Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has expressed the resolve of his administration to make public schools in the state first choice for all in terms of the quality and relevance of infrastructure and teaching staff that will be put in them.
He made this declaration at the Kwara Education Futures Summit held on Thursay in Ilorin, the state capital.
The event was organised by the state government to discuss issues around basic education and harvest the inputs of various stakeholders in the education sectors who participated as panelists and discussants.
In his speech, the Kwara State Governor said his first preoccupation in office was to check up on the state of “our schools”, noting it was a sorry tale.
“We got down to work immediately. Two years down the road, my team and I are proud to report that the situation has changed. We have restored our relationship with key partners after years of blacklist. We have reshaped public perception about teaching by engaging the best minds into the system. Work is ongoing in some 600 basic schools to give our children a befitting learning environment,” he explained.
Adding, AbdulRazaq said, “Our goal is to make public schools the first choice for all in terms of the quality and relevance of our infrastructure and teaching staff in the digital age. As a show of our commitment to education, we have recently surpassed the UNESCO budgetary threshold of 26%. Even so, it is clear that the government cannot do this alone.
“Huge gaps still exist. For instance, our recent school census across four local government areas show that 41% of our teachers are absent at their duty post. No single teacher was seen in 54 of the 368 schools sampled, while 23% of students on head teachers’ record were not in school during the census. Only 15% of the schools sampled were rated as needing no repair, implying that 85% of our classrooms require various forms of rehabilitation. The picture is bleaker when you consider availability or adoption of technology in our schools. The gender parity index for ratio of girls to boys in our school is another source of worry.
“So, we need everyone on board. We do not have all the answers. And we certainly do not have enough resources that will provide the right environment for every Kwara child to thrive in the new world, irrespective of their social standing.
“At this Kwara Education Futures Summit, we will analyse the current state of education in Kwara and develop actionable plan to build a new generation who can hold their own anywhere in the world.
“Already, we are building a legal framework to support our efforts. We now have a bill for a law to establish Kwara State Education Trust Fund. When passed, this fund will supplement the sector’s finance, promote technologies, and leapfrog the sector’s development through our Kwara Education Transformation Agenda (KWETA)
“As I round up, I recognise the hard work of our team who ensured the success of this summit. I also thank the speakers, panellists, and everyone else who is contributing to Kwara Education Futures Summit. I am confident in the future of education in our State because the best brains and hands are working on it. The prospects are limitless, and I look forward to this future.”
The summit was attended by top government officials and education stakeholders, including Deputy Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Raphael Adetiba; Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mariam Uwais; state cabinet members; Permanent Secretaries; World Bank Education Specialist, Dr Tunde Adekola; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Education Interventions, Fela Bank-Olemoh.
Others are Prof Lasiele Yahaya of the University of Ilorin; SUBEB chairman Prof. Shehu Adaramaja; TESCOM chairman Taoheed Bello; Dr. Kunmi Wuraola of Africa-New Globe Education; Nigerian Country Director of Nexford University Olamidun Majekodunmi; Michael Oglegba of Study Lab; Rector of IVTEC, Dr. Ade Somide; top educationist Elder Philip Adigun; Bola Lawal of Come Learn AM & ScholarX; traditional rulers; and several other educationists and dignitaries.