AMAZING GRACE SERIES 13
Sectoral GOALs in Glimpse (Education)
By Ubong S.
Every government goes into power with a minus…so because it would have to make policies, take decisions and actions that will likely open up rooms for criticisms. As natural as this appears, the level of minus a government goes to power with, however, depends on how much it was prepared for the task of governance before taking up same.
Good leadership does not happen by accident. There must be a trace of preparation somewhere which the leader had consciously and unconsciously been through, in line with the demands of the times their reign is to last. These preparatory experiences help the leader set and achieve those desired goals, and with ease.
For a young law undergraduate who had felt hurrying into wealth at the expense of students he was elected to lead and serve, was not a right path to thread, that may have been an unconscious preparatory leadership test, especially considering that the ordinary eyes could not have pictured him in any future in leadership. That masterclass trial, today, stands as why this (now grown) man habitually and characteristically finds himself always on the side of the people, even in a present position of supposed comfort.
While I can bet that he had no pre-idea about what eventually came to confront him then as a student union leader and may not have been prepared for it, this man within the period I have known him, has always taken the business of preparation very seriously, especially where and when there is a public office in sight. Deeply soaked in the stress of campaigns to win elections, yet, never forgets to prepare himself for the office he seeks. His reason? He would rather lose the chance to serve than get to disappoint the expectations of the electorates when given one. Hence, while the admiring public might, today, be seeing a man who is delivering in his national assembly mandate, this writer is rather seeing one who may not have been able to deliver as good as he is doing, if he did not make some of the preparations the writer knows him to have made, even in the heat of campaigning to win the mandate.
As he— Onofiok Luke is being seen today, just like the rest of his co-contenders, consulting and making convincing statements to serve the state as governor from 2023, the concern of this writer is more on how much he, as usual, is preparing for the office ahead. And this piece seeks to analyse his GOALs in the light of the education sector.
First, the GOAL Project, having served under and/or understudied previous administrations in the state, is well equipped with a clear picture of every plan each of them had for the sector, as well as the ones they were able and not able to achieve. And as much as its creative mind and ability to conceive fresh ideas are very active, the Project understands that being a continuum, consolidation remains a more effective approach to achieving sustainable goals in governance.
The GOAL Project is aware of efforts by past and present administrations in keeping the 1401 public primary, technical and secondary schools in the state afloat in the right academic standard required to equip every Akwa Ibom child passing through them with the right foundational knowledge to compete with contemporaries from the over 895 privately owned ones and even others outside the state, when advancing into respective professional fields. At the point of assuming office, the Project would have understood the level to which the present administration has been able to progress the efforts, as well as how best to take off in progressing it further.
Also, recent research by the GOAL Project has shown that the enrollment of Akwa Ibom children in public schools has tripled to a million and a half, since the introduction of the free and compulsory education by the immediate past administration. This has created extra funding burden for government and with this knowledge, the Project is already aware of the possibility of more increase. Hence, the future of this initiative cannot be seen at risk under the GOAL administration because it would have already been prepared for the challenge, and cannot be overwhelmed by such burden to the point of discontinuing the programme.
Also, one of the notable achievements of the present administration is the setting up of ICT laboratories in public secondary schools. This is more commendable when considering the rapidity of the speed at which technology is revolving and driving the world. GOAL understands that the need to have our children earlier exposed to technology cannot be overstressed. This informs the Project’s plan to consolidate on this and ensure this early exposure spreads to schools in the deepest of interiors in the state, so as to bridge the knowledge and exposure gap between Akwa Ibom students in the urban and rural settings.
The GOAL Project also notes in commendation, efforts of the present administration in encouraging the teachers of these children through at least, prompt payment of salaries. Having in past and recent times, expressed that his passion and sentiments for teachers are rooted in the fact that he was conceived, birthed and raised by one, Onofiok Luke has over the years been caught in advocacies for improved welfare for teachers through better packages and incentives to boost their passion in the business of imparting knowledge. This apparently informs why intermittent training programmes for teachers to upgrade and update their skills will top the list of the Project’s GOALs for the sector.
Also driven by this sentiment, GOAL had, on a few occasions, suggested that the state’s institution for training teachers— Akwa Ibom State College of Education, should be affiliated to conventional degree awarding institutions such as the state owned university, AKSU, for trained teachers to be awarded with degrees upon graduation, rather than the outdating NCE. This is so to tackle the discrimination the college graduates face when having to contend with education graduates from universities for job roles.
Again, the education sector in the state seems to have been running in some kind of consolidation since the advent of democracy in 1999. First, it was Obong Victor Attah despising the way Akwa Ibom children were being sent out to offer maid services. Well, whatever were his solution plans may have been challenged by the lean resources. He had shoved them aside and by the time he was done fighting the resource battles, his time was up. Good enough, the next man, miraculously, bought into same vision. With resources available, he initiated and effected the free education and as well, made same compulsory, so as to leave parents with no excuses to prefer their wards as maids, rather than in school. The present administration, here and so far run, has done its part in consolidating, spitting the economic challenges that accompanied him into office. Noting this strong consolidation, the 2023 Project is emerging with GOALs to advance this course. GOAL is of the belief that to make the products of this free and compulsory education initiative competent contenders in the wider world, moreso a rapidly changing one influenced by technological innovations, they should be encouraged and funded to undertake target studies in their pursuit for tertiary education.
Take this for instance. While the state has been hoping and praying for the full actualisation of the deep seaport, GOAL had long been drumming on the need to have Akwa Ibom indigenes not relegated to the background of opportunities the seaport is expected to present. The drummings, for example, have been, among other suggestions, asking Akwa Ibom law graduates and undergraduates to seek specialty in maritime law. This writer understands the goldmine lawyers, notably in Lagos state, have made and still making out of this, and he hopes the reader does too.
Ending, while the GOAL Project is still observing for its adjudged right time to step forth and lead Akwa Ibomites into more details of its preparatory plans for the leadership phase ahead, the people can, by this piece, have a glimpse of it, and also the freedom to feel satisfied that there is at least one among the contenders, preparing to assume power with a lesser minus.
Ubong Sampson (08021419939) writes from Atabarikang, in Akwa Ibom state.