From: Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has declared that unless old students and alumni associations are effectively harnessed, restoring the glory of Nigeria’s education sector will continue to be a mirage.
The governor, equally expressed regret that, despite series of national conferences and summits on education as well as trust funds instituted in some states of the federation, the country has failed to address the challenges bedeviling education in Nigeria.
Amosun spoke on Friday at the maiden Convocation of Assembly of Old Students/Alumni Associations of Western Nigeria held in Abeokuta, where the Ogun State Head of Service, Abayomi Sobande, called for concerted efforts to change the dwindling fortunes of primary and secondary schools.
The event with the theme: “Schools of the future now,” was organised by a non-governmental organisation, Educational Initiative for Development in Western Nigeria (EIfDW).
The governor, represented by the state Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mrs. Modupe Mujota, described alumni associations as unifying platform to revamp education sector.
He recalled that the late sage and first Premier of old Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, gave a benchmark for the attainment of affordable and quality education with his universal free education policy.
Amosun, however, lamented that successive administrations in the South West states have not lived up to the policy due to different reasons.
He noted that the task confronting the country was enormous but argued that there is a game-changing initiative waiting for stakeholders to adopt.
His words: “We have had series of national conferences and summits on education; trust funds have not only been contemplated but instituted in some states; and more federal input has been courted.
“But I am convinced the surest waybto restore the glory and pre-eminence of our education sector is to effectively harness the massive size and passion of our Old Boys and Girls Associations. A true alumnus is always a proud ambassador of his alma mater and shoulder the responsibility of promoting and advancing the cause of his old school.
“For us in Ogun State, we remain attached to our history of education, and we continue to build on those glorious days of high quality education that will guarantee skilled and efficient manpower, a decent job and dignity of life.”
Also speaking, the Managing Trustee of EIfDW, Mr Adebowale Thompson, said research has shown that education in Nigeria is fast falling below world standards.
He explained that the organization had adopted the strategy to mobilise the rich and poor, alumni of institutions, trade groups, community development associations as well as market women and men across the South West to “do something” in alma mater and schools in their communities.
“Institutions that were established many years ago are fast becoming shadows of their past glories. This is simply because the political class with best intentions pledged to carry out free education at all levels to the citizenry but have very little funds to support the programme.
“The citizens themselves have not been fully mobilized and shown that they themselves can contribute to lift up the falling standards by contributing towards the development of education,” Thompson submitted.