Nigeria’s neglect of education and Anambra’s educational champions

Nobody can convincingly controvert the fact that education is the bedrock of national development. Countries with functional educational systems invariably have reputable good universities that offer students qualitative education and equip them with skills. They are research-oriented schools. And they produce knowledgeable graduates, who can contribute their quotas to the technological, scientific, and economic development of their countries. It is the humans, who can mobilise and galvanise other factors of production and drive developmental initiatives in their countries.

That is the chief reason why USA, Britain, France, Germany, Israel, and Canada have achieved technological advancement and economic prosperity. And many centuries ago, during the pre-colonial era, the empire of Mali reached the zenith of its power, flourished, and proposed because of the existence of the Timbuktu University, there.

Sadly, in Nigeria, since the inception of the second republic, the quality of education obtainable in Nigerian schools, ranging from the kindergarten to the tertiary level, has been decreasing, steadily. The pitiable condition of our schools as well as our dysfunctional educational system is majorly caused by the government’s utter and criminal neglect of educational issues in the country. Does our country’s annual budget reflect UNESCO’s Stipulations on member countries’ budgetary allocation for education? The stark fact is that matters affecting our education are being treated in a cavalier manner.

Our government’s neglect of the education sector is graphically depicted by most public schools’ dilapidated buildings, with the roofs blown off and the walls falling down. In some primary and post-primary schools in the north, the classrooms are bare of pieces of furniture; consequently, the pupils and students do sit on bare floor to learn. To make matters worse, the teachers moonlight to augment their meagre monthly salaries.

So, not being unaware of our niggling educational problems, and teachers’ lack of enthusiasm for their teaching job, Peter Obi unveiled his educational roadmap, and religiously implemented it, which saw to the revamping and re-positioning of our schools, starting from the kindergarten level to the tertiary level. Not only did he donate classroom blocks to schools, he also bought buses for them, and equipped their science laboratories with tools and pieces of equipment. His successor in office, Willie Obiano, has continued to sustain and maintain the high tempo of improvement in the Anambra state’s educational sector.

Their efforts at revamping and re-positioning the Anambra state educational system have been yielding positive results. Anambra state has been posting stellar and splendid performances in such examinations as NECO, SSCE, NABTEB, and UTME. Not long ago, students of Regina Pacis Secondary School, Onitsha, Anambra state, took other students from other countries to the cleaners in the Technova science competition in Silicon Valley, America. Till now, students from secondary schools in the state have continued to hold their own in global educational competitions.

But Anambra state is the home state of globally recognized scholars, scientists, novelists, and great writers. Have you forgotten that the inimitable novelist, Chinua Achebe, hailed from Anambra state? Likewise, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose literary feats are reaching stratospheric heights, is from Abba, Anambra state. Again, Chike Obi, a great mathematician of global repute; Kenneth Dike, a world class historian; and Chuba Okadigbo, a scholar par excellence hailed from Anambra state.

It appears that almost every native of Anambra state is blessed with immense mental gifts and endowed with the Anambra state’s spirit of enterprise, hard work, and sanguine disposition. That could be the reason behind Rose Nkem Obi’s emergence as the winner of the Nigeria’s Maltina Teacher of the Year Award at its maiden edition in 2015. And, in 2017, Clement Nwoye Okodo won the 2017 Federal Ministry of Education Teachers’ and School Award for primary schools in the country. Both Rose Nkem Obi and Clement Okodo are indigenes of Anambra state.

More so, in the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), two candidates, who are natives of Anambra state, namely Agnes Egoagwuagwu Maduafokwa and David Okwuchukwu Nwobi, took the first and second positions, respectively. Agnes Maduafokwa, who scored 365 marks, wants to study Production Engineering at the University of Ibadan while David Nwobi, who scored 363 marks, would like to study Mechanical Engineering at the Kwara State University; based on the information contained in the UTME form he filled.

It is noteworthy that Miss Agnes Maduafokwa, who is an indigene of Ihiala, Anambra state, is related to the late Nkem Nwankwo’s family of Nawfia, Anambra state, owing to her maternal ancestry. Nkem Nwankwo was a revered literary scholar and novelist in his lifetime. Coincidentally, David Nwobi, the second-best candidate in the 2020 UTME, is an indigene of Nawfia. Expectedly, it is a glorious moment for the people of Nawfia and Ihiala towns in Anambra state. And they’re basking in the reflected glory of their prodigious children, who are academic champions.

These children, who are geniuses based on any mental and academic assessments, have great fascination for physics and mathematics, which informed and influenced their choices of course in the University. Both want to study different types of engineering courses. Nigeria, as a country, needs engineers to give impetus to its drive and quest to achieve rapid industrialisation of the country. So, I call on the government and wealthy individuals to accord honour and scholarships to the top performers in this year’s UTME in order to boost their morale and spur them to strive to attain greater heights in the academics.

And I urge Gov. Willie Obiano to continue implementing his pragmatic educational policies, which have positively transformed our school system. Now, our Anambra state students can compete favourably with their peers from other countries in global educational competitions.

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