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Towards  Sustainable Education  In Anambra State – Ifeanyi  Anagwu  

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I  chose  to  write  this  piece  in  view  of  various  ill-advised  promises  made  by  gubernatorial  aspirants in  Anambra  State  regarding  education  policy.  Topmost  of such  promises  is  the  promise  of unrealistic  and  unsustainable  free  education  for  all  Anambrarians  from  primary  to  tertiary education  level.  

It  is  one  thing  to  make  campaign  promises  and  another  thing  to  keep  such promises.  The  masses  to  whom  such  promises  are  made  need  to  separate realities  from  mere revelries.    

I  wish  to  categorically  and  unequivocally  state  here  that  it  is  a  big  crime  against  humanity to  obtain  the votes of the electorate  through  deceptive  unrealistic campaign  promises.  What  does  one  gain  from promising  to  turn  Anambra  State  to  Oxford,  Massachusetts  or  Cambridge  in  just  four  years  when one  knows that  even  sixteen  years  is  not  enough  to enact  such  a  feat? 

Let  us  take  a  look  at  the  widely  acclaimed  enviable  improvements  in  education  in  Anambra  State. Available  records  show  that  Anambra  has  made  the  best improvements  in  education  in  the  whole nation,  thanks  to  former  Governor  Peter  Obi’s  ingenuity.  

This  fact  has  been  supported  by  statistics from  examining bodies  such  as  WAEC,  NECO  and  JAMB.  Having  lived  and  worked  in  two  of  the best  schools  in Anambra  State,  I  am  a  living  witness  to  the  mass movement  of  students  by  their parents  from  various  parts  of  the  country  to  Anambra  State  in  search  of quality  education.

Such parents  were  ready  to  pay very  high  fees  charged  by  those  schools  in  order  to  get  the  best out of their wards.  It  was  as  though  coming  to  Anambra State  for  secondary  school education  could  be  likened to traveling  overseas  for  the  same  purpose.  

No  sooner  did  former  Governor  Obi  kick-start his  education revolution  than  the innovation  started paying  off  as  evidenced  by  the  successful  handover  of schools  to  the  missions,  renovation  and equipping of  public schools  with  state-of-the-art  science  and  ICT  laboratories,  libraries  and sporting  facilities  as  well  as enthronement  of  a  regime  of  proper  management  in  the school  system.

Obi  went as far  as  funding  privately  owned  schools  by  giving  them  laptops,  financial  aids,  etc.  He did  this  for  the  simple  reason  that  the private  schools  also teach Anambra  students.  He  went  ahead to  bequeath  to  Anambra  one  of  the  most  beautiful  and  most  equipped  state-owned  universities in the  country,  the Chukwuemeka  Odumegwu  Ojukwu  Universiy,  Anambra  State.

What  a  good leadership.  In  all  these,  school  fees  rather  than  nosedive,  saw  a steady  but highly affordable increase  to  match  the  level  of  services  provided. Students  were  better  for  it.  Parents  and  teachers were  happy  for  it.  The  result is  our present enviable  status  as  ‘the  state  that  has  made  the  best improvements  in  education  in  the  whole  federation’.  

A  comparison  of  our  current  status  on  education  with  that  of  our  neighbouring  state  of  Imo,  where free  education  was  introduced  by  the  state  government up  to  tertiary  level,  shows  that  what  is required  is  a  well-articulated  roadmap  towards  sustainable  education  in  the  state.  Having  taught  in Anambra  and currently  lecturing  in  Imo  State,  I  am  in  a  vantage  position  to  compare  the  two  states educationally.

Before  I  continue,  I  will  like  to  share  an  experience  I  had.  In  October  2015,  I  went to  a  government-owned  secondary  school  in  Owerri  to  register  my relation  for  the  WAEC  exam. This  relation  of  mine  just  finished  SS2  in  a  school  at  Ozubulu,  Anambra  State.  

We  went  with  her SS2  annual  result  printed  from  the  internet.  On  presenting  the  result  to  the  Principal  of  the  school, he  told  us  that  the  result  was inadmissible  since,  according  to  him,  it  was  not  signed  by  the  Principal of  the  school  at  Ozubulu.

I  told  him  that  the  result  was  downloaded  from  the  school’s  website. Meanwhile,  the  result  had  the  school  stamp  and  Principal’s  signature  on  it.  The  man insisted  that the  original  ‘pen  ink’  of  the  Principal  should  be  on  the  result,  maintaining  that  what  we  presented was  a  photocopy.  

I  tried  to  educate  him  to  understand  that  nowadays,  results  are  stamped,  signed by  the  school  authority  and  uploaded  to  the  internet  for  ease  of  access  no matter  the  student’s location.  The  man  maintained  that  it  was  an  impossibility.  He  asked  me  how  one  could  verify  the authenticity  of  such  result.  

I  told  him  that  it  was  very  simple;  all  he  needed  to  do  was  to  log  on  to the  issuing  school’s  website,  navigate  to  the  ‘contact  us’  section  and  send  an email  to  the  school, attaching  the  result  meant  for  verification.  

Then  the school  would  reply  him.  Looking  confused, the  man  told  me  that  such  was  not  possible  in  Nigeria.  I  was  embarrassed.  I  later  discovered  that the state’s  education  system  was  yet  to  key  into  ICT  revolution.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  few  schools in  the  state  had  computer  teachers.    

Laboratories  and  libraries, where  they  existed,  were  nothing to  write  home  about.  Dilapidated  structures  adorned  the  entire  landscape  of  government-owned schools.  Products  of  such  schools  reflect  poor  foundation  when  they  proceed  to  higher  institutions. We  lecture  them  and  what  we  see  in  them  is  horrible.

Such  is  the  ‘benefit’  of  free  education  at  all levels  as  it  were.  Today,  the  state  government  has  jettisoned  the  free  education  policy  citing  unsustainability. The  question  is:  who  is  fooling  who?

Anambra  does  not  need  to  listen  to  those  promising  them  free  education  at  all  levels  of  education.

The  promise  of  charting  a  new  course  for  our  education system  which  will  incorporate  free education  at  all  levels  is  one  of  those  deceitful  campaign promises that  must  be  disregarded  for  the good  of  our  dear  state.  

If  implemented  at  this  stage  of  our  developmental  experiment,  it  will  prove to  be  counterproductive.  As  a  classroom  expert,  I  wish  to  tell  my  fellow compatriots  and  lovers  of our  state  that  Anambra  is  already  on  her  desired  education  roadmap.  

What  is  needed  at  this  point is  sustainability  and  more  improvements  to  be  in  tune  with  emerging  technologies.  Our  people should  not  forget  that  education is  costly  while  ignorance  is  more  expensive. 

In  order  to  sustain  and  steadily  improve  on  our  educational  gains,  incoming  administration  should invest  in  the  use  of  interactive  whiteboard  in  Anambra State  school  system.  This  may  sound  very strange  to  many;  but,  it  is  in  tune  with  global  best  practice.  It  is  an  ‘affordably  expensive’ technology  used  in lesson  delivery.  

It  should  be  introduced  in  both  secondary  and  tertiary institutions  in  the  state.  Nursery  and  primary  schools  can  continue  with whiteboards  and markers currently  in  use,  but  this  should  gradually  be  phased  out  and  replaced  with  plasma televisions  and  laptops.  

This  is  the  global  best  practice.  Teachers  should be  trained  on  the  use  of these  state-of-the-art  technologies for improved lesson delivery.  The  incoming government  should  provide  all  schools  in Anambra  State with  Wi-Fi  network  and  overhead  projectors.  

Teachers’  salaries  should  be  reviewed upwards  to encourage  our  teachers  to  put  in  more  efforts,  especially  in view  of  the  fact  that  despite the  enviable  status of  Anambra  school  system,  available  records show that  our  teachers  are  one  of the  least  paid in the  whole federation.

The  incoming administration  should  be  innovative  enough  as  to  introduce  state  government-sponsored  annual  quiz,  debate  and  essay  competitions  to  be contested  by  all  secondary  schools  in the  state.  

These  competitions  should  be  in  three  (3)  stages:

Stage  (1)  to  be  known  as  qualifying series  where  schools  will  compete  at  the  local  government  level.  This should  be  done  in  the  first term.  The  winners  in stage  (1)  will  proceed  to Stage  (2);

Stage  (2) will  be  known  as  semi-final  and  will see  local  government  champions  competing  at  the  senatorial  zone  level.  Winners  at  the  senatorial zone level  will proceed  to  stage  (3).  

Stage  (3)  is  the  final  stage  where  zonal  champions  will  slug  it out  at  the  state  level  for  prizes  that  will  be  determined  by  the  state  government.  

Both  stage  (2)  and stage  (3)  will  hold  in  second  term.  The  final  winners  will  be  decorated  with  first  position  prize. Their  teachers  who  prepared  them should be  rewarded  as  well.  

The  runners  up  will  go  home  with consolation  prizes.  This  will  help  in  no  small  way  in  the  reorientation  campaign  for  our  youths.  It will  enable  Anambra  to continue  to fly  ahead  of  her  peers  in  education. 

In  conclusion,  dear  compatriots,  it  is  good  to  add  my  voice  to  that  of  former  Governor  Peter  Obi who  opined:  ‘education  is  expensive;  therefore,  parents should  be  ready  to  pay  their  children’s school  fees’.  

I  believe  that  the  best  form  of  free  education  is  to  institute  a  scholarship  scheme  for students  who have distinguished  themselves  and  probably  for  indigent ones,  if  the  need  arises.

Fellow  Anambrarians,  the  above  is  part  of  the  dream  of  Hon.  Dr  Tony  Nwoye for  our  dear  state. Vote  Hon.  Dr  Tony  Nwoye  for  a  better  Anambra.

#OurTomorrowIsNow  

Engr  Ifeanyi  Anagwu  is  a  lecturer  of Chemical  Engineering  and  National Vice-President,  South-East, Chukwuemeka  Odumegwu  Ojukwu University  Alumni  Association   

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