With the realization that, education is a sure means of safeguarding the future of any society, Akwa Ibom State government under the leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel has continued to plough huge investment into the sector in pursuance of the Free, Compulsory and Qualitative Education policy which has been in operation in the state since inception of the administration.

Monumental strides have been recorded in the sector as no cost is placed on education. Pupils and Students in all public primary and secondary schools in the state are enjoying free education. The scheme gives every child of school age, resident in Akwa Ibom, regardless of state of origin, access to qualitative education from primary to senior secondary school level. This obviously has lifted the burden of sourcing for school fees off the shoulders of parents/guardians in school fees of their children/wards.

The State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, is leaving no stone unturned to achieving a globally competitive workforce, in a world that is increasingly being shaped by technology. With over 1,401 public primary, secondary and technical schools, 895 private nursery, primary and secondary schools and four tertiary institutions, education policies in the state are in line with world best practices.

In addition to free tuition, the state pays a subvention of N100 per primary school pupil and N300 per secondary school student per term to cater for logistics. The number of student enrolment in public schools has tripled since the introduction of the programme. To further complement the free, compulsory and qualitative education policy which has recorded tremendous feat under the leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel, the government has set up Information Communication and Technology (ICT) laboratories in public and private schools across the state. Conducive learning environment has also been created through massive rehabilitation and reconstruction of school blocks, provision of science and laboratory equipment, construction of hostels and supply of desks across the 31 local government areas of the state.
In ensuring that no final year secondary school student is constrained by lack of money, the government places priority on payment of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) fees for all students in public secondary schools, including payment of the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) fees for all students in public technical colleges.

More so, the state government has consulted with stakeholders in public and private tertiary institutions to streamline, re-position and stabilize the school system, undertake prompt payment of teachers’ salaries, training of Principals and teachers on new educational curriculum, teaching methodologies; dialogue with Unions in the state tertiary institutions to stem labour unrest, signing of Memorandum of Understanding, (MoU) with Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) with specific mandate to promote widespread availability and usage of telecommunication and ICT services in the state in addition to promotions, conversions and confirmation for deserving teaching and non-teaching staff.

To aid monitoring and evaluation of the quality of education proffered for the actualization of the free and compulsory education scheme, the Governor appointed a Senior Special Assistant and three Special Assistants who are working tirelessly to make sure teachers give their best to reciprocate the good gesture of government in prompt payment of salaries as at when due.

With his passionate disposition towards the free, compulsory and qualitative education, Governor Emmanuel had earlier in September 2016, approved hosting of the state Education Summit which witnessed the convergence of parents, pastors, religious organizations, schools head, teachers, traditional rulers and other stakeholders to brainstorm on how to improve the quality of education and the need for parents, communities, organizations and other well-meaning citizens to be more involved in the amelioration of the sector.

A visit to most of the schools across the state saw massive renovation of dilapidated classrooms even as Government has distributed desks to students within the last two year. Also, the Governor has intervened in schools across the state where many school structures have been renovated and new structures constructed in some schools across the state.

Some of the projects executed schools across the state are: Renovation of Two (2) Staff Quarters at Salvation Army Secondary School, Efa, Etinan;
Renovation of Four (4) Classroom Blocks at Holy Trinity Primary School, Ikot Akpabio, Ibiono; Installation of Solar Borehole at Itam Secondary School, Itam; Construction of Three (3) Classroom Blocks at Community Primary School, Ikot Akpan Ike, Nsit Atai and Renovation of Assembly Hall, QIC School, Ikot Ekpot, Nsit Atai.

Others are: Renovation of Three (3) Classroom Blocks at Secondary School, Edeobom; Renovation of Assembly Hall, Government School, Ikot Eyo, Nsit Ubium; Renovation of Assembly Hall, AME Zion School, Ndon Ebom, Uruan;
Construction of Classroom Blocks with Two (2) Halls at Comprehensive Secondary School, Four Towns as well as Installation of Solar Borehole at Comprehensive Secondary School, Four Towns.

The desire of the Governor Udom-led administration is to produce a workforce that can compete globally thus, the introduction of ICT in schools across the state, as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an integral inclusion in today’s educational sector, and some schools in the state now enjoy functional computer laboratories. The Governor distributed laptop computers to schools and kitted some ICT Labs both in public and private schools. All technical schools across the state have ICT laboratories.

To further boost the education sector, Governor Emmanuel has ensured the provision of an enabling environment to motivate both the teachers and pupils/students for optimal performance and output as well as attract investors to boost the sector.

With the industrialisation-drive of the Governor, it is evident that the future of Akwa Ibom is bright and safeguarded as all Akwa Ibom sons and daughters, through the free, compulsory and qualitative education policy, would have been well equipped from the basics, to occupy key positions in the various industries dotting the landscape of the state to become great and useful members of the society.‎

By Aniekan Ekah, Umo-obong Kingsley and Edet Edet

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