‘Free education has taken 43,000 children off the street in Oyo State’

THE free education programme of the Seyi Makinde government in Oyo State has started to yield the anticipated results as it has reinstated no fewer than 43,000 out-of-school children in basic and secondary school education programmes  in the state.

The development has also improved the academic performance of senior secondary school students in the external and internal examinations.

This was revealed at a recent one-day interactive programme organised  for education stakeholders in the state  by the state Ministry of Education Science and Technology, in collaboration  with the United  Nations  Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Akure Field Office, held at the Kakanfo Inn, Ibadan, Oyo State.

The programme which drew participants from educational service-related ministries and agencies in the state, as well as the community, appraised the impact of the free education programme on the ongoing education reform process in the state.

In his presentation, Mr Olusegun Salaam, from the Ministry of Education recalled that in 2019, Governor Makinde  presented a  document  on the road map for an accelerated development to serve as the guideline to transform  education  in the state.

According to him, part of the objectives of the document was to improve access and expand opportunities, assuring quality and relevance education provision, among others.

The state Commissioner for Education Science and Technology,  Olasunkanmi  Olaleye, in his opening address at the event, declared  that the meeting brought  together the state’s education stakeholders to ruminate and  determine whether  the free education policy is adequately addressing the national enrolment drive in the state, and to also identify possible areas to be  addressed  by the policy.

The commissioner said the distribution of textbooks, customised notebooks, a compendium of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Commission (NECO) past  questions, as well as the introduction of free intervention classes for the Senior Secondary School (SSS) final year students, have drastically improved  the academic performance  of  Oyo State students in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

According to him, the regular payment of teachers’ salary and investment in their capacity building  have  enhanced their productivity, adding that  recruitment of 5,000 qualified and competent  teachers  to improve the staff strength in all the state’s public schools will further boost learning and students’ academic performance in the state.

While noting the contributions of UNICEF towards education development in the state,  Olaleye  urged the international  body  not to relent  in its efforts at supporting education development in Oyo State.

Also speaking at the programme, the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Ministry Of Education Science and Technology,  Mr Lukman  Kareem, urged  the Parent-Teacher-Association (PTA) chairmen in the state’s public schools to encourage their old students to contribute to the development of their alma mater.

The duo of the Permanent Secretary, Teaching Service Commission, Mrs  Grace Oderinde and the acting Executive  Secretary, Agency for  Adult and Non-Formal Education, Mr Olakunleyin  Nathaniel, noted that parents, children and the entire community are feeling the  impact of the free education policy in the state.

UNICEF Education Specialist B-Field Office, Akure, Dr Murtala  Adogi Mohammed, commended the  Oyo State government for the ongoing progressive  education development in the state.

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