and development of the students under their tutelage, listed some of the challenges confronting the school to include infrastructural deficiency, erosion menace and paucity of funds among others, even as she solicited assistance from stakeholders in the education sector of the nation’s economy to enable the management of the school surmount the problems.
Meanwhile, The Federal Government is collaborating with the United Nations, (UN) Special Envoy on Global Education to ensure security in all schools in the country.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Dr MacJohn Nwaobiala, disclosed this in an address he delivered at the annual Speech and Prize-Giving Day ceremony of King’s College, Lagos.
The Permanent Secretary, who was the special guest of honour at the event, said the collaboration was aimed at providing a pragmatic response to the protection of schools.
He added that it was also to prevent future attacks in schools across the country.
According to him, the initiative is equally in a bid to ensure uninterrupted education for the Nigerian-child.
‘’The Federal Government in collaboration with the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Mr Gordon Brown, and a coalition of Nigeria Business leaders, introduced the Safe Schools Initiative.
‘’Through this intervention, the Federal Government is also reconstructing the infrastructure of schools destroyed as well as protecting children’’, he said.
The Permanent Secretary called on school authorities to intensify sensitization programmes to ensure that unhygienic practices that created high risk conditions for the spread of ebola disease are adequately addressed.
Nwaobiala said government had, in an effort to achieve a more conducive learning environment in Unity Colleges, continued to provide educational facilities which include e-library.
He added that emphasis had also been laid on training and re-training of teachers for effective teaching and learning outcomes.
‘’New teaching staff have also been recruited to address the shortage of teachers in the Federal Unity Colleges.
‘’ICT and Trade subjects for entrepreneurship as compulsory cross-cutting core subjects have been introduced.
‘’These efforts are aimed at providing the required skills for job creation , poverty reduction and making our students self reliant for sustainable national development.’’
He commended parents for their sacrifices to ensure their children acquire quality education and teachers for their commitment to education and the success of their students.
He urged the graduating students to be worthy ambassadors of the college as well as strive to assist their alma-matar.
Earlier in his address, the Principal of the college, Mr Oladele Olapeju, expressed concern over government’s policies on education which he said tended to lay undue emphasis on examinations to the detriment of knowledge acquisition.
‘’While agreeing that examination is essential in measuring learning achievement, the situation is very disturbing as our graduating students spend almost five months criss-crossing one examination hall to the other with barely little time to study.
‘’The experience is too harrowing and on the long run costly to knowledge acquisition.
‘’The Joined Admissions and Matriculation Board must strive to adjust its examination date to July ending every year in order to allow the final year students concentrate on their studies’’, he said.
Olapaju said another similar disturbing issue in the school calendar was the issue of time for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), which was often completed early in May.
He noted that students at this level sit at home idle for months awaiting to transit to SS 1.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that four major projects in the college comprising two state-of-the art barbing saloons, an ICT laboratory, staff quarters and a 360KVA generator were inaugurated during the event.