The indelible postulation of the late American Social Crusader, Malcom-X, might have been the philosophy behind the renewed efforts in Osun State to resuscitate academic excellence from the very beginning.
Malcom-X posited education is the passport to the future, because the future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Of course, the very illuminator of the darkest side of life, and the assuring instrument of better future remains qualitative education.
Irrespective of the economic condition of a country, an educated person still have the hope of a better future, and little comfort, unlike an unlettered person, whose hope lies in his strength and ability to “hustle” and make ends meet.
It is with this mindset that the administration of Mr Rauf Aregbesola revisited the tenets of education in the state, and devised the robust strategy of restoring the glory of education in line with the road map entrenched in the defunct Western Region in which the present Osun State was part and parcel.
Aregbesola, upon his assumption of office, held an unprecedented education summit, where erudite scholars and veteran educationists brainstormed on the way to rescue the comatose educational system in the state, while rekindling the consciousness of academic excellence in the pupils and students alike.
The re-classification of schools to elementary, middle and high schools categories was a direct product of the summit. According to the Deputy Governor, Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori, who doubles as the Commissioner for Education in the state, “the re-classification policy is a conscious effort towards repositioning schools in our state from what we met in 2010 to its rightful position of honour and excellence.
“It is not in any way a system of merger as some people mischievously say; it tends towards restructuring the schools in all ramifications for better performance and a means of giving socio-economic power to these future leaders.
Indeed, the evergreen definition of education by the great South African leader, Nelson Mandela, quite captures Tomori’s position, “education is power, it is the only weapon to change the world.”
The act of restructuring the educational system in Osun and make it meaningful must start from the beginning, that is, the basic education in the state must be made functional and efficient, with desirable human resources and necessary infrastructure.
The comprehensive analysis of the psychology of the pupils and students alike has revealed that conducive environment with modern facilities and moderate incentives drastically reduce truancy and absentism, and aid the level of learning and assimilation in no small way, hence the massive construction of schools across the state, and continuity of the school feeding system.
This present administration is strongly determined to reform the education sector in the state with passion and utmost commitment, particularly in elementary and middle schools, which form the foundation phase of educational growth and development across the globe.
This conviction has been proven through several giant strides that have been taking place in the sector since this government came on board, despite the serious economic crunch that befell our nation since 2014, when there was an acute drop in the federal allocations to states as a result of the oil glut.
The government has embarked on aggressive and massive infrastructural developments such as construction of new 31 model schools, in bungalows and storey buildings, fully equipped with modern students and pupils’ furniture, ICT equipment, science laboratories, water and electricity for the purpose of building sustainable and strong academic foundation for pupils in the state and make them responsible citizens.
There is, indeed, a passionate focus and emphasis on basic education, that was what informed the re-classification of schools for greater efficiency and optimal maximisation of human resources, the policy intrinsically reformed the 6-3-3-4 , where a pupil will spend his four years in the elementary school, another five years in the middle school, and the rest three in the high school.
Without mincing words, facilities in most of the schools were in terrible conditions before 2010, and this pathetic situation was responsible for high level of truancy in schools, where primary school pupils at the lesson hours would be busy in the bush hunting or fetching firewood.
The situation has changed today, with education being given its place of pride in the state; kudos should, therefore, be given to the Osun State government for its pragmatic efforts in making basic education more efficient and effective.
- Ajibola is a public affairs analyst.