Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has given two weeks ultimatum to the State Ministry of Education to facilitate official inauguration of the three modular buildings in Secondary School Etoi, Uyo, provided by Akwa Ibom State Government to help in decongesting of students in some of the classrooms.
The House gave the deadline through its Committee on Education yesterday, when the Committee led by the Chairman, Hon. Godwin Ekpo in Company of Hon. Commissioner for Education, Prof. Nse Essien, and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education, Mrs. Helen Ante visited the School for an on the spot assessment of functionality of the School.
Hon. Ekpo while addressing the Principal, teaching/non academic staff and students of the school informed that the Committee is empowered by the Standing Orders of the House to oversight over relevant Ministry(ies) and other related agencies, boards and parastatals.
He also mandated the Commissioner to ensure that perimeter fencing is carried out for the School before the end of next quarter in the year.
The Chairman of the Committee however lauded the State Government for strengthening the free and compulsory education policy in the State, a feat he said has culminated in the daily influx of students and pupils in the State public schools.
The Ibiono Ibom Lawmaker also commended the Principal, teachers, non academic staff and entire management of Secondary School Etoi for bracing up to the task of controlling the population of 7,000 students in the school.
To the students, the Assemblyman urged them to shun cultism, avert cutting corners, and remain studious in order to achieve academic excellence for a better future.
Also speaking at the School, the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Nse Essien expressed satisfaction with the level of law and order maintained in the school by students and charged them to sustained the ongoing peaceful atmosphere, assuring that Government on it’s part shall do all it takes to restore absolute peace and orderliness in educational sector of the State.
Earlier on, the Principal of the School, Dr. Offiong Okon while receiving the Committee and other team members into the school disclosed that the school is a co-educational institution with the total number of 169 academic and non academic staff including corp members and N- Power staff with a population of approximately 7,000 students.
Dr. Okon intimated the team that the school draws its students from the 27 villages that make up Etoi Clan and also from the two neighbouring local Government Areas of Uruan and Ibesikpo Asutan.
He itemized major challenges facing the daily operations of the school to include; lack of perimeter fence, inadequate classroom blocks, inauguration of the modular buildings, lack of electricity, no water supply, toilet, and the need for equipping of its science laboratory.
The principal seized the opportunity and called on members of the committee to use their good offices to ensure needed facilities are supplied to the school for effective running, adding that an improved educational packaged when hands over to students shall not only improve humanity but will add value to the society.
At the State Ministry of Education
The Committee in the early hours of yesterday first visited the State Ministry of Education at Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat where the State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Nse Essien received the delegation to the Ministry.
Addressing members of the Committee at the Conference Room of the Ministry, Prof. Essien said the Ministry was established with the mission of effectively articulating, formulating and coordinating the implementation of educational policies and programmes through sustained monitoring and evaluation to deliver accessible, affordable, and qualitative services for the overall interest and benefit of citizenry.
The Commissioner further disclosed that the Ministry is vested with the statutory functions of planning, researching and development of education, providing inspectorate services for monitoring and improving standards, policy and control over primary, secondary and tertiary institutions owned by the State in accordance with the requirements national policy on education among other things.
He also said it is also under the purview of the Ministry to supervise the activity of (6) educational management boards and parastatals in the State, which are; State Secondary Schools Board (SSEB), State Universal Basic Education Board(SUBEB), Agency for Adult and Non Formal Education (ANFE), State Technical Schools Board (STSB), Akwa Ibom State Scholarship Board (AKSSB), Library Board and Teacher’s Register Council with ten (10) zonal offices distributed across the State.
Prof. Essien also enumerated giant strides of the Ministry and assured doubling up efforts in fighting against any misconduct perpetrated by students or teachers billed to dent the educational sector of the State.
Shortly after the presentation by the Education Commissioner, the Chairman of House Committee on Education, Hon. Godwin Ekpo hinted that the committee was at the Ministry for an interactive session with the Commissioner and other management staff to ascertain the state of education in the State both in structures and in contents.
He frowned at the dilapidated nature and emptiness of school libraries across the State and queried why some private schools that have been earmarked as illegal are still operational in the State?
Among some of the concerns raised by the chairman of the committee were; the way forward for Technical College, Ewet Offot that was recently shut down by the State Government, the level of effectiveness in supervising the activities of State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), the State of Union Girls School in Ibiono Ibom among other issues.
Rt. Hon. Usoro Akpanusoh – Esit Eket/Ibeno State Constituency
Akpanusoh, a member of the Committee observed that the Ministry is practicing a poor supervisory role over schools and questioned the yardstick behind sudden aloof attitude towards school monitoring.
He expressed displeasure with the slacking nature of the Ministry who has not in recent times come up with programmes and activities gearing towards promoting the free and Compulsory Education policy in the State and opined thinking and acting in this direction for achievements of a qualitative educational delivery for students and pupils alike.
The Esit Eket/Ibeno Lawmaker reasoned that irrespective of SUBEB taking the lead in constructing, renovating, and building of structures in schools across the State, pupils in some schools still sit on bare floor to learn and called for training and re-training of teachers for effective impartation on pupils and students.
Hon. Victor Ekwere – Mkpat Enin State Constituency
Hon. Ekwere, another member of the committee recalled that the last time the committee embarked on inspections of school, lots of schools laboratories were found dilapidated and lying moribund, he called for revitalization of School laboratories across the State for Akwa Ibom children to compete favourably in science related subjects with their contemporaries in other climes.
Hon. Dr. Charity Ido (Mrs.) – Ukanafun State Constituency
Dr. Ido made a case for Technical College Abak which according to her has no single laboratory. She opined effective school monitoring to ensure curriculum compliance by schools as well as the need for resuscitating school libraries across the State.
She reasoned that an effective library shall activate good reading culture amongst pupils and students.
Also, she maintained that N-Power staff have little or no basics in teaching, s such, teachers should leave up to their expectations irrespective of N-Teach programme of the Federal Government.
Hon. (Barr.) Otobong Bob – Nsit Ubium State Constituency
Barr. Bob suggested the provision of ICT equipments in the State public schools, reasoning that the State cannot send out 21st century pupils and students through the doors of 19th century.
He also communicated the need for award of scholarships to deserving students and those whose parents are financially incapacitated for total growth and development of Akwa Ibom educational sector.
Hon. KufreAbasi Edidem – Itu State Constituency
The Itu lawmaker commended the State Commissioner for Education on the footprint he left at Ministry of Science and Technology and solicited for even distribution of SUBEB projects across the entire Senatorial Districts of the State for equity and fairness.
He alos called for recruiting of new teachers to match with the daily influx of students, especially in the urban areas where some schools are over populated with limited teachers.
Commissioner’s Response – Prof. Nse Essien
The Commissioner while filing answers from question raised by members of the Committee, disclosed that the Ministry is committed in closing down illegal private schools operating in the State and dangers of sending Wards to such schools shall soon be made known to parents through jingles.
……we are going to prosecute defaulters who re-opens schools after being shut down
Prof. Essien assured that according to Education laws that prohibit operating an illegal school that lacks conformity with the educational standards of the place which spells prison terms/fine or application of both, the Ministry shall not hesitate penalizing defaulting proprietors if found culpable, accordingly.
He also disclosed that the Ministry has also forbidden Government approved schools from accepting and registering pupils/ students for common entrance examinations, Jss3 and WAEC and NECO examinations from illegal private schools. With the latest development, the Commissioner asserts that the issue if illegal schools in the State shall soon become a thing of the past.
….suspected 34 students who were engaged in the rampage staged by Technical College, Ewet Offot have been suspended indefinitely
Prof. Essien unravelled that the Ministry has indefinitely suspended 34 suspected students of the above named school who were recently involved in street fight that culminated in disturbing the peace and safety of its environs.