Tertiary Education: The Okowa Landmarksin

In the face of the fact of the dwindle in the state and national economies, the performance of the administration in this regard at a time that most other state governments are scrapping such schemes, is not only alluring but much more so on account of the fact that, as you read this piece afresh, the board may have firmed up action to pay many more such beneficiaries , following the state government’s encouraging enablement in this direction.
In an effort to boost the accelerated development of infrastructure in the institution, the Okowa administration gave a grant of N100m to support the tempo of infrastructure development at the Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro.
A stoic expression of the utilisation of this grant is evident in the impressive 14,000 sitter stadium in the institution, the first such facility in any tertiary school in the country.
In order to enable the State School of Marine Technology (SMT), Burutu, effectively exercise its mandate, the administration has had to ensure the accreditation of its academic programmes and provide facilities as chairs, benches and life jackets to it.
As part of its efforts at ensuring that the opportunities for higher education available to Deltans are significantly increased, the Okowa government has amended the law establishing the College of Physical Education, Mosogar, to make it a comprehensive College of Education. This has firmed up the school to admit students into many more departments in the college than is otherwise possible.
The Okowa administration has equally enabled the authorities of the School of Health Technology, Ufuoma, near Ughelli, to have its academic programmes duly accredited. Obviously, this is a welcome development, Landmarksin the face of the fact of its obvious lack before the Okowa administration came on board.
In order to put them in proper stead, the Okowa administration has proactively inaugurated the governing councils of all of its tertiary institutions as part of the efforts to enhance their capacity for effective mandate exercise.
In response to the growing need for the enhancement of the applicable level of hostel accommodation in its tertiary schools, the administration has equally adopted the public/private partnership (PPP) model.
Obviously, this is in reaction to the fact that, in the light of the prevailing economic circumstances, the administration, given its ebbing financial receipts, is not in a position to consistently provide hostel accommodation for the teeming students of its higher schools.
As part of its revolutionary approach to the funding of tertiary education in the state, the government, under the watch of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, has introduced and began implementing a policy computing and making the schools’ internally-generated revenue (IGR) as a critical part of their of significantly enhancing the scope of accountability in the institutions so affected, and in the entire system, generally.
In order to enhance the quality of products of its tertiary school system, the administration has had to introduce and implement a policy requiring that academic staff of its tertiary schools, particularly its three polytechnics at Ozoro, Oghara and Ogwashi-Uku,possess a minimum of the Master’s Degree in their respective fields.
As part of its dream aimed at hedging up the tempo of technological education in its tertiary schools, the Okowa administration has introduced a policy requiring that intakes into its polytechnics in Oghara, Ogwashi-Uku and Ozoro be in the ratio of 70:30 in favour of technical education. The rest-that is 30 per cent-is for all other sub-themes of academics.
The aim is to ensure that, over the medium and long hauls, the state is able to provide a pool of truly industry-efficient manpower to drive its dream of accelerated wholesome development of the state.
With regard to the provision of infrastructure in its higher educational institutions, the Okowa administration has also been up and about, across-the-board. Obviously, this is to ensure that the schools are able to deliver on their far-reaching mandates as the veritable factories for the production of the top grade manpower required for the attainment of its goal of the wholesome development of the state, in the nearest possible future. These project initiatives, in the face of the huge economic downturn in the country, are a huge indicator of two facts; the capacity of the state government for cost-efficient management of resources, and its due slant on tertiary education as one of the sectors to benefit, by way of active allocation and releases, of what it had stoically and diligently conserved for development, in spite of its legion other demanding variables/interests.
Quite understandably, some of the projects were inherited, while others are the actual initiatives of the subsisting administration in the state.
At a recent media chat in Asaba, the Commissioner for Higher Education, Engr. Jude Sinebe claimed, on the strength of the evidence before him as the chief presiding officer of the ministry, that the Okowa administration had been unusually positively active in the sector.
In this regard, Commissioner Sinebe said that the ministry, “last year, spent the sum of N3, 613, 056, 248.07 on the execution of three completed projects and on-going projects.” He listed the projects to include the completion of the Faculty of Law at the Delta State University, DELSU, Oleh Campus, which has since been commissioned, and the completion of the Health Clinic at DELSU, Anwai-Asaba campus.
For the on-going projects, Commissioner Sinebe named them to include :
(a)Construction of a Lecture Theatre at Faculty of Engineering, DELSU, Oleh Campus;
(b)Construction of Senate/Administration Building, DELSU, Abraka;
(c) Construction of a health Clinic at DELSU, Oleh campus;
(d)Construction of External Works at the Faculty of Engineering, DELSU, Oleh Campus;
(e) Construction of workshop/laboratory( A) at the Faculty of Engineering, DELSU, Oleh campus;
(f)Construction of workshop/laboratory (B) at the Faculty of Engineering, DELSU, Oleh campus;
(g)Construction of workshop/laboratory (C) at the Faculty of Engineering, DELSU, Oleh campus;
(h)Construction of Faculty of Science Building, DELSU, Abraka;
(i)Construction of a standard library complex at Asaba, and
(j)Construction of a standard library complex in Sapele.
Evidently, since the media brief in question at which the Commissioner named the projects itemised above, many of them have since been either fully completed or gone far ahead of the stage attained at the time of the media interaction
Commissioner Sinebe added that, under the aegis of projects, the ministry, on behalf of the state government, was in the process of developing hostel accommodation in all public tertiary schools in the state, with a target of between 60 per cent and 80 per cent of the total student population to be accommodated. To be delivered on the revolutionary public/ private partnership module of service delivery, the projects would also be run on the build, operate and transfer (BOT), concession. He added, “As at date, the ministry has engaged two consultants to drive the processs, following the approval of the State Executive Council for the project. Approval was granted for the development of two pairs of blocks of hostels (one male, one female). Each block is to have a minimum of 102 rooms and it is expected to accommodate 408 students. Therefore, both blocks will have a total of 204 rooms and accommodate 816 students. The number of blocks in pairs that could be built in each institution will be decided on a case-by-case basis, as determined by need. The proposed hostel blocks will be uniform and construction will be expected to be completed within 12 months of award of contract…”
Under the aegis of its capacity-building services, the ministry has two main streams of activities-skill set acquisition and financial support for tertiary students. The first stream-entrepreneurship education-is pursued via trainings at workshops, seminars and symposia. Commissioner Sinebe, at the media brief in Asaba, said, inter alia, that “ the ministry has granted approval to the request by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) to partner with the ministry in the areas of events, seminars and other activities as they relate to students and youth development in the state.”