• Fri. May 24th, 2024

DELTA STATE AND STANDARDS IN EDUCATION SECTOR By Utomi

Apr 29, 2024

DELTA STATE AND STANDARDS IN EDUCATION SECTOR By Jerome-Mario Utomi

Going by information emanating from Delta State House of Assembly, the House Committee on Education has commenced visits to establishments under its legislative oversight to ascertain a level of commitment to quality service delivery in line with the MORE mantra of the state government. Chairman of the Committee, Charles Emetulu, reportedly said the eighth Delta State House of Assembly expects nothing but excellent performance in the education sector, hence the need for all hands to be on deck to achieve the set goals.

While noting that the oversight duty is a constitutional responsibility of the legislature, which empowers its committees to oversight on financial appropriations made to the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the House Committee on Education resolved to ensure standards in the state’s education sector, and commended the removal of some bureaucratic bottlenecks to enable higher institutions run independently for massive infrastructural development, urging that  authorities must not only  be innovative but must create alternative means of funding and not depend solely on the government.

Definitely, the above effort by the House Committee is well understood and appreciated by this author. Also very commendable is the news report that the state government recently concluded the 2023 bursary payment with 30,116 beneficiaries of Delta state origin in higher institutions across the country.

However, despite these virtues and attributes, this piece believed and still believes that the most perfect way to democratized access by all deltans desirous of acquiring tertiary education, and the sector achieving excellent performance, should be through upward review of budgetary allocation to education in the state, this should be followed by a systematic down ward review of fees paid by students, particularly those of delta state origin.

Without doubt, it is obvious that some will argue that this is not the time to hold our state government accountable for hike in school fees because there are more important matters confronting the state, it is equally possible for others to opine that the only remedy for this problem is simply to encourage parents to accept the fate as across the world, education is neither easy nor cheap.

Indeed, while these scant and slanted reasoning may be advertised on the faces of Deltans, the truth must be told to the effect that the state leadership is bound to face confusion in their minds if they allow these current fee regimes in the state-owned tertiary institutions to stand.

Looking at the current fee regime in the state-owned tertiary institutions, it is evident in my view, that the state has defined learning too narrowly in a manner devoid of process and outcome fairness by getting preoccupied with revenue generation without consideration to the students’ comfort or wellbeing.

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From the shocking phenomenon of declining standards of physical infrastructures and the near-total collapse of basic facilities that ought to be functional in a tertiary institution, to thoughtless demand for fees of varying amounts proposed by the school authorities ahead of logic-a development that is financially squeezing life out of innocent students and their parents, it evident that this is not the best way to achieving excellence in education sector.

At this point, this piece will cast a glance at scary consequences of the current school fees if allowed to continue.

Fundamentally, there are a large number of youths in the state that are knowledge/education hungry and daily project vividly and openly their potential, nature, character, behavior, performance skills and talent that needs to be nurtured in a conducive environment and fairest fees. As we know, any developmental plan in the state without youth education delivered in a well-structured learning environment and fair fees will amount to mere waste of time and effort.

The second concern is that with the current fees paid in the state, Deltans and the world at large are bound to feel, and validate as true that education in the state is in shambles simply because of government’s progressive non recognition of the right to education as a human right despite Nigeria’s membership of a number of international conventions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights where the right is respected.  Like his predecessor, it also exemplifies the fact that Governor Sheriff Oborevwori led administration has not adopted a different, practical, factual, base level and off beat approach to this highly important and sensitive sector.

This piece is not alone in this belief system.

Recently, a well-respected community Newspaper in the state, in its editorial comments described/considered as thoughtless and a decision reached in bad light, the upward review of students’ school fees by the management/authority of tertiary institutions in the state.

While the News organization called on the school managements to halt the recent fee hike, particularly as their argument that the increment was necessitated by the need to sustain qualitative education and conducive environment for learning in line with global best standard, can no longer hold water when faced with embarrassing fact, it essentially urged the Delta state Government to immediately call on the Governing boards of these institution to rescind this decision/thoughtless hike in school fees.

Likewise, this piece underlines that if providing quality education is the interest of the state government, the state should make effort to increase state budgetary allocation to education and not by taxing the students or their parents of which majority of them are either without jobs or are retirees whose pensions are not promptly paid. Governor Sheriff Oboreivwori led administration must also not forget that education is the right of our children and the bedrock of development.

It is also believed that ‘with sound educational institutions, society is as good as made -as the institutions will turn out all rounded manpower to continue with the development of the society driven by well thought out ideas, policies, programmes, and projects. The state Governor urgently needs to find a new approach to demonstrate that he truly loves education via reduction in fees of these students. Taking such action will in the opinion of this piece offer him an edge over others in the leadership corridor.

Most importantly, even though previous opinion articles, commentaries and interventions by this author favored/supported policies and decisions of the Delta state Government, it will be considered very logical, rational and practical to say that the same state government will definitely feel hesitant as to why they should read this present piece. Or accept the content of the solution it proffers as beneficial and helpful to the real development in the state education sector.

The reason for this assertion is obvious.

In Nigeria, once a direction is chosen by an average Nigerian leader, instead of examining the process meticulously and set the right course, many obstinately persist with the execution of such plans regardless of a minor or major shift in circumstance. But the level of opposition notwithstanding, this piece stoutly opposes the state government’s inconsiderate decision, and describes as improper, hikes in students’ fees in virtually all the state-owned institutions of higher learning.

Until there is a downward review of school fees in the state, not even the bursary can save or serve the students and their parents.

 

 

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