Aregbesola’s Education Revolution In Perspective
As a part of the Silver Jubilee Anniversary Celebrations marking the creation of Osun on August 27, 2016, President Mohammadu Buhari on September 1, commissioned Osogbo Government High School. The school has the capacity for 3,000 students; equipped with all modern academic and sporting facilities, it is rated as one of the best schools in Nigeria. The status of the school is a fallout of Gov. Rauf Aregbesola’s resolves to standardise education in the state. For the benefit of the uninitiated, Aregbesola convoked an education summit between Feb.7 and Feb.8, 2011, barely three months into his administration, which was chaired byProf. Wole Soyinka. The summit’s communiqué eventually became the fulcrum of Aregbesola’s education policy direction.
The new administration, acting on the education template, set a target to build 170 well-equipped model schools across the state, categorising them into elementary, middle and high schools, each with a maximum absorptive capacity of between 1, 000 and 3,000 pupils. In addition, it decentralised the Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) into three districts. Teachers Establishment and Pension
Office (TEPO) was also established for training and retraining, promotion, prompt payment of salaries and allowances and taking care of teacher pension. The government approached the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, to formulate a feeding roster that could give the best possible balanced diet.
Presently, more than 254,000 elementary school pupils are fed on nutritional meals — chicken, fish, beef, eggs and fruits every school day on the platform of O-Meals programme, which is meant as a bait for greater enrolment of pupils in schools as most poor parents see it as a respite. Records show that
primary school enrolment rose from 155,318 at the inception of the programme to 254,793 (62.8 percent increase). The state government insists that the N3.5 billion spent on the meals annually is an incentive to farmers to produce more as there is a guaranteed readymade market for agricultural produce, while the programme empowers 3,007 trained caterers and food vendors.
To make the new school system work, more than N354 million was committed to the provision of instructional materials, home economics facilities, science equipment and other teaching kits for the public primary and secondary schools. The scheme is being understudied by federal and state governments.
The Aregbesola administration has also committed N800 million into the free school uniform programmes at two pairs. Residents of the state say that the uniform has brought uniformity to schools in the state, thus fostering a sense of belonging in public schools.
There is the Omoluabi Scholar Coaster Buses for easy transportation of students atN20 per daily trip for each pupil, while primary and secondary schools running grants were increased from N7.4 million to N424 million and N117 million to N427 million per year respectively. Likewise, some categories of students are given computer — Opon Imo –, the e-learning tablet designed to make learning interesting and easy.
The device contains all books required for the Senior Secondary School syllabus, the last 10 years past questions of WAEC, NECO, and UTME. Observers note that in 10 years, Opon Imo would have saved the state more than N50 billion of physical purchase of hard copies of textbooks for the 17 subjects taught in public schools. They note that the innovation has earned the United Nations
World Summit Award for ITC innovation as the 4th best e-learning device in the
The state government has increased bursary award from N2, 000 paid to each final year students of all courses apart from Law and Medicine to N10, 000, and each final year students in Medicine and Law from N3, 000 to N20, 000 each.
However, due to the raging financial meltdown, these subventions could no longer be accommodated after the third year of the administration.
Aregbesola has, therefore, instructed the management of the four tertiary institutions in the state to look at their areas of strengths and weaknesses. Before this administration, Osun occupied the 34th
position on Federal Allocation with virtually nothing to write home about in terms of Internally Generated Revenue. This notwithstanding, the administration has demonstrated that with little resources but targeted intervention, innovation and political will, dramatic and unprecedented
progress is achievable.
For every project Aregbesola does, he looks at how it is going to benefit the very poor people, seeing governance as a way to develop society by empowering the people.
He believes that investment in today’s children and youths would yield the best returns in the not too distance future, and create a level playground for every child.
Concerned residents of the state, therefore, have observed that the impact of the Aregbesola administration will surely come in the fullness of time and be harvested by the next generation.
Ademola wrote from Osogbo, Osun State and can be reached via 08037127929