By Kayode Crown
This is a different Ministry from what obtained in the last administration in Ondo State. Then it was just Ministry of Education. Now it is Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. It is now an omnibus ministry with responsibility for managing the cutting edge areas of Science and Technology.
To attempt to peer into the mind of the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, for making such a move, one can guess that he is responding to the times we are in, moving with the trend.
Nobody can sensibly ignore such matters in the days we are in.
Life is not just about the application of brute force to solve different problems, rather, knowledge is power, specifically with regards to the Science and Technology arena.
The future belongs to communities who take Science and Technology seriously. We should channel the Science and Technology prowess of the people of the state towards solving different problems. If adequate attention is put into this, we would be surprised at the ingenuity of the people.
It is reflective of the forward looking nature of this present administration with the matters of Science and Technology put on the front burner.
It is now the responsibility of the Ministry under the leadership of the erstwhile Chief of Staff in a previous administration in the state, in the person of Mr Femi Agagu who is the Commissioner for the ministry.
He is not a political neophyte. While in his previous engagement in the administration of late Dr Segun Agagu, he was like a manager of the office of the governor, now, he is meant to be on the driver’s seat of the Science and Technology revolution of the state.
When it comes to the matter of secondary education, the result of the state in external examinations is still a far cry from what it can be.
The incidents of miracle centres is also a menace that is hard to drive away as parents are desperate to ensure that their wards pass the exams in the proverbial one sitting.
They have not consistently put in the effort to ensure that their wards are successful at the different lower levels of education, but run from pillar to post, looking for who will collect money from them so that their children would pass at once. Then when their friends ask them for the result of their children, the answer would not be a source of disgrace to them.
Hence this desperation, which has gone beyond bonds in recent times as the parents who do not want their egos to be bruised pay for the good marks promised by the “miracle” centres.
Sometimes, the culprits are the children who put pressure on their parents, especially the not so literate ones.
According to a recent report in The Hope Newspapers, members of the education committee of the Ondo State House of Assembly, while on a visit to the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, said that they are ready to support the activities of the ministry with needed legislations.
The first on the agenda should be a bill to deal severely with schools that are clandestine “miracle” centres.
The parents should be made to bear the brunt of the law for aiding and abetting such illegalities which is indicative of the depth of corruption in the education sector.
The parents cannot play dead in this matter. And the schools found wanting should be sanctioned.
We should not wait until the hammer of the federal examination bodies lands on those schools; rather they should be dealt with here. The Yoruba will say: rebuke your child so that he can give you peace. The child in this case are the “miracle” centres.
We should tighten things at our end. If we strictly enforce the sanctity of examinations, everyone will sit up realising that there is no short cut to success.
A law should be enacted geared towards ensuring that all children are in school, that none is exempted from basic education.
Truancy in the schools is also a big cause for concern to stakeholders. A school task force should be set up to nip this menace in the bud in order to inculcate the right morals into the students, which is vital to their overall development and for the long term benefit of the society.
Civic lessons should not just be about the responsibility to the society but also about keeping a sane mind at all times and avoiding excesses. The right orientation for life should be put in the young ones for a better society, with the right morals, manners and mannerism.
Our tertiary institutions need great attention paid to them, so that they will continue to churn out graduates that can hold their own anywhere in the world.
It is time to do away with the obsolete curricula, poorly equipped laboratories. Everything should be done to bridge the gap between what is and what should be.
As the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo said, at a recent event of University of Lagos Alumni Association: “A lot will have to come from the alumni and the private sector.
“That is how great universities all over the world are run.”
The Pro-Chancellor of University of Lagos, Dr Wale Babalakin, at the event, reeled out vital statistics regarding the needed cost for training undergraduates.
According to him, “The estimated cost of training an undergraduate is about N1.2 million per annum. UNILAG will require about N64 billion yearly to run while about N1.3 trillion is required by the FG to run universities per annum.
“The fund cannot be provided by the FG alone and we have to devise creative ways to fund the universities.”
There is no alternative except the involvement of the private sector. This is the matter for the Ondo State House of Assembly to look into. They should emplace legislations that will show that the state-owned tertiary institutions are open to receive funding and the funding won’t be mismanaged.
The way to run a modern society is through legislations that are enforced and not just making emotional appeals.
The idea that government alone should fund tertiary education is obsolete.
Even if the UNESCO recommended 13 percent of the budget for Education is abided by, it would still not be enough, talk less of now that governments come up with all manners of excuses why that percentage should, for all intent and purposes, be ignored.
Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. We should not have tertiary institutions that are inadequate to equip the people for the challenges of the 21st century where Technology and the Internet are in the driver’s seat, where self-effort is now the master, where taking initiative for yourself, rather than being spoon-fed, is the way to go, where self-initiated learning is now the primary way to learn in the vast universe of knowledge domiciled on the Internet.
Students should be trained to adapt to and adopt the 21st century mindset and approach to solving societal problems to be on the cutting edge.
The communities where the tertiary institutions are located should rise up to meet their funding challenge. The people should let their altruistic juices flow towards those institutions for the benefit of generations yet unborn.
A respectable body should be set up not only to receive but to transparently manage the funds that will come in and this should be part of an appropriate legislation in this regard.