On assumption of office in 2019, Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, came with a document entitled “Oyo State Roadmap for Accelerated Development : 2019-2023”. He said his administration would prioritise four pillars of governance upon which the map is built – Economy (through agribusiness), Education, Healthcare and Security.
In education, the governor promised to increase access to quality education at primary and secondary levels, raise the education budget of the state to meet UNESCO recommended standards, encourage private sector to provide quality and affordable education, improve the state’s performance in external examinations-West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO)-among others.
As an aspirant in 2018, Makinde criticised the performance of Oyo State candidates in Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), promising to turn the “downward trend in the educational sector around,” if elected.
While commenting on his administration’s achievements in education in December 2021, Makinde, who was elected in 2019, said his government has made the sector a priority as it has taken the highest share of the budget for the third consecutive year.
“This sector was allocated the sum of N54.1 billion, amounting to 18.37 per cent in the year 2022 budget.
“The allocation of 21 per cent in the year 2021 budget has yielded result moving Oyo State from 26th position to 11th position in West African Examination Council’s result. We believe that better results will come forth in the future as long as we do not relent on our efforts,” the governor had said.
However, Oyo State was rated as one of the five poorest states in SSCE in 2021, taking 33rd position among the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to an analysis of states in Nigeria with best WAEC results in 2021, conducted by WAEC and National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Oyo State placed 33rd with 54.8% under Makinde’s watch. It is important to note that the analysis was conducted on candidates with five credits including Mathematics and English Language in public schools.
The report on the performance of Oyo State in the external examination has elicited reactions from stakeholders in the education sector and among members of the public.
The question on the lips of stakeholders and many people is how did the state which the governor claimed to have placed 11th suddenly dropped to 33rd.
Many believed that inadequate funding, decayed infrastructure, corruption and lack of innovative ideas were responsible for the stagnation in the state’s education sector.
Reacting to the development, a non-political group, Greater Oyo State (GOSG), said It is worrisome for Oyo State to perform poorly in the 2021 WAEC examinations, falling behind states like Yobe, Borno and Adamawa, which are considered to be among the nation’s educationally disadvantaged states.
The group in a statement by its convener, Comrade Funso Ogundimu, said it appears that the state government is only paying lip service to education development without actually doing anything other than touting achievements that are not visible.
Also, a stakeholder in the education sector who spoke to Newspeakonline on condition of anonymity, said: “Ordinarily, one would have felt that the increase in budgetary allocation to the UNESCO standard of 21% would have solved the problems in the state’s education sector.
“The 33rd position simply came as a direct discredit to the governor’s claim of finance- related responses rather than scrutinising how the budgetary allocations are spent.”
Recall that a whistleblower had recently revealed that some contracts allegedly awarded to produce exercise books for students in Oyo State were inflated to the tune of over N900 million. According to the report, the production cost of one exercise book amounted to N2,100.
As if that was not enough, another exercise book contract was awarded to the same contractor to the tune of over N600 million.
But Makinde denied the allegations, and promised to “resign as the governor of the state if it’s found that the contract amount was inflated.”
But many believed the current administration has not done anything in the education sector going by the report, noting that the governor’s assertions on his administration’s successes in the sector may not be true.
Speaking, a private school owner in the state, said it appears the free education policy of the Makinde administration is not working.
“There are very many public primary and secondary schools in Oyo State who have short supply of chairs and desks, dilapidated infrastructural facilities, including classrooms without windows and leaking roofs, which have affected the learning ability of the students.
“Inconsistent payment of running grants to school principals is also one of key causes of the dismal academic performance of public school students in the state,” the school owner said.
There were reports that in the recently completed joint promotion examinations, only a few question papers were printed and made available to students. It is said that this may be a pointer to the fact that the education sector may not have recorded the successes the governor has been talking about in the last three and a half years.
There is a consensus among stakeholders and the general public that the woeful performance of Oyo State in the 2021 WAEC examinations is a clear indication that there may be nothing to show for the huge amount of money the state claims to have spent as budgetary allocations on the education sector in the last three and half years.