By Job Osazuwa
The President-General of Government College Ughelli Old Boys’ Association, Prof. Oritsegbemi Omatete, has blamed falling standard of education in Nigeria on indiscipline among students, poor attitude to studies and under-qualified teachers.
In the same vein, he blamed low standard and poor performance of students across the country, in public exams, in recent years, on the neglect of the education sector by successive governments.
Warning that the country couldn’t afford to toy with the future of her children, he stressed the need to make priority the provision of a conducive environment for human habitation and learning.
He expressed regret over how the once highly respected Government College,Ughelli, Delta State, had degenerated over the years. According to him, the school was indisputably known for academic excellence, adding that the unhealthy development was not peculiar to his alma mater, but a common phenomenon across most schools in Nigeria.
He made this known recently in Lagos while briefing journalists on the association’s forthcoming 2016 national annual dinner slated for October 8, 2016 at the Hotel Presidential, GRA, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
Taking a trip down memory lane, Omatete who finished from the college in 1960, said his school was not only known for academic performance, but also thrived in sports.
“The system we operated then was based on a healthy mind in a healthy body. So, we married sports with academics, and we were excellent in both. The year I graduated, my school was the national champion in football competition,” he said.
While commending students who graduated from the college for doing exploits in different fields across the globe, he urged the younger generation to realise that the excellent tutoring they received enabled them to rise to such enviable heights.
The president-general of the association’s branches worldwide, while recalling the days of yore in the school, said discipline, rules and regulations were sacrosanct irrespective of students’ family background. According to him, students only secured admission into schools strictly on merit, which was after rigorous examinations, including screenings for acceptable character.
He said: “When any student misbehaved then, he was given appropriate punishment such as detention. No student or parent had the audacity to challenge the principal’s decision with regard to discipline. Everybody was disciplined on equal yardstick.”
He disclosed that the rotational dinner was held to raise funds to enable the association carry out developmental projects in the college, stating that a lot had been done having expended over N200 million in the last decade. However, he believed more needed to be done as members couldn’t afford to rest on their oars. He also revealed that the association was partnering the government to redress the unacceptable situation and to return the school to its old glory.
He posited that the minimum educational qualification to teach in secondary schools should be master’s degree, citing Finland as a success story. “Finland employed 10 per cent of her best brains for teaching,” he informed. “The country is number one in the world in educational system, unlike here where you have teachers that are selling all sorts of wares in school and teaching at the same time. During the colonial era, the white teachers gave us sound education and it was passed on to Nigerians who took interest in teaching. But today, the story has changed for the worst.”
At the dinner in Port-Harcourt, it was gathered that iconic alumni would be conferred with Lifetime Achievement Awards, some of them posthumously. Those to be honoured include Justice Duke Njiribeako – pioneer class of 1945, Mr. Steve Agodo, No. 1 registered student and former Federal Permanent Secretary; Chief Felix Iwerebon, former Chairman of Longman and doyen of book publishing in Nigeria; Mr. Godwin Adokpaye, first Nigerian Managing Director of Mobil Oil and Prof. Itse Sagay, Chairman, Anti-Corruption Committee.