By Bassey Nkponam
Stakeholders in the basic education sector in Akwa Ibom State,have advocated for a conducive learning environment for children in the basic and general education sector.
At the recent advocacy meeting in Uyo and organized by Women United for Economic Empowerment (WUEE) on a project titled, Action for Strengthening State Accountability, Transparency and Citizen Engagement Activity in the Basic Education Sector, in collaboration with State and funded by the USAID, stakeholders bared their minds on issues bothering basic education in the state.
Participants who were drawn from the three thematic local government areas covered by the State2State project namely, Ikono, Onna and Ibesikpo; directors of education in the three local government areas; civil society organizations (CSOs);Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWDs), officials from the Special Education Centre, Uyo;, among others, harped on the need for attention to be given to the basic education sector in the state.
The director, Centre for Development Research Environment and Advocacy (CEDREA), Department of Political Science & Public Administration, University of Uyo, Associate Prof. EtimFrank, stressed the need for parents to give their children quality education than properties to enable them become useful to themselves and the society.
According to him, those properties no matter how plenty could be sold out by the children after the death of their parents, recalling wealthy indigenes of the state that amass wealth for their children but were sold out and mismanaged after their death.
Frank who presented a report on the social audit survey of schools across Ibesikpo, Onna and Ikono local government areas of project implementation, the leader of the research team, described education as a given right with immense power for development, adding that, “If we do not train our children, then we are not doing them well.”
The team leader who saw education as the premise of progress in the society, said the best investment people can make is to invest in their children, stressing the need for an improved educational system in Nigeria to enable it compete with Ukraine and other countries in the world patronized widely by rich Nigerian parents.
He made known that the fruit of education is sweet, though theroot is bitter, as seen in parents who struggle under the present economic situation in the country to train their children..
Frank said the advocacy meeting was for stakeholders to advocate for schools to be made better than those in Ukraine; to take a look on how the basic education sector in Akwa Ibom can be properly managed.
According to him, the advocacy meeting was for them to speak out, take a stand and be able to convince government to take action and make Akwa Ibom children comfortable in schools.
Frank opined that every fund meant for basic education should have immediate release, even as the middle and long term needs should be captured in the 2023 budget.
Stakeholders at the meeting observed that some school children go to school hungry and return home same, while some have no desk because of the poverty level of their parents and government to see the need to restore the school feeding system in schools in the state. as was introduced by the Federal Government.
Participants called on government to see the need of allowing children with special needs and normal ones to be in the same learning environment but in separate classroom blocks to enable the earlier opportunity to mix up with the latter.
Stakeholders stressed the need to put The Pioneer printing machine to use, as this equipment can produce exercise books for use in schools to aid the success of the free education system in the state.
Participants stressed the need for the provision of writing desks in schools, as most students in the basic education level do not have this important item, saying, this sometimes lead to lack of concentration and participation by affected children.
Earlier, the programme officer of WUEE, Mr Joshua Nya,while giving an overview of WUEE and the State2State project activity, said State2State project is being implemented in seven local government areas of Akwa Ibom State covering thematic areas like health, public financial management, WASH, conflict resolution and basic education which WUEE is handling.
He recalled that early this year, stakeholders were invited to a roundtable meeting to identify key challenges in the basic education sector and upon identification of challenges, WUEE carried out an audit survey in 10 schools in each local government area while State2State allocated three local government areas of Ikono, Ibesikpo and Onna for the project.
Nya appreciated participants for their numerous contributions that seek towards the improvement of basic education in Akwa Ibom State.