Education for all is a global development agenda, which must be sustained. It is the right of every child to go to school, receive quality education and imbibe values of global citizenship. Stakeholders in the education sector have been bothered about the unfortunate pool of gifted but wasted children, because of the increasing deprivation they suffer to quality basic education, in Nigeria.
Ironically, before the emergence of the present administration in Oyo State, such spike of the number of out-of-school children was applicable to the state. An unfortunate decline some leaders in the pacesetter state were never ashamed of. The UBE programme, an interventionist initiative of the Federal Government to assist the states overcome basic school funding challenges, has been sabotaged in times past.
Before 2019, public primary schools were in decadent conditions with rusted, half-torn zincs, caved-in ceilings, classrooms without doors and windows. In fact, pupils of public schools sat on bare floor to learn. This unfortunate fate that befell pupils of our primary schools exuded stench of absurdities in a computer age.
Children within the basic education age roamed streets without any concerns from the authorities about their educational status; their future was certainly not assured. The past administrations in Oyo State ignored this social time-bomb with its multi-faceted consequences– kidnapping and robbery for livelihood, increased adult illiterate population, among others.
On emergence as the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde swung into action. The Governor created a welcoming ambience for parent who has withdrawn their pupils; an immediate suspension of levies in schools across the state was a soothen balm in their pained toes.
Makinde proved differently how to place premium on the future of the younger generation. He jacked up budgetary provisions for the education sector; one, which experts say has surpassed UNESCO’s recommendation.
To crown it up, he appointed an expert in Adult Education and former Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Nureni Aderemi Adeniran to paddle the canoe of the basic education sector of the state.
As a passionate educationist, Adeniran has ensured the Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board he supervises, creates a right environment for the pupils so that proper learning will take place. He has assiduously worked to eradicate the backdrop of UNESCO’s classification of Nigeria, as a country where teaching takes place, without learning with proper monitoring of learning processes in schools on regular basis.
Adeniran’s team is vehemently tackling the out-of-school children menace in the state, with the aid of the Better Education Service Delivery for All programme (BESDA), which targets ridding the streets of these children. The BESDA team led by the enigma, are quite aware that basic school is the foundation for quality education – the superstructure every society needs for its development and survival.
With this initiative, the number of out-of-school children has reduced in its millions in Oyo State. Though, the State Government still has much to do, to rid the state of out-of-school children, the BESDA initiative has been responsible for additional enrolment of children in public schools.
The Board is working closely with important stakeholders to reduce the number of out-of-school children. Under the initiative of BESDA, the Federal Government secured a World Bank credit facility of 611 million dollars to support 17 states in strengthening the Universal Basic Education. The facility also addresses the first pillar of the Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP) on out-of-school children.
Under Dr. Nureni Adeniran’s supervision, Oyo State has never toyed with the utilisation of funds meant for the sector. Building of model schools, renovation of classrooms, sinking boreholes, and other projects have not stopped since the inception of this administration. The State Government has taken education to the rural areas, by building few model basic schools to attract the new ones and giving them equal opportunities to education.
Unlike previous administrations in the state, Makinde’s Government has never failed to meet the due process requirements for accessing the Universal Basic Education Commission intervention funds by providing counterpart funds. These funds have been useful for rehabilitating basic schools.
Under the intervention project, each state is meant to provide counterpart funding and adhere to a template formulated for its judicious use. While many states keep defaulting, the pacesetter state has always been forthcoming.
The basic education, under this dispensation has enjoyed greater attention than in the past. The Board ensures immediate inclusion of dilapidated schools in the next intervention project. Oyo State is gradually steering clear of the list of states with dilapidated schools or unsafe school environment.
Before now, some governors who collected UBEC allocations either diverted or embezzled them. One of such case involved a governor who left office in 2007 in the North. But, according to reports, ‘political expediency’, which has suddenly over-ridden public interest and cause of justice, has compelled an anti-graft agency handling the trial to get cold feet.
No doubt, Adeniran is a professional in politics, whose indelible contributions to nation building cannot be quantified. He has yielded to his passion of building and molding the future generation, by his hard-work at the sector he mans.
Olamide Adeniji writes from Ibadan