Increased attention accorded to education in Anambra State has begun to yield the desired fruits. The same state where its people were known to pursue trading to the neglect of education emerged the overall best in the West African School Certificate Examination last year. It led 12 states in the country that beat the national average performance.
The State’s breaking forth in the educational sector is attributed to the efforts of former governor of the state, Peter Obi to engineer a turnaround in the educational sector. His major step in this regard is that he returned schools to their missionary owners and gave them financial grants to the tune of over N6 billion to attain higher standards. There was also an elaborate programme of modernising and equipping public and private/mission schools with modern learning facilities. The state has a package on accelerating progress in the attainment of education for all, tagged FINAL PUSH.
Anambra State is the first state in Nigeria to launch at the state level the World Bank’s State Education Programme Investment Project (SEPIP). The project is expected to serve over two million children in Anambra, Bauchi and Ekiti States. With what Anambra State has done in funding education, a visiting World Bank official, Marie-Nelly has described some of its schools as enviable models and standards that schools across the nation should emulate.
Returning mission schools to their former owners is considered an important policy change that underlies the progress in the educational sector in Anambra State. The policy change is in recognition that the falling standard of education we are facing nationwide has a lot to do with government involvement.
When government took over schools from the missionaries, a major change of orientation of the school system took place. The mission schools were set up as part of a social function and a means of promoting the main religious objective for which they came into the country. The school then was the vehicle for grooming people to live disciplined and godly lives.
When government, which is neutral in religious matters, took over the schools, the important emphasis on morality was lost. Government objective for running schools differs from that of the missions. It values education just for training manpower, wiping out illiteracy and improving income and living standard. The objective of the missions is more than these, which is to attain all these goals with discipline, honesty and Godly fear. Respect for rules and meeting of set standards are important emphasis of the missions that have been lost with government takeover of the schools. These lost values are being recovered with the Anambra State initiative.
Where the fear of God no longer rules the affairs of men, rules and standards are bound to break down and this is precisely what has happened to our educational standard. The quality of education we can get cannot be better than the quality of governance we have. Deteriorating quality of education is a function of the overall poor governance quality in Nigeria.
Where governance quality improves, it can be expected also that the quality of education will improve. The education sector in Anambra State has experienced a major improvement in the quality of governance in terms of improved funding of schools, supply of modern learning facilities, including provision of clinics and healthcare facilities in schools. In addition, there is an interaction programme – the state annual children town hall meeting organised by the State Committee on Good Governance in collaboration with UNICEF and UNDP. Education in the state has moved quite close to its proper role of equipping children adequately for the future.
It is desirable for us to take every step possible to return to the school system that emphasises respect for rules and meeting of standards. This, we believe is the example that Anambra State has set for the nation. The results are now confirming that the steps the government of Anambra State has taken in its educational sector are in the right direction.
Considering the quality of school leavers coming out of our schools, we need a rethink of our usual claims of having abundant human resources in Nigeria. Resources refer to things of value that can be applied for productive purpose. The mostly half-baked and unemployable school leavers have considerably undermined the basis of our claim of availability of huge human resources. Human resources that cannot be used for productive purpose are indeed a liability to society. We need to give adequate attention to the quality of our human resources by taking steps to empower the schools.
The quality of people that our schools are churning out is so poor that we can no longer afford to fold our arms, as it poses great danger to our future. What goes round comes round. The future of a nation that compromises to pass medical students is in the hands of quacks. Students that are able to pass out by cutting corners could become the captains of our aircrafts – whose expertise or lack of it spells life and death.
The schools are producing for us the medical personnel that will carry out surgery on our people tomorrow, the engineers that will build our roads and bridges, the pilots that will fly our aircraft and so on. The quality we give is the quality we get. Whatever Anambra State has done to lift the standard of education in the state is a step to mitigate the risk to our future. Let others do the same.