By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
The Chief of Staff to the Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Dr. Gbade Ojo, has said rejigging the education sector in the state has become imperative in the light of the unimpressive performance of students in public secondary schools in the state.
His submission came against the backdrop of the recent misconception that trailed the planned initiative of the state government to partner interested stakeholders in giving a facelift to secondary education in the state.
According to him, the opposition has over-exploited the gullible population of the state, using their lack of access to adequate information, data and empirical evidences from other climes to hold them captive.
“They sold lies about Ajimobi to the people and concluded that he was planning to sell schools in the state to missionaries,” which is he said, was far from the truth.
Dr. Ojo reiterated further that a public policy, no matter how robust, might not be wholly acceptable to all but a large chunk should heave a sigh of relieve with the public policy which is aimed at achieving public good.
He noted that the two contentious issues being peddled by the irreverent critics of Ajimobi’s administration were the introduction of a thousand naira development levy in public secondary schools and the plan to partner interested stakeholders in the management of some public schools, out of the total 631 public secondary schools in the state.
He said these two issues appear like a policy shock to the down-trodden more so in a state which he said, is reputed to be the intellectual capital of Nigeria.
“The fundamental question is why the need for partnership? It is open secret to say that the sector is nothing to write home about. It take courageous and patriotic governor to attempt a general overhaul. This is what the Senator Ajimobi-led administration seeks to do,” Ojo explained.
“t is instructive to note that between 2007 till date, the state government expended a total sum of N3.2 billion naira on public examinations. With that, the highest pass rate ever was in 2011 with 20.55%. In 2007, 52,551 registered for WASCE with entry fee of N3,250.00 per candidate. Government paid a total sum of N170,790,150.00. Only 3,706 could manage to get five credits and above. Percentage pass was 7.05%.
“Government lost N158,745,650.00. In 2008, 55,878 candidates registered with entry fee of N3,500.00. Just 5,608 could get five credits and above with 10.04% pass rate. Government forfeited N175,945,000 on the failures. In 2009, the bad trend continued.
“Out of 52,484 that registered, the pass rate was 14.11%. In 2010, 52,448 candidates registered and only 7,357 could manage to pass, that is, 14.03% pass rate. By 2011 when this administration came on board, 60,000 candidates registered, 12,327 passed with five credits and above which translated to 20.55% pass rate which was to be the highest ever!
“With population explosion and desire for education, more candidates registered in 2012, with as many as 67,786, the highest figure since 2007 which is under our purview, but 9,973 only too could pass WASCE at 14.71% pass rate. In 2013, 55,432 registered with 10,285 securing five credits and above, i.e. 18.55% pass rate. The story was not really different in 2014 and 2015 with 54,862 and 59,945 respectively registered with WAEC.
“Nevertheless, if between 2007 till date, Oyo State WASCE candidates have not recorded 25% pass rate talk less of 50%, automatically, the sector requires general overhaul. To do this, the state government took a holistic view of the situation,” stressing that this was done by targeting students/pupils, parents, teachers and infrastructure.”
The chief of staff recalled that long before the 2015 elections, a total of 5,300 teaching and non-teaching staff were recruited to redress the anomaly, adding that the sector required well-thought out policy beyond mere recruitment of teachers.
He revealed that in Ajimobi’s quest to reposition and further enhance education through concerted efforts of stakeholders in the state in his second term, took some bold steps among which include the enforcement of 80% attendance for all students to ensure good performance in external and internal examinations.
“Students who fail to make 80% attendance may not be eligible for promotion examinations,” Ojo affirmed.
“Not only that, extra-mural classes were re-invigorated for JSS3 and SS3 students in all public secondary schools to add quality time to the teaching period.”
He restated the state government’s determination as part of its hallmark policy on education, to partner desired stakeholders who might want to be involved in the running of some of these schools.
“The state government seeks to promote the participation of more investors at the secondary school level so that better products get to the tertiary level. Government cannot afford to be complacent in the education sector, pointing out that the rot over the years had now been telling with debilitating concomitant effect on the education sector in the state.
Similarly, the chief of staff added that the negative effect is that more products of private schools would get admitted into tertiary institutions, which Ojo opined would be very dangerous for the state and the society at large.
Dr. Ojo, however, appealed to the state citizenry to encourage smooth implementation of the planned partnership, which according to him, would lead to the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people and would further complement government’s efforts at providing free and qualitative education in the state.