By Ime Silas
Ongoing investigation by The Profile Newspaper into the education sector in Akwa Ibom state has revealed rots which, if not addressed, have the potential of marring the future of children of the state.
Stakeholders in the state’s education sector have bemoaned what they have unanimously described as a total neglect by the Governor Udom Emmanuel- led government since its inception.
The current administration in the state runs a free and compulsory education policy it inherited from predecessors.
Our checks have revealed that the number of privately-owned schools have continued to soar and patronage is increasing on daily basis in spite of the extremely exorbitant fees they charge parents and guardians in the state.
Ironically, public schools in Akwa Ibom state are not sought after, even when they are ‘free and compulsory’.
Our paper gathered that the few public schools which are still being patronized in the state have very high number of students/pupils due to the past glories of competitively high standard. Such schools have their already dilapidated structures and facilities, overstretched.
Most parents who spoke to our correspondent seem to hold a unanimous belief that sending their children to public schools in Akwa Ibom could be equated with deliberately dimming their future.
When quizzed on the basis of their conclusion given that most prominent indigenes of the state got educated through the public schools, Mr. Raphael Esitikot, an Uyo-based businessman said “You cannot refer to what we have in Akwa Ibom state today as schools. May be there is another name for it”.
He continued “Can you mention one Commissioner, Permanent Secretary, Local Government Chairman, or even a common Councillor that sends his or her children to a public school in Akwa Ibom state today?
They can’t, because they know how far they have helped in destroying the public schools in the state. None of them wants to dim the future of their children.
The days you hear about prominent people of today schooling in public schools were days when governments were interested in education; when governments were interested in the performance of students”, Esitikot concluded.
Speaking, a teacher at the West Itam Secondary School, located opposite the NNPC Filling Station, Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road, who craved anonymity for fear of victimization, told our correspondent that, with the current situation, it would require God’s special intervention for students of public schools in Akwa Ibom state to excel academically.
She said: “What we have now is terribly bad. You can imagine a school like West Itam (Secondary school) with over 4,000 (four thousand) students, having just 4 (four) Mathematics Teachers. The situation is nearly the same in Science subjects that I teach.
Other teachers are Youth Corps members and N-Power beneficiaries, who, of course you know, are not reliable.
This is a school you have a class, like SS1 and so forth, subdivided into ‘A to K, and some to M’ sections, yet, no class accommodations for them. If you see when we have classes, you would shed tears”.
In a chat on the Telephone, the State Chairman of Akwa Ibom Parents Teachers Association, AKPTA, Elder Ataide, said the issues had not been raised formally during a meeting of the association and promised to revert once he was properly briefed.
Meanwhile, Records have shown that a paltry 2.6% of the 2019 budget, for example, was allocated for education in Akwa Ibom State. The state is one of the highest earners of federal allocation with an average of about N17 billion monthly.
When contacted, some school principals who confided in our paper, blamed the rot on government officials in charge of education in the state, accusing them of, allegedly, embezzling the funds meant for the sector.
The newly appointed Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Ephraim Inyangeyen, in a WhatsApp chat on the issues with our correspondent, denied the allegations of any financial embezzlement.
Our correspondent made efforts to speak to the out-gone Commissioner for Education, Prof. Nse Essien, as at the time of investigations but were unsuccessful.
…to be continued