by Tony Nwoye
One of the best ways to tackle youth unemployment and support economic and social growth is through education – not just within the classroom, and at a young age – but long-term learning that focuses on skills development and growth.
Despite the shortcomings of today’s educational system, Anambra state, without doubt, has made commendable advances in education, particularly in the observable increase in child enrolment and improved outings in external examinations. This, I must acknowledge and commend all efforts made by past and present governments to achieve these feet.
However, it is pertinent to note that this success we have recorded has bred new challenges which require that our attention must now shift to improving the quality of education and accelerating learning in our rural areas.
My Government will first of all look at the system of education in the state in order to find what works well in the system, note key challenges that inhibit its growth and take a fresh approach by creating new educational strategies that will be embedded in what I shall term Learning for a living from the bottom up approach.
My policy on education will be learning for a Living.
Learning for a living implies that every Anambra Child and youth irrespective of location, social status or sex will not only go to school, but also acquire knowledge and skills that are required to lead a healthy and productive life and secure meaningful employment.
It will lay serious emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the simple reason of growth, development and poverty reduction and not necessarily the number of hours or years one sits in a classroom.
Meanwhile, the volume of CVs I receive daily as a federal legislator, further expose me to the pains and anguish of several of our graduates and school leavers who are roaming the street with their WAEC results, diplomas and degrees looking for jobs everywhere.
I do make out time to peruse through these CVs and often times personally interact with some of the applicants and my observation is that though the good point is that at the individual level, these certificates they have acquired may open doors to employment for them, but it does not in all cases guarantee that the person may be productive.
The truth remains that what actually determines one’s productivity and ability to adapt to new technologies and opportunities is the quality of knowledge and skillset that he/she acquired. Knowledge and skills contribute to an individual’s ability to have a healthy and educated family and engage in civic life
My education strategy aims to build on these challenges by setting out new objectives together with strategic directions and instruments for implementation from Local Governments through the communities and to the wards.
I have a strong belief that the solutions to our educational challenges can be found within and I really don’t need to promise Ndi Anambra that I will go and copy Harvard model to paste in Nsugbe or bring down Oxford to Awka while I know that there are observable working systems within.
Let’s take a practical example of what we have in the state already as I would like to use two most famous secondary schools in the state namely Christ the King College and Dennis Memorial Grammar School both in Onitsha.
These are schools that are domiciled in the state and populated with pupils with sponsors who share in this harsh economic reality of our nation or state, yet they comparatively produce students whose majority excel in their various life endeavours.
From this angle, I am obliged to ask some key question thus:
What are the enabling factors that make them produce many quality students?
Is their curriculum different from others elsewhere?
While seeking for answers for such obvious disparity in results and products from two sets of schools domiciled in the same environment and populated by Ndi Anambra provides me with the inspiration that the solution to our challenges can be found within.
Thus, my first mission in government shall be to adopt these schools as it were as a model and prototype for all the post-primary schools in the state.
Then, we will develop an education master plan using them as the benchmark and see how we can implement them at the 21 Local Government levels down to the Communities.
This will be enshrined in our 10 years Education masterplan and strategy with the first phase of five years concentrating on how best to replicate CKC and DMGS prototypes in the 21 local Governments and subsequently in 177 communities.
Ministry of Education will take an assessment of all the Public secondary schools using the standards they must have formulated from their studies of the two prototypes in view and select the best schools that compete in terms of structures, quality of staff and other variables from each LGA or community.
The chosen school will now be upgraded to the standard of the prototype.
During the upgrade, dilapidated structures will be rehabilitated new ones constructed, more facilities provided, qualified teachers employed and whatever that is necessary will be taken care of.
This way, we would have saved cost since we are not embarking on a complete fresh construction of schools while using same efforts to bring access to quality education very close to the grassroots.
Another fear that may be expressed by the people will be about hike in school fees.
While I cannot sit here to promise Ndi Anambra Free Education in the state, I am certain that the current fees in the state will not be increased, rather it will be reduced and my government shall make education grant available.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Dr Tony Nwoye MHR