Education is the bedrock of development and any nation toying with her Education sector is putting her future into jeopardy as no nation has grown beyond the level of education of her citizens. There is no better way to Express this as a foremost African, late Nelson Mandela succinctly put it when he posited, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world".
The major difference between the "third world" countries and the developed nations is the level of priority placed on education. A citizenry not educated is already confined to the penury of servitude and Slavery. This is the reason nations like ours cannot continue to pay lip service to education if we want to live and not just exist. The fulcrum of education is human capital development. Human capital development according to economists is a very important factor of production as it holds the key to the economic transformation of any organization or nation, and what that entails basically is correct education.
Our education sector cannot continue to play very low in the League of Nations if our desire to transform to a technology driven and industrialized nation does not go beyond a mantra. The reason we must address our curricula to meet up with the realities of the challenges of 21st century. ln the earliest possible time, agenda must be mapped out to revamp our various educational institutions across board and tailor them along a path relevant to the requisite tools for economic transformation, industrialization as well as information and communication technology.
That we should adequately fund our education sector is a paramount consideration in the project of nation building and that remains a capital intensive venture. A qualitative and functional education doesn't come cheap, a reason the United Nations' educational scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) recommended that nothing less than 26% of budgetary allocation on a yearly basis must be committed to the education sector to help fast track its development and position it as a tool of economic development and transformation. Our various laboratories must be equipped with state of the art tools across board amongst other materials that can aid mastery of technology while our students and their lecturers must be made to study in environment conducive for learning.
The lecturers too must be trained and retrained in the deployment of modern tools needed to impart knowledge to the students. Our various schools must also be adequately staffed. There is a school of thought which says; the ratio of teacher to student must be at most 1-50 for effective monitoring and implantation. If that is to be achieved, it follows that, provisions must be made especially in courses where the number of enrollment exceeds, so
that, the work can go smoothly. It is in the cardinal appreciation of this indisputable, that the Ekiti State Government under the leadership of Governor Kayode Fayemi recruited aggressively into the teaching line in the year 2020 for all the public schools in Ekiti State
Hinged on the above, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the Governor of Ekiti, also in his pragmatic affinity made students and teachers the critical consideration in setting the agenda for quality education. At the inception of his administration, an organized survey was carried out to investigate school and teacher effectiveness issues in Ekiti State, Nigeria. As a descriptive survey, teachers and students constituted the study population in any academic community. The findings from the study thus showed among others, that, teachers possessed adequate qualifications but their teaching was not effective. Fayemi noted that there should be a significant relationship between teacher effectiveness and school effectiveness, and the result of multiple regression analyses indicated that independent variables like teacher's classroom management skills and qualifications made significant positive contributions to teacher effectiveness. This suggestive excursion triggered a scientific monitoring and implementation of Governor Fyemi's education policy believing that serial and genuine implementation of policy is as important as its formulation. Fayemi ensured that the inspectorate division of the ministry of education takes seriously the monitoring of what goes on in our classrooms of learning and it's environs.
In the abiding passionate quest of promoting and encouraging academic excellence in Ekiti State, Dr. Fayemi initiated and granted merit-based bursary and scholarships to Undergraduates, Physically Challenged Undergraduates, Master's Degree and Doctoral degree students of Ekiti State origin studying in various higher institutions in the country as well as law students.
In terms of critical infrastructure in the education sector, Dr. Fayemi has continued with construction of new schools as well as renovation of old ones. He has demonstrated an unflagging commitment to the vision of leaving no school building untouched in the Operation Renovate All Schools in Ekiti State (ORASE) program he introduced through the
ministry of education and technology.
In addition to the brick and mortar interventions, the Government of Ekiti State supplied instructional materials to all public schools and ensured constant payment of running grants to all primary, secondary, and technical schools in the Ekiti State. Free and compulsory education programme which was introduced by Fayemi at the inception of his
administration are being sustained by the administration. What this masses-targeted educational policy of Fayemi has achieved is the exponential increase in the enrolment figures in the primary, secondary and technical schools in the state. From 106,271 pupils in
primary schools in 2018 to 140,518 pupils in 2020; 85,681 in secondary schools in 2018 to 109,542 pupils in 2020 and 240 students in technical colleges in 2018 to 910 students in 2020. What is also remarkable is that, a large percentage of the new enrolls were attracted from the private school sector in the State. This is an eloquent testimony that Dr. Kayode Fayemi's education policy is tremendously affecting the lives of the Ekiti people positively, particularly the poor masses who could not access quality education in the time past.
Fayemi's "obsession" with knowledge economy is borne out of his passion for excellence and its clearly aimed at ensuring productivity among the learned across board so as to ensure Ekiti State becomes destination of choice for the knowledge industry particularly as it concerns information and communication technology. He believes that knowledge economy, which is the quest for functional and values oriented education, will allow Ekiti education products become technologically competent and academically sound for the jobs of the future.
Ekiti State Government has approved a new education policy, which mandates the teaching of Information Communication and Technology (ICT). Fayemi noted that the new policy became not only imperative but also expedient to boost ICT know-how among the citizens and expand the scope of knowledge for more opportunities in the global community.This is to obviously ensure that global practices are put in place among Ekiti Students so that
teaching/learning will deliver and produce world class products in our contemporary times.
This proposed policy is cited covering six Thematic areas: human capital development,
infrastructure, awareness and communication, governance, financing and monitoring and evaluation.In his bid to achieving this laudable agenda, Dr. Fayemi is collaborating with the African Development Bank to finalize the development plan for the Ekiti Knowledge Zone (EKZ) in addition to completing the necessary formalities for its approval as a Special Economic Zone by the Federal government. With this sterling pace of moves, Ekiti will no doubt become a state to be reckoned with among the comity of states.
In 2018 upon assumption of office, Dr. Fayemi peeped into the Ekiti State School curriculum and saw reason in reviewing same to reflect modern day solution to the ravaging socio-economic and socio-cultural challenges confronting us as a people. He opined that the major function of our education is to make students the problem solver of any surrounded difficulties. Opined that any knowledge that doesn't amount to solution to any problem is useless and of no use.
Fayemi is also of the opinion that the curriculum of the Nigerian education sector as at present is obsolete and not capable of confronting modern day economic realities and as such purged the system off its anachronistic method of teaching and learning in the State. Fayemi believes that our graduates should be employable and be employers of labour. He is appalled seeing graduates dubbed employable sit down idly at home after many years of schooling because the kind of knowledge received hasn't equipped them with the requisite skill to wriggle out in the world they find themselves. Our modern day curricula must include subjects that imbued in them skills that will turn them to employers instead of bearers of CVs looking for who to employ them.
The trendy tools of economic stimulation are SMEs. Government across all levels have been providing various forms of incentives to encourage entrepreneurship amongst the populace as tools of economic Empowerment and solution to the the hydra headed monster of unemployment. Our fresh graduates are the most positioned section of our working population to take advantage of it but they must first be imbued with such skills to be able to do that and this can only be possible if our curricula reflect it. The introduced free education policy into the Ekiti education system by Governor Fayemi is the fulfillment of his promise during his electioneering campaign.
The entirety of the programme is about quantitative and quality education at all levels in Ekiti State as this practically becomes all inclusive agenda involving the students, the teachers, the parents, the corporate and civil organizations and the public. It also involves good infrastructure, the conducive environment and every other value that can aid development in the sector. So, in Ekiti State, no student is asked to pay a Kobo in school or whatever fee. Dr. Kayode Fayemi did not just make it a lip service, a caveat and warning to all the School principals and head teachers also followed for compliance, that whosoever goes contrary to the policy will be sanctioned accordingly. With this policy, the sincere intention of the Governor was to create enabling and affordable situation for every parent to enroll their kids in school. The ardent philosophical believe of Governor Kayode Fayemi is that, the moment sound education is provided, there will be a significant improvement in the education sector and of course positive lapping effects on the entire economy.
That is why the government of Ekiti State is investing huge resources on the sector. There is no gainsaying that Ekiti State is widely known as the Fountain of Knowledge whilst uncompromising effort is in force with appreciable determination by the Kayode Fayemi administration to maintain that identity Mantra.
Olalekan Soyombo, is the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Kayode Fayemi on Student's Matters ,wrote from Ado-Ekiti.