Free education reinstates 43,000 out–of-school children in Oyo ― Stakeholders’ appraisal

The implementation of the free education policy agenda of governor Seyi Makinde in Oyo State has met the government’s vision, as it has reinstated not less than 43,000 out-of-school children into basic and secondary school education programmes in the state.

The development has also improved the academic performance of Senior Secondary school students in their external and internal examinations.

This was revealed at a 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 Fund, Akure Field Office, held at Kakanfo Inn, Ibadan, recently.

The programme drew participants from various educational service-related ministries and agencies in the state and also from the community to appraise and critique the impact of free education on the education reform process ongoing in the state.

Mr Olusegun Salaam from the Ministry of Education in his presentation noted that in 2019, governor Seyi Makinde presented a document on Roadmap for 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 other government focus on educational advancement.

The state Commissioner for Education Science and Technology, Olasunkanmi Olaleye( (a Barrister), in his opening address at the occasion, declared that education stakeholders in the state were invited to the meeting 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 that are yet to be addressed by the policy.

The commissioner stated that the distribution of textbooks customised notebooks and compendium of WAEC and NECO past questions, as well as the introduction of free intervention classes for the Senior Secondary final year students in the state to prepare them for the external examinations, drastically improved the academic performance of Oyo State students in the West African School Certificate Examinations better than the previous administration experience.

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

Olaleye noted the contributions of UNICEF towards education development in Oyo State, as he urged the international body not to relent in its bid to support education development in Oyo State.

Also speaking at the programme, Director Planning, Research and Statistics, Ministry Of Education Science and Technology, Mr Lukman Kareem, while encouraging the participants, especially the parent representatives and religious leaders during the interactive section, reiterated government expectations from the society, as education stakeholders, to consolidate government’s efforts in its bid to transform education in the state.

He urged the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) chairmen in the public schools in the state to encourage old students of their schools to contribute to the development of their alma matter, adding that the present administration would want suggestions and cooperation from the general public on how to move education forward in the state.

The State chairman, Parent Teacher Association, Mr Adebayo Oyawale and Mrs Elisabeth Osunbunmi, who represented the market women in the state at the programme admitted the positive development in education since governor Seyi Makinde assumed office in 2019.

According to them, the free education programme with other educational incentives programme of the governor has enhanced the learning and academic performance of students in the public school.

They, however, urged the government to invest more in the physical development of public schools in the state, especially in the areas of renovation and provision of chairs and tables for the students.

Similarly, the Permanent Secretary, Teaching Service Commission, Mrs Grace Oderinde and the Acting Executive Secretary Agency for Adult and Non- Formal Education, Mr Olakunleyin Nathaniel described the meeting as an avenue where people could give suggestions that can foster education development in the state.

According to them, the impact of free education policy is felt positively on parents, children and the entire community.

Mrs Oderinde declared that the state government would no longer recruit novice into the teaching profession in the state, adding that the 5,000 people that government-employed recently were professionals who would add value to the academic excellence of students.

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

Murtala, who made his remark via zoom, encouraged the state government to deploy measuring, mentoring, monitoring, reporting and documentation, as well as investment in education for emergency response tools in the execution process of education policy in the state.

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