By Ofonime Honesty

A recent official assignment took me to four public primary schools in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.
The schools are: Government Primary School, Ikot Ebo; Government Primary School, Anan; Government Primary School, Nung Asang; and Sweden Burge Memorial Primary School, Ikot Ofoon.

Uyo LGA is the capital of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria’s oil-rich State.

Dilapidated structures and inadequate teaching personnel headlined my visit to these schools.
I took time to advise the teaching staff against risking their lives and that of the pupils by occupying those unsafe structures. The young and innocent pupils are victims of years of government’s insincerity and corruption.

The lack of willingness to upgrade the education sector is reflected in the annual budget of the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration since 2015. While humongous billion funds are channeled into fictitious projects and maintenance of an official jet that has since become a liability, education is given paltry attention and money.

Education is a liberator of minds.
It makes an entity become productive and progressive. An abandoned education sector is therefore an instrument of warfare devised consciously by leaders to conquer our minds.

The treatment of teachers and retired teachers speaks volumes. No promotion, no leave grants, no gratuities, nothing.
I write as someone who has a parent who is a retiree.
At one of the schools visited, the head teacher (name withheld), narrated how she has been using personal funds to pay two graduate teachers from the community, since teachers are not posted to the school by government. Such an act of human kindness!

The cluelessness of the education ministry is best exemplified by the Education Commissioner’s order that the Dakkada Creed or whatever it is called be recited by the pupils on daily basis. I’m told a taskforce was set up to ensure compliance. Damn!
At the schools visited, the Dakkada Creed is boldly written on a space beside the dilapidated chalk boards. The creed is a stark contrast to the learning conditions in the schools.

Most public schools in my state should be considered as abandoned historical ruins, not institutions of learning.
As a product of the public school system, I can attest to the fact that things were not as a bad as they are now.

Neglecting the sector is tantamount to waging a war against our children.
We should not incapacitate their future via greed and sheer wickedness.

LAST LINE: I humbly appeal to my governor to concentrate on revamping the ailing public education system. Paying unscheduled visits to these schools is one of the ways of boosting staff morale and an avenue to listen to their concerns.

My governor should descend from the high horse and have a tête-a-tête with the governed.

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