We’re making tireless efforts to make public education first choice of all in Kwara — Gov AbdulRazaq

We're making tireless efforts to make public education first choice of all  in Kwara — Gov AbdulRazaq - Vanguard News

There is this global phenomenon that “Education forms the foundation of any society. It is responsible for Economic, Social, Political growth and the development of society in general. The thread of the growth of society depends upon the quality of education that is being imparted.”

This among others must have ignited the thoughts of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara state to declare a state of emergency in the Education sector and called on relevant stakeholders last week Thursday inside the prestigious Government House Banquet Hall Ilorin to define an agenda and program of interventions to make high-quality education available and accessible for all.

The summit was attended by the Governor; Deputy Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly Raphael Adetiba; Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments Mariam Uwais; state cabinet members; Permanent Secretaries; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Education Interventions Fela Bank-Olemoh; Prof Lasiele Yahaya of the University of Ilorin; SUBEB chairman Prof. Shehu Adaramaja; TESCOM chairman Taoheed Bello; Dr. Kunmi Wuraola of Africa-New Globe Education; Nigerian Country Director of Nexford University Olamidun Majekodunmi; Michael Oglegba of Study Lab; Rector of IVTEC Dr. Ade Somide; top educationist Elder Philip Adigun; Bola Lawal of Come Learn AM &ScholarX; traditional rulers; and several other educationists and dignitaries who all contributed to charting ways forward for improved education in the state of harmony.

Education in Kwara state had been facing numerous challenges namely insufficient funding, irregular promotion of teachers, inadequate infrastructure, shortage of instructional materials, absence of operational vehicles, unequal distributions of teaching staff and unfavourable learning conditions among others.

Governor AbdulRazaq had been deeply worried by these rots he met on resumption of office on May 29 2019 and therefore had been working tirelessly to change the narrative by making education in Kwara state, the first choice for all through ensuring a quality that is globally competitive among its peers.

With the convergence of big players in Kwara education future summit,  themed: “Securing and investing in the next generation “Governor AbdulRazaq explored thorough interactive sessions exhibiting the future of education as central to the Kwara State government’s agenda for growth and development.

In his address at the gathering, Governor AbdulRazaq said the administration has moved basic education from the near-collapse state in 2019 with investments in infrastructure, recruitment of good teachers, and reinvigoration of the monitoring system in the schools.

He said, “Two years down the road, my team and I are proud to report that the situation has changed. We have restored our relationship with key partners after years of the blacklist. We have reshaped public perception about teaching by engaging the best minds into the system. Work is ongoing in some 600 basic schools to give our children a befitting learning environment.

“Our goal is to make public schools the first choice for all in terms of the quality and relevance of our infrastructure and teaching staff in the digital age. 

“As a show of our commitment to education, we have recently surpassed the UNESCO budgetary threshold of 26%. Even so, it is clear that the government cannot do this alone. 

“Huge gaps still exist. For instance, our recent school census across four local government areas shows that 41% of our teachers are absent at their duty post. No single teacher was seen in 54 of the 368 schools sampled, while 23% of students on head teachers’ records were not in school during the census. Only 15% of the schools sampled were rated as needing no repair, implying that 85% of our classrooms require various forms of rehabilitation.

“The picture is bleaker when you consider availability or adoption of technology in our schools. The gender parity index for the ratio of girls to boys in our school is another source of worry.

“So, we need everyone on board. We do not have all the answers. And we certainly do not have enough resources that will provide the right environment for every Kwara child to thrive in the new world, irrespective of their social standing. 

“Already, we are building a legal framework to support our efforts. We now have a bill for a law to establish Kwara State Education Trust Fund. When passed, this fund will supplement the sector’s finance, promote technologies, and leapfrog the sector’s development through our Kwara Education Transformation Agenda (KWETA) plan.”

World Bank Senior Education Specialist Dr Tunde Adekola in his address commended the government for the initiative and its commitment of more than 25% UNESCO budgetary funding to education, adding however that it must invest in technology, training and retraining of teachers, create a regime of incentives for good performance, and involve communities in its drive to transform education in the state.

“Government has to invest wisely and smartly to be able to secure the future of our children. There is also the need for a coalition between the state and non-state actors to chart a sustainable course for an improved education system. Teachers have to go through proper training and retraining to raise them professionally,” Adekola said.

He also called for resuscitating the regime of accountability in the schools, including key performance indicators to measure performance and adherence to rules.

“The second thing that worked for Kwara before and can still work now is the coalition. We all have to rally around a shared vision and shared mission for inclusive education and secure the future of our children.

“Kwara state has the highest number of basic schools in the whole of north-central. Kwara State has the least number of out of school children in the north-central zone of Nigeria. Kwara State is one of those states that are investing more than 20% of its budget in education. Thank you Mr Governor for the investment in education for Kwara State children. 

“Kwara State is one of those states that is coming up from behind in accessing all the fundings in UBEC and is now investing in infrastructure and learning materials. All these things do not come by accident. That is what is called leadership. That is what we need at all levels in the state.

That is why the governor brought all of us here to share knowledge and information, to see how we can make things better.” concluded  Adekola, a global educational leader in his address.

Special Adviser to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Investments Hajia  Mariam Uwais also made a remarkable contribution.

Uwais called for collaborative efforts among traditional rulers, civil society organisations, governments and religious scholars in addressing the issue of out-of-school children through facilities in agriculture, sports, and creative sectors. 

“The children who are out on the streets without education, without any skill and many of them now going to young adults are the ones easily exposed to violence, to crimes and other forms of abuse. This has led the federal government to take decisions on how to support states to curb a lot of these challenges. It is very important for states to lead giving the mandate in the constitution since primary education, primary health care and agriculture fall within their purview.

 For that reason, it is important for states to take the lead in addressing many of these challenges that these children have,”

Uwais said that “It is also important that we have a multidimensional approach for many of these children especially the older ones. So, how do we support them? How do we get them empowered? It is very important for us to have data to build a community to have child agents and child facilitators within communities.” 

Senior Special  Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Education  Intervention, Mr Fela Bank-Olemoh in his contribution called on the state government to improve investment in human capital development and create a model that supports and allows the private sector to solve problems in the sector. 

“It is exciting that Kwara is committing 25% of its annual budget to the education sector. That is fantastic. In the areas of human capital development and the educational index, the government should improve. So, we must commit to improving the quality of education that we are imparting. It is also important that the government think in different ways by making tough decisions to redesign the educational system,” he said.

Fela Bank Olemoh tagged the Governor and his Deputy as Bulldozers because there would be pushbacks to achieving the feat which the duo must be ready to resist.

He also placed a premium on Technical education and Digital economy saying,”Kwara must re-work its primary and secondary education system to make it practically impossible for any student to come out of our schools without acquiring basic TVET(Technical and Vocational Training) skills; Kwarans outside the school system must also have a clear pathway to pick up TVET skills in an easily accessible and affordable manner; we must create an economy around a TVET model that would incentives the private sector to get involved in the provision, training, delivery and management of TVET facilities in Kwara.”

On the Digital economy he said, “A program aimed at providing digital skills training to students in Tertiary institutions in Kwara preparing them for the Digital economy; in partnership with technology companies equipping them with the skills needed to thrive in the place of work as employees or entrepreneurs; the programme should also include training on soft skills and mindset reorientation. “

World Bank Senior Education Specialist and moderator at the summit, Dr Tunde Adekola commended the government for the initiative and its commitment of more than 25% UNESCO budgetary funding to education, adding however that it must invest in technology, training and retraining of teachers, create a regime of incentives for good performance, and involve communities in its drive to transform education in the state.

“Government has to invest wisely and smartly to be able to secure the future of our children. There is also the need for a coalition between the state and non-state actors to chart a sustainable course for an improved education system. Teachers have to go through proper training and retraining to raise them professionally,” Adekola said.

He also called for resuscitating the regime of accountability in the schools, including key performance indicators to measure performance and adherence to rules.

“The second thing that worked for Kwara before and can still work now is the coalition. We all have to rally around a shared vision and shared mission for inclusive education and secure the future of our children,” according to Adekola, a global educational leader.

“Kwara State has the highest number of basic schools in the whole of north-central. Kwara State has the least number of out of school children in the north-central zone of Nigeria. Kwara State is one of those states that are investing more than 20% of its budget in education. Thank you Mr Governor for the investment in education for Kwara State children. 

“Kwara State is one of those states that is coming up from behind in accessing all the fundings in UBEC and is now investing in infrastructure and learning materials.

All these things do not come by accident. That is what is called leadership. That is what we need at all levels in the state. That is why the governor brought all of us here to share knowledge and information, to see how we can make things better.”

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