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ONE thing that every observer of the education sector in Oyo State will readily agree to is the fact that since the assumption of office of Professor Taoheed Adedoja as the commissioner for education, activities in the sector have been on the upswing with various positive changes taking place every time.
The current change in the state’s education sector is predicated on the fact that the education commissioner came into office with a clear vision of what he would like to accomplish during his tenure. This resulted in his fashioning out a 10-year strategic development plan for education in the state, the implementation of which he has been faithfully executing. This has culminated in the improvement which education in the state has witnessed.
According to Adedoja, the development plan would provide “policy makers with useful elements required for a desired breakthrough and opportunities for devising measures and options required to adjust the developments actions necessary for the achievements of policy targets set by government at various levels.”
One of the strategies employed by the state government to achieve its targets in education sector is provision of infrastructure in schools.
As explained by Adedoja, “Government is aware of the need to provide additional classrooms for our students as a consequence of the rise in student enrolments. Additional classrooms shall be provided and rehabilitation of dilapidated classrooms shall be carried out before the end of the year.”
He added, “Public secondary schools in Oyo State will soon enjoy a new lease of life as the state government has approved award of contracts to the tune of N378 million for the construction of new buildings, as well as rehabilitation of the old ones.”
The commissioner stated that the project was meant to give public secondary schools in the state a total facelift and provide a conducive learning atmosphere for the students in line with the determination of the state government to provide a qualitative education in an enabling environment.
Similarly, the commissioner explained that over N110 million would be expended on the construction of six units of six classrooms across the three senatorial districts in the state, while N145.5 million would be spent on the construction of 13 units of three classroom building in different parts of the state.
In addition, the state government, according to the commissioner, had earmarked a sum of N122 million for the rehabilitation of 23 classroom buildings across the state. The new classrooms would have toilets with long span roofing sheets, terrazzo flooring, steel doors and windows, furniture for staff and students and equipped with computer sets ready to implement the e-learning project for secondary schools.
As a way of improving students achievements in preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access for all, the state government came up with Oyo Ministry of Education Students Intervention (OYOMESI).
Through this, the state has been able to carry out series of interventions aimed at improving its education sector. These include; the payment of over N270m as West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) fees for 52,448 candidates of Oyo State in 2010, at an average of N5,150 per student.
As a way of determining the preparedness of the students and ensuring adequate preparation for Senior School Certificate Examination, the state organised a unified mock examination for the current SS3 students in November 2009.
The commissioner said the outcome of the examination revealed aspects of the different examination subjects that needed more attention by teachers, parents and students.
Adedoja pointed out that the mock examination exposed “the inadequacies in our educational system in the last 12 years when the present SS 3 students started primary schools.”
The commissioner added that as a way of arresting poor students’ performance in public examinations and also precipitating positive changes in the attitude of teachers towards preparing their students well for public examinations, the initiative of volunteerism in educational monitoring and supervision was introduced.
According to him, “The scheme has its membership drawn from retired education officers and school principals, carefully selected to complement the efforts of regular inspectors of education.”
Realising the inability of the government to solely provide all the facilities required for world class education, the state government decided to encourage public-private partnership with a view to motivating individuals and groups in to join it in the provision of necessary facilities. This has produced heart-warming results. With this move, the state has been able to attract support from various individuals and people to its schools.
For instance, the Universal Service Provision Fund, (USPF) distributed 100 computer sets with two laptops and internet facilities each to 10 selected public secondary schools in the state.
Similarly, an US-based NGO, “Catch Them Young” which has Oyo State indigenes resident in the United States as members, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oyo State government, through the Ministry of Education on its willingness to renovate dilapidated buildings, reactivate toilets, provide and equip science laboratories, computer rooms with computer sets, a library stocked with current books and construct a perimeter fence at Methodist Grammar School, Agodi N5, Ibadan.
Chevron Nigeria Limited also donated a standard science laboratory to Community Grammar School, Mokola, Ibadan, while Multichoice Nigeria Limited established a mini-resource centre fully equipped with ICT materials in 10 selected public secondary schools.
A distillation unit was donated by National Research Institute of Chemical Technology (NARICT) and was later installed and commissioned at the Science Resource Centre, Oranyan Ibadan.
Individuals have also been coming to the aid of schools in the state.
The state government has also taken steps to encourage initiation and execution of self-help projects in its secondary schools. The sum of N60m was distributed among 120 benefiting secondary schools in the state to execute self-help projects ranging from construction of classrooms, rehabilitation of classroom buildings, to provision of school furniture.
The principal of Ojoo High School (Senior) Chief Oluyomi Oluremi Taiwo and that of Ojoo Junior High School, Mrs. O Oje, initiated self-help projects without any government subvention by providing perimeter fence round the school land with a gatehouse, a mini library, ICT hall with two computer sets, one-room Corpers’ Lodge, Physics, Chemistry and Biology laboratories, administrative block, sick bay, desks and benches.
The commissioner also explained that the ministry had embarked on the resuscitation of boarding houses in some selected schools in the three senatorial districts of the state.
This has improved teaching and learning in many of the schools.
At the end, the commissioner reiterated the commitment of the state government to the provision of quality education in the state.
While rounding off his presentation, Professor Adedoja said, “Alao-Akala administration is absolutely committed to ensuring that not only does every person of school age in Oyo State have access to education, but that they have access to quality education. We will not spare any effort; we will not spare any expense. It is our promise to our people and we shall never waiver from this.”