There have been a lot of public outcry over the poor state of public education system, especially primary and secondary schools in the country. In this piece, GOLOK NANMWA wants relevant authorities to address the situation.
Bad educational system was among the myriad of problems and challenges inherited by the present administration in PlateauState from the previous administration. Governor Simon Lalong acknowledged this fact recently while speaking at the graduation ceremony of Saint Louis College in Jos.
He said his plan was to improve on the quality of primary and secondary education in the state. He said having started the payment of outstanding workers salaries, his next priority would be security and education. To give the education sector the necessary priority, Lalong also appointed his Deputy Governor Prof. Sonni Tyoden to oversee the education ministry in the state.
Recently, the Universal Basic Examination Commission, UBEC, handed over a 250 capacity examination hall and administrative block in Government Secondary School, Du, Jos South to the Plateau State Government.
Dr. Dikko Suleiman, the Executive Secretary, UBEC who handed the two structures in Jos said the structures were part of government’s intervention to improve the learning facilities of junior secondary schools across the country. The secretary who was represented by Dr Yakubu Gambo, the deputy secretary, Services in UBEC said the completed structures are to further create an enabling environment for learning in the Plateau.
He noted that many public schools do not have conducive examinational halls to write their junior and senior secondary school certificate examinations which are part of the criteria for writing the examinations. ‘’We know with an enabling environment, the standard of education will be improved and there will be no embarrassment from the examination bodies that such public schools do not meet part of the criteria for writing the Junior or Secondary School certificate exams,’’ he said.
He said the intervention programme is also in 50 schools across the 17 LGAs in Plateau. He said some have been completed and some are still ongoing. “We have interventions like this in 50 schools in Plateau, especially the construction of blocks of classrooms. The least is 5 blocks but where there are enough classrooms, we focus on building examination halls,’’ he explained.
In his response, Mr Christopher Bello, the permanent secretary, Secondary School Education Plateau Ministry of Education promised to ensure the facilities are maintained and put to good use. He commended UBEC for their intervention programmes in junior secondary schools and assured them that there will definitely be improvement in the performance of students. Bello said the school authority would be held responsible for any damage in the completed structures.
The principal of the school, Mrs Susan Dalyop said that the new structures have increased interest on the number of candidates who want admission in the school. She said they no longer used wooden chairs and tables but the exotic furniture provided by the UBEC intervention.
Similarly, UBEC is constructing E- libraries worth N255 million in three public schools in the state, its official have disclosed. Dr Yakubu Gambo, the Deputy Executive Secretary (Services) told newsmen in Jos recently that the construction of the E-libraries in each school will cost N85 million.
He said the libraries which are almost completed in Unity College Bokkos, Government Secondary School, Pankshin, and Federal Government Girls College, Langtang, is to reposition public schools access to learning and research materials. ‘’The World now is virtual, facilitated by the convenience of the information technology which means the importance of E-libraries to augment the Conventional libraries,’’ he explained.
The UBEC official expressed satisfaction on the progress of work at the various public schools and said the libraries will have 40 computers each for its operation and a generating plant. “We have recently supervised the construction in these public schools and work is going on remarkably.
“The E-library will have 40 computers in each of the public schools and a generating plant which the Unity College, Bokkos, already have. It is a 40kVA plant awaiting installation,’’ he said.
Gambo said the E-libraries will not only be for students but teachers also so that they can have access to use information resources and tools that have been conventionally inaccessible. He said the intervention of “the Commission in constructing the libraries is also aimed at improving the standard of education not only in Plateau but the country, a prerequisite for development.’’
In a related matter, the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, has disclosed that no fewer than 1, 228 pupils left private schools to enroll in public schools in the state in the last six months. The SUBEB executive chairman, Prof. Mathew Sule, told newsmen in Jos that the migration to public schools was because parents’ confidence in the schools had been restored due to rising standards.
Sule added that learning and teaching conditions in public schools had improved. “We have recorded a cross-over of more than 1, 000 students from private to public schools in the last six months. Our findings show that it is because confidence is being restored to parents on the improved standard of education obtainable in the public schools.
“Public schools like the Seventh Day Adventist, Laranto; LEA Rikkos; Township Primary; Obasanjo Primary School; St John Roman Catholic Mission; all in Jos North and Jos South have recorded cross-over. The figures are 623, 127, 325, 120 and 33 students respectively to these schools,’’ he said.
The SUBEB chairman asserted that the board’s stern monitoring system had also made teachers more committed in their duties. “We pay the public schools unscheduled visits,’’ he said.
Sule stressed that the rising standard of education in public schools was evidenced by the performance of the Plateau delegation to the 2015 Inter-state Basic Schools’ Debate Championship held in Ogun in October. He noted that the students who were all from public schools, distinguished themselves at the championship.
“The best speaker at the competition was Cynthia Odeh, who is a public school student in Plateau. We were not amongst the first three but the recognition indicates that there is hope in the state’s public school system and I am optimistic that we will do better at subsequent competitions,’’ the SUBEB chairman said.
Sule recalled that Miss Sharon Marcus, a public school student, came second at the Spelling Bee competition organised by the University of Jos Alumni Association, carting away a laptop and an Ipad. He enjoined parents and teachers to ensure that their children were instilled with moral education, saying that conventional education without morality would expose children to difficulty in adapting to societal moral and social values.
The SUBEB chairman added that children without moral education would also be susceptible to social vices and negative peer pressure.