The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has reiterated the need to pay critical attention to the development of basic education, urging the federal government to take deliberate and urgent steps towards reducing a large number of out-of-school children in the country.
Obaseki gave the charge when he received the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu; the management of Universal Basic Education Commission, and the Chairmen of State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEB), who were on a courtesy visit at the Government House, Benin City.
The governor, who expressed worry over the rising number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to disband Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) if it fails to return 50 percent of the children back to school.
According to him, “We have 50 million or so children under our care and over 10 million of them are not in school. What is our reason for existing if we have this kind of problem?
“So, for me, Mr. President, if UBEC and SUBEB cannot get 50 percent of these school children back to school in the next two to three years, disband them as there is no basis for it.
“First, if we do not focus on basic education and restore quality into our basic educational system, what we are having today as banditry will be a joke in another ten to twenty years’ time.”
Obaseki noted, “For us in Edo, we had no choice because you find children leaving secondary schools, either working as barbers or something else. Some even sell whatever they have because someone has promised them a job in Europe or travel to Libya.
“At a point in time, we had about 30 thousand young men and women from Edo in Libya, waiting to cross to Europe. If they had education and could think, read and write, they would ask more questions before deciding to embark on such a risk.
You can imagine; if we had over 30 thousand of them in Libya, how many would have died in trying to cross? The problem is that they were not properly educated.”
“For us, that was a wake-up call. For my brothers in the North East and North West, with the rising wave of banditry, I think the wakeup call is to bring these children back to school and get them to learn,” he advised.
Enumerating the administration’s efforts at improving basic education in the state, Obaseki further noted: “What was the Edo miracle? The first was to tell ourselves the truth that the structure of SUBEB we met was not working. So, I had to post out everybody we met and recruited fresh ones into the system. We focused on training our teachers as part of our reforms in transforming our education.
“We trained our teachers on how to use technology to teach. The training was focused on the use of YouTube to make the children interested in learning; it was focused on using the tablet, which we gave them, to remove the drudgery of preparing lesson notes and monitoring the attendance of the students. For them, it was practical and motivational.”
“So, community participation is also key in transforming our schools. Infrastructure is also key, but a fine school without well-trained and equipped teachers won’t impact quality education,” he added.
Earlier, the minister, who was represented by Basic and Secondary Education Director, Dr. Folake Olatunji-David, said that Edo was chosen as the destination for their quarterly meeting due to its stride in using technology.
He stated, “It’s not by any coincidence that Edo is hosting this quarterly meeting, bearing in mind strides and commendable steps your state has been taking in the field of education.
“So, we are here to enjoy the hospitality of the good people of Edo State. And to deliberate, we are looking at enhancing accessibility and standards of basic education through technology-driven initiatives.”