As the two-day Education Summit which kicked off on Thursday rolls to an end, education stakeholders gathering in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital have dusted their academic books and stormed internet to proffer solutions to the ailing educational system bedeviling the country and the state at large.
For 2018, West African Examinations Council, WAEC, released a damning report that the state occupied 17th position in the country.
Not done, National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, rolled out another whimper that Akwa Ibom was leading in the unemployment profile in 2019 in the country.
Deeply concerned by the unemployment rate staring many Akwa Ibom including Nigerians in the face, Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom State Governor has made a case for entrepreneurial development among the products as a way of adding value the country’s educational system and turning out self-reliant and productive students in the society.
This position was canvassed by Governor Emmanuel, while declaring open the 1st Akwa Ibom State Education Summit and Exhibitions anchored on the theme “Human Capacity Development for Sustainable Transformation of Persons And Society” held at Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio Hall, Udo Udoma Avenue, Uyo.
Emmanuel expressed optimism that the summit would make way for enduring educational structure that will develop entrepreneurial skills in the students to enable them fit into the society as employers rather than job seekers.
He said: “I am one person who advocates that ever single course in Akwa Ibom State University should have entrepreneurial training because there is nobody who is a graduate who cannot be an employer of labour. Every single faculty should have entrepreneurial training, so that we can train people who can add value to the society, not people with certificates and not certified”
The governor said that modalities have been put in place for the refurbishment of Technical School Ikot Ada idem to facilitate the take off of the pilot scheme for the training of youths on vocations, adding that the Technical School Ikot Akata will also be restructured as Skill acquisition centre with the support of ExxonMobil.
Emmanuel said that his administration has accorded education priority through the implementation free and compulsory education policy which adds up to the regular provision of grants to schools, renovation of structures in educational institutions, renumeration of personnel as well as training and retraining of teachers.
The Governor expressed appreciation to stakeholders in the education sector for their vision in organising the summit, emphasising that “education is an investment not an expense” and that no amount of investment in education is wasted given it catalyst role in the development of the society.
The state Chief Executive, however, called on corporate bodies, private organisations and public spirited individuals to partner with the State Government in it determination to reposition the educational sector and hoped for a better system at the end of the summit.
The guest Lecturer, Rev. Ntia Ntia, who spoke on the topic: Creating a New Akwa Ibom State: ‘Ethical, Attitudinal Reorientation and Change of Mindsets” explained that when a society has people who are incompetent in government offices, in terms of performance, there will surely have poor performances.
Ntia pointed out that any school with overcrowded lectures and halls will not permit teachers to supervise students effectively, adding that students in such situations will not concentrate and assimilate lessons and as a result they would resort to examination malpractices.
He advocated a proper teacher-student ratio in class and condemned the disruption in school calendar, saying that for education to be qualitative and effective, education should be made affordable and government should discourage brain drain by formulating policies that favours the educational system.
He said, “curriculum in schools should be reviewed to suit the new age in contents particularly subjects like History and Social studies, moral instruction, entrepreneurial studies and teachers trained on teacher-student mentoring processes, modern and up-to-date knowledge of their discipline, teaching methods and discipline”.
Earlier, Prof. Nse Essien, the Commissioner of Education, had said the summit was to redirect attention of the education stakeholders to building human capital development for Akwa Ibom State.
Prof. Essien, said man and society can only be transformed through human capacity development which can only be realised through education which can produce enough food to feed the populace, jump start the State industrial revolution and build robust economy where unemployment will be a thing of the past.
Former Governor of the state, Arc. Obong Victor Attah, in his goodwill message, commended Governor Emmanuel’s vision in organising the summit to chart a road map for education.
The elder statesman harped on the need for government to hand over mission schools to missionaries who can inculctate moral instruction and religious values in the curriculum of studies as was the case in the past.
Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, assured that the summit would enhance the restructuring of educational system to provide manpower for the aviation, industrialisation, the Deep-sea port and other laudable projects embarked upon by the visionary Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel.
Dr. Aniekan Brown, a senior lecturer with the University of Uyo, observed that any society that fail to plan, plans to fail but for any society to avoid failing, human capacity development should be differentiated from human capital development.
Brown an education stakeholder called on parents to take responsibilities in grooming their children, saying that the foundation of every learning process begins at home and urged stakeholders in education to evaluate and review capacity development to address the gaps, explaining that capacity tested will bring up a new way forward.
He charged the participants to brainstorm and come up with policies that would aid the successful implementation of educational policies, maintaining that society should emphasised on education and not certification.