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Education: Where Are We Now?

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Education according to experts is the bedrock of any nation. Researchers have also made it clear that once we get education right, every other issue affecting the citizenry would be right. This perhaps explains why Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s administration deems quality education as one of the legacies it would bequeath the youth of Rivers State.

   The education sector in Rivers State has been described by many, both at home and abroad as world-class, a pedigree which other states of the federation are now trying to emulate.

   When you say that Rivers State has become a model for education in Nigeria, you are no doubt saying the obvious. The  education sector has witnessed a massive transformation under the leadership of Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. When Governor Amaechi assumed office a few years ago, he decided on pulling down the old and dilapidated primary school buildings and erecting world-class edifices with state-of-the art facilities that cannot be compared with any of its kind in Nigeria.

Apart from furnishing the primary schools which have football fields with synthetic tracks, larger capacity halls, sick bays with modern medical equipment, libraries and generating sets, modern computer laboratories with projectors and internet facilities, the head teachers’ offices are also furnished with functional computers to make teaching and learning easier and faster for the pupils for whom Chibuike Amaechi had declared free and compulsory education. Every child of school age is provided with text books, school uniforms, and physical education (PE) wears, school bags, shoes, sandals and a pair of socks.

It is also of interest that the dormitories are constructed as rooms with two-bed space, wardrobe, reading tables and chairs with the floors completely tiled.

How else could pupils and students of those model schools be comfortable? It shows that Governor Chibuike Amaechi, means well for the people of Rivers State.

It could be recalled that before now, some pupils and students in some schools sat on the floor because, there were no desks. Many of them learnt under trees. There were not enough teachers to handle some key subjects’ areas in some schools.

But today, the story is different. The kind of desks one sees at the new model primary and secondary schools are fantastic. The present administration moved some teachers from where they were not contributing optimally  to the schools which lacked teachers and where they could be more productive.

The education sector under the supervision of the Commissioner for Education, Dame Alice Lawrence-Nemi, is no doubt achieving its goal.

Toward ensuring quality teaching, not less than 10,000 teachers are to be recruited  in Rivers State to improve the teaching standard while others  including head teachers and principals will be trained   and retrained.

Recently, 40 teachers were trained in English Language skills by the government in collaboration with Etisalat (a Telecommunication firm) and the British Council in Nigeria.

The Commissioner for education, Dame Alice Lawrence-Nemi, also assured that upgrading of old public schools in Rivers State is the Ministry’s priority in 2012.

As part of programmes to restore academic excellence and cultivate good learning and discipline in schools, the state government organised science quiz and debate competitions to improve pupils’ and students’ vocabulary from time to time including French holiday lessons and tours.

Also, many Rivers indigenes have been granted scholarship to study overseas.

The Amaechi government has upgraded the former Rivers State College of Education to a University of Education, while the Rivers State University of Science and Technology is to be relocated  to the new Greater Port Harcourt City.

According to government’s mission statement on this, “the new university would be a leading centre of academic excellence in Africa and beyond; a world-class university with world-class facilities, which would be manned by a team of committed administrators, academics and researchers of high calibre, who share the founding vision of making the new university to be ranked among the best 1,000 universities in the world by 2020”.

It is hoped that by the time this objective is achieved, RSUST would be equal to none in Nigeria and in Africa.

Expressing its concern about the education of children who are tucked away in remote areas and who usually migrate to different locations of fishing settlements with their parents, the state government ensured that their education was              enhanced under the Migrant Fishermen scheme, by handing of boats and canoes to the headteachers of the migrant schools to ease their transportation.

As the new model secondary schools

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are to be functional soon, the state government has already engaged the managers of the schools. The Commissioner for Education, Dame Alice Lawrence-Nemi, explained that the managers are a big consortium known as Educomps, who speicalise in managing schools around the world, (especially in England, India and the United States of America). The criteria for admission of students into the schools, she said, would be based on merit, after undergoing series of examinations which would be supervised by the school managers.

Concerning the recruitment of teachers, “It would be based on merit also”, the commissioner emphasised.

In a bid to ensure that the qualitative education promised the citizenry is achieved with the completion of new model schools, the present administration has directed that about 10,000 new teachers be employed. Governor Amaechi said the plan is geared at boosting the manpower in the education sector.

Earlier, the state ministry of education had expressed determination to ensure that its educational policy meets the required standard as the state governor has commenced steps towards engaging adequate and qualified manpower in its primary and post-primary schools.

According to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr Richard Ofuru, the recruitment would cover all subjects taught in both primary and secondary schools while the non-academic staff recruitment would be for laboratory technicians and security personnel.

The applicants, our correspondent gathered, would be subjected to a screening examination while only shortlisted applicants would be invited for interview. Recruitment will be based on merit.

In the words of the governor, “we are employing 10,000 teachers and Rivers State alone cannot give us 10,000 teachers. So it is open to everybody that is qualified and lives in the state”.

It would be recalled that Amaechi’s administration has built over 2,590 new model primary schools in the twenty three local government areas of the state, while many are at various stages of completion.

The Commissioner for Education, Dame Alice Lawrence-Nemi, said government would commission 200 model primary schools in 200 communities in 2012.

The education boss, said “this year would be a year, when Rivers people would be proud of the governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, adding that the new model schools would be for both the rich and the poor.

The truth of the matter is that the new model primary and secondary schools established by the Rivers State government have met international standards. One may be tempted to describe the model school buildings as university buildings.

It should be interesting to us in Rivers State that people come from other states to see and emulate this successful gesture by the present administration.

When those model secondary schools become functional with full academic activities and the pupils and students start benefiting, we will appreciate what the governor has done for the state regarding education.

Some of the  model secondary schools                 are:

i.   Model Secondary School           Ebubu, Eleme

ii.   Model Secondary School         Oyigbo                                        iii.   Model Secondary School Omuma          iv.     Model Secondary School                    Emohua

v.         Model Secondary School Asari-                     Toru

vi.        Model Secondary SchoolAndoni          vii.    Model Secondary School                    Degema

viii.      Model Secondary School                    PHALGA

ix.        Model Secondary School                    Isiokpo, Ikwerre

x.         Model Secondary School                     Ubima, Ikwerre

xi.        Model Secondary School Obio/                      Akpor

The budget for education this year (2012) according to the state government is about N68 billion. The reason, according to government is because of the governor’s vision of completing all on-going education projects. The development, many believe would greatly reduce the number of unemployed graduates in the state and help transform the education sector.

One of those who spoke to our Special Correspondent, Mr Rich Amos, commended the Rivers State government for opening up employment opportunity to include non-indigenes in the state.

Amos, a retired teacher, said such action would contribute positively to the manpower development of the citizenry because those who are qualified would give  what they have.

He said the gesture also indicates that the government is not biased. According to him, any non-indigenes who are employed into Rivers State civil service can earn a living and pay his rent and tax through the salaries he would receive.

A civil servant in Port Harcourt, Mr Orlu Ndah, stressed that the government may have planned such budget bearing in mind that it would add more 10,000 teachers into the education sector this year.

According to Mr Ndah, “I don’t think that would affect the government’s funds in anyway”.

Also expressing his views, a teacher in Port Harcourt, Mr Joshua Idu, said

“When you look at the environment of the new model schools, you would be convinced that the government of Rivers State can cope with the salaries and allowances of the new 10,000 teachers to be employed.

A computer instructor at the CPS Olanada, in Port Harcourt, Mr Victor Okon, explained that two (2) instructors are enough to teach computer studies in one school.

Mr Victor Okon, who is a staff of Link Serve Computers in charge of the training, stated that the use of projectors would make it easier to teach the pupils stressing that initially it was difficult because of the different background they come from.

Okon said now, the pupils know what computer is, can operate it effectively and even create some graphic designs as well as log in various portals using the internet.

Another teacher, Mrs Charity Emmanuel, explained that before now, they had overcrowded classes but after the building and equipping of the new model schools and the limited number of pupils to 30 per class, management of the class has become easier.

She noted that the number of pupils in a class facilitates teaching and learning because there is a closer interaction between the teacher and the pupils.

The second head teacher of CPS Olanada, Mrs Edna Benjamin said government really needs to employ more hands especially because of the introduction of new studies such as computers, projectors and video.

Mrs Benjamin advised that specialists in those areas should be employed to make the system real and effective adding that the additional subjects are a burden to the teachers since they are teaching all the subjects.

Another teacher, Mrs  Iwu said that time had come when teachers should teach according to their area of specialisation at the primary level as it is done at the secondary school level noting that it is better to build the children right from the primary stage. She mentioned areas of study such as Mathematics, English Language, French, Computer etc.

In her view, a primary 6 pupil in Port Harcourt, Miss Chinwendu Collins expressed appreciation to the governor of Rivers State, for building new model schools, donating of text books, bags, shoes and a pair of socks to the pupils.

She maintained that before, they were not using computer but this government of Amaechi had made it possible for them to be computer literate.

 

Eunice Choko-Kayode

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MAN Boss Wants Students To Join Manufacturing Sector

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The Chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Rivers/Bayelsa Branch, Senator Adawari Michael Pepple has charged the graduating students of Showers Christian High School to join the manufacturing sector now, in order to excel faster in life.
Senator Pepple  said this while delivering his speech on the theme,”Working in the Lord’s Vineyard, Manufacturing Option”, at Showers 2020/2021 graduation ceremony in MAN’s conference hall, Port Harcourt.
 He noted that no nation has become industrialised without the manufacturing sector, adding, “for developing economy like Nigeria to move to a developed economy, we must be serious with the manufacturing sector”.
The guest speaker urged the graduands to think big and make up their minds to join the sector which he said is the highest employers of labour outside government.
He warned against sitting down to wait for white collar jobs which does not allow for expansion, adding, “all you need is hardwork, commitment and the ability to transform a raw material into a finished product”.
Also speaking, the chairman of the occasion, Engr. Vincent Nnadi, congratulated the graduating students of Showers, stating that, “the best results TotalEnergies  projects for her children always comes from Showers students.
He commended the “Catch Dem Young” programme of the company in collaboration with Evo and Egi Kingdoms as a transforming force and charged the graduands to develop themselves the more.
“Take advantage of the local content law and face the competitive world”, he said, stressing the need to start Showers University.
The representative of TotalEnergies, Engr. Okechukwu Obara, who is the Deputy General Manager, Community Affairs Development Programme (CADP) said the benefits of the programme cannot be over emphasised, stating that the streaming down programme could not stop it.
Engr. Obara noted that any child given an opportunity can compete effectively with others even from the developed countries.
In her speech, the Executive Managing Director of the school, Mrs. Emilia Akpan said: “ Catch Dem Young (CDY) programme sponsored by TotalEnergies has produced notable results over the years.
They have proved that, given the right mentoring and support, they can do as well as other students with more privileged backgrounds. 
“The students have consistently improved their results over the years, since 2013.
“The Class of 2020 produced the best results in Cambridge International Examinations in Nigeria in the O’ Level categories. All the four students entered in the November 2020 Cambridge International Examination, passed with flying colours.  
In her speech, the head girl of the graduands, Atili Tamunosisi Jaja said, “the months have been full of mixed experiences, and they have contributed  immensely to our growth.  The experiences have given us opportunity to have more focus on our areas of interests and helped us to have a crystal-clear idea on how to develop and achieve our vision and future careers”.

By: Lilian Peters

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Don Advocates Organic Trajectory For Food Production

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A Professor of Agricultural Economics in Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUE), Prof. Sixtus Anyanwu, has called for the use of Organic Agriculture for an increased agricultural productivity, poison-free food consumption and sustainable food security.
Anyanwu made the call during his Inaugural Lecture titled The Contemporary Trajectories for Increased Agricultural Productivity in Nigeria’ at the university’s main campus, Rumuolumeni, PortHarcourt, last Wednesday.
Anyanwu said the call became imperative following the challenges posed by the inorganic agricultural system not only on the economy but the health of the Nigerian population.
Anyanwu stated that the trajectory for the reported increased agricultural productivity required reexamination to determine it’s roles in the contemporary global warming occasioned by soil, ground water and general environmental pollution, adding that if such pathways were implicated in the exacerbation of human misery or fails the test of environmental sustainability, then, an alternative trajectory becomes a desideratum.
The Agricultural expert who noted with dismay the apparent scarcity of inorganic fertilizers,  tardiness in its supply as well as the environmental hazards associated with its use stressed the need for the extensive practice of the organic manure and indeed organic agriculture.
Anyanwu said: Increased agricultural productivity is dependent on the fertility of the soil. In the 1950s, most of the nutrient needs of crops were supplied by the natural fertility of the soil and added manure while inorganic fertilizers comprised only an insignificant percentage of the nutrients needed for grain production. 
“However, certain inadvertent environmental and human health externalities of the mineral fertiliser driven trajectory for increased agricultural productivity has made the interrogation of this pathway a desideratum in the search for a more sustainable food security paradigm”.
While explaining that organic agriculture was a form of agriculture that uses sustainable natural resources and strategies such as the application of bio-fertilisers, biological pest control and crop rotation, Anyanwu revealed that extensive usage of organic manure was already culturally acceptable to the farmers because livestocks rearing was already an integral part of their farming systems.
The expert therefore recommended that organic agriculture trajectory be considered due to the salient attributes and available data based empirical evidence particularly of a safe consumption of agricultural produce.

By: Lady Godknows Ogbulu

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NGO To Organise Education Talk Show In PH

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The Centre for Social Transformation and Human Development (CHDST) in collaboration with the Nigeria Network and Campaign for Peace Education has reiterated its readiness to organise  the first Independent Talking Across Generations on Education (iTAGe) event in Africa.
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by the organisers, Dr Polycarp Henetu and  Collins Imoh and made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt at the weekend.
According to the statement,  the  event would  be in  partnership with UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP). 
It also hinted that the  high profile-event will hold on September 4,  2021 in Port Harcourt  and added that participants will be drawn across the country.
It further revealed that  emphasis would be made  on youth engaging with senior policy makers on “Deepening a Culture of Peace and Democracy through Education’,  over the years, on TAGe events held in India, USA, and Canada.
Defining its nature and purpose, it stated that   MGIEP focuses more on achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.7 towards education to foster peaceful and sustainable societies by developing programmes and products that promote social and emotional learning, innovate digital pedagogies and empower the youth.
About Talking Across Generations on Education (TAGe) initiative, it said that it was  a youth-driven intergenerational dialogue on education,  premised on the centrality of the transformative nature of dialogue.
“The world is home to more than 1.8 billion young people. More often than not, these young people are pushed to the periphery of the policy making process in the areas of education, peace, sustainability and global citizenship; they are not viewed as key stakeholders. MGIEP believes that any strategy aimed at the youth cannot be successful without their voice being heard by policy makers.
“Therefore, effective engagement of Nigerian youth should include incorporating perspectives from young people into each component of policy making, education opportunities, programme planning and other vital national/international decision-making avenues. This lies at the core of the Talking Across Generations on Education project”, it said.
 In addition, it hinted that the dialogue in Port Harcourt will be expected to achieve these objectives by facilitating an unrestrained dialogue between young people interested in the field of education together with experienced and high-level senior decision makers for an intergenerational dialogue on education.

By: King Onunwor

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