By Louis Amoke
A wide-range evaluation of the landmark achievements of the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State in the education sector presents a platform for one to appreciate the governor’s overwhelming passion for quality education and his commitment to guarantee the future of the children as leaders of tomorrow.
Gov. Ugwuanyi’s unprecedented and enduring feats in the sector have also gone a long way to demonstrate the high premium he places on education as the bedrock of nation building as well as the economic, political and socio-cultural development of the society.
The accomplishments are equally in keeping with the governor’s vision to “deploy government services to create fair and equal opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, educate our children, and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment”
Reaffirming his commitment and firm belief in qualitative, accessible, affordable and inclusive education in the state, Gov. Ugwuanyi had while recently commissioning some equipment procured by the state government as well as facilities repairs for teaching and learning in Technical Colleges and Special Science Schools, declared that “our best investment is in education”.
In the past two years, his administration has made concerted efforts, despite the prevailing economic recession in the country, to reposition the state’s education system to improve the standard of learning through the implementation of far reaching reforms as embedded in the four-point agenda.
Shortly after his assumption of office, the governor, in a bid to ensure that the children and their teachers enjoy a safe and conducive learning environment, embarked on a programme for the renovation, rehabilitation and re-equipment of primary and secondary schools in the state, which were then in dismal and deplorable conditions.
Sequel to this, Gov. Ugwuanyi constituted an administrative committee headed by his deputy, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo to ensure the full and proper execution of the development projects of the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB). One is impressed to note that the committee’s assignment has yielded the desired aim resulting to the completion of most of the abandoned projects in some schools.
The governor at the inception of his administration also renovated and equipped the sickbay and two classroom blocks at Queen’s School, Enugu, and another 7-classroom block at New Haven Secondary School, Enugu. The administration equally procured 10 Braille Machines, Jaw Readers, Desktop Computers and other Accessories for visually-impaired students of the College of Immaculate Conception (CIC), Enugu.
Recently, 2000 primary school teachers were recruited through the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB), under the Chairmanship of Chief Ikeje Asogwa, to improve the standard of learning in the state. The list of first batch of 1300 successful teachers has been released and one is glad to note that they have moved to the classrooms, accordingly.
Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration under ENSUBEB is currently renovating over 348 primary and secondary schools in the state worth N3 billion with the federal government providing 50 percent of the sum. The committee headed by the Deputy Governor is on ground ensuring that the projects are fully and properly executed.
The state government through the Post Primary Schools Management Board (PPSMB) under the Chairmanship of Barr. Nestor Ezeme, recently procured 600 computers, 600 computer desks, 600 UPS, 60 power generators and 60 printers for public secondary schools in the state.
Last year, 12, 480 furniture, comprising writing desks and chairs were procured for primary school pupils in the state and 868 tables with chairs for teachers, as part of the infrastructural reforms being undertaken by Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration to ensure that pupils and teachers in the state primary school system studied under very conducive classroom environment.
The governor in a bid to provide an enabling environment for workers in the state as part of the government’s efforts to promote job satisfaction, efficiency and productivity among the workers, initiated and relocated the Post Primary Schools Management Board (PPSMB) from the temporal secretariat to a befitting permanent site at Independence Layout, Enugu. The relocation, according to the governor, was “another demonstration of his administration’s resolve to provide quality education for the people of the state”.
Worried by the ugly experience that post-primary school teachers in the state have not been promoted since 2013 as most of them approach retirement, Ugwuanyi’s administration was magnanimous enough to approve the release of the 2013 promotion arrears for the affected teachers with financial effect from April 2017. The approval added that the 2014 promotion arrears would be released with financial effect from September 2017 while that of 2015 will be from December 2017.
On tertiary education, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration in keeping with its promise to revamp and reposition state-owned tertiary institutions, recently upgraded the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu to a degree awarding institution through the amendment of the extant laws of the Institute. His administration, in spite of the daunting economic recession in the country, released N100 million to the institution to enable it meet the accreditation needs of its courses. The government is assisting heavily in the provision of infrastructure, renovation of dilapidated buildings/ facilities and other logistics needed to improve the quality of learning in the institute.
The government has also extended same to other state’s tertiary institutions, such as the Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo and the Enugu State College of Education (Technical), through various interventions aimed at repositioning and revamping them to be able to award certificates.
In this regard, the administration has put in place machinery to ensure that the Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo scales through the accreditation of its new courses by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), to be formally listed as a polytechnic. It has also provided necessary funds to enable the Enugu State College of Education (Technical) scale its accreditation hurdles and be in a position to issue certificates which it had not been able to do for nine years because of non-accreditation.
The state government had approved the upgrade of the Enugu State College of Education (Technical), Enugu to a University of Education status to specialize in training of teachers in sciences, technology, vocational subjects, arts and social sciences. The government also approved the sum of N200 million for relocation of the institution to Ihe in Awgu Local Government Area to provide enough space for expansion and open up the council area for socio-economic development. The same amount (N200 million) was equally approved for the resuscitation of the Nsukka campus of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) to be known as Adada Campus, ESUT, to ensure equitable access to tertiary education to every citizen of the state.
Interestingly, the State House of Assembly recently passed the bill amending the Education Law (Cap 37, Laws of Enugu State 2004) sent by the state government to drive home its vision in the education sector.
From the above narrative, it is obvious that Gov. Ugwuanyi’s passion for education in the state is outstanding and a clear indication of his love for the brighter future of the younger generation and those yet unborn for Enugu State is truly in the hands of God.
Amoke writes from Enugu State.