Education is a consuming passion of the people and Government of Akwa Ibom State. From 2007 till date, education has moved from ruins and commodities beyond reach to citadels of equal opportunities practicing well articulated and State Government fortified Universal Basic Education (UBE) scheme, with government regularly raising standards to ensure greater performance.
Education in Akwa Ibom has grown in leaps and bounds to become a major component of state economic empowerment and development strategy.
According to the Honourable Commissioner for Education in the state, Mr. Aniekan Akpan, the state Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, has pledged to raise the standard of education for every citizen of the state.
He stated this in an Online conversation with a cross section of AKS New Media practitioners on Wednesday with the hashtag #AKSEducation, which had over 700,000 Nigerians as participants, and was stream-lined live on Youtube.
One of the greatest legacies the current administration has bequeathed on the people of Akwa Ibom State is the free and compulsory Education policy. Under this policy, children of school age go to school free from primary to senior secondary level.
In addition to free tuition, the State pays a subvention of N100 per primary school pupil and N300 per secondary school student to cater for logistics and expenses for the administration of each child.
“The state government grants children equal opportunities to develop worthwhile careers to benefit the society through the free and compulsory education policy.
“With this policy, the state’s education sector became re-branded, re-positioned, and completely re-packaged. Also, with domiciliation of the Child Rights Act by the state government just a few months after, education in Akwa Ibom became a fundamental right for all children residing in the state.”
On the compulsory aspect, he explained that the Child Rights Law takes care of truancy, which is combated by criminalising hawking by school-age children during school hours at the pain of arrests and prosecutions.
“Government provides free and compulsory education in the state with the full knowledge that there is the need for basic education. We have the best, qualified and trained teachers in our 1,160 public schools.”
Also, government has ensured the provision of a conducive learning environment in schools for the Akwa Ibom children through massive rehabilitation and reconstruction of schools’ blocks, provision of science and laboratory equipment, construction of hostels and supply of desks etc.
The Education Commissioner blamed the problem of insufficient desks in some of the public schools, on the ill-maintenance culture of the society.
“We are yet to imbibe maintenance culture in Akwa Ibom State. People would bring out the desks in the schools during Christmas, traditional marriage and other ceremonies, use and then abandon them to rot.
“The fact that government provides free education does not imply that you cannot play your role as a parent.”
On payment of teachers’ salaries, Mr. Akpan stated that funding for teachers are handled by local government and that plans are being put in place to resolve the issue.
The Honourable Commissioner further disclosed that the State also has a dedicated and comprehensive school for physically challenged people.
Speaking on measures to combating crime and social vices in the schools, Mr. Akpan stated that “Cultism is not one of the subjects in the school. School heads have been directed to take full responsibility of disciplines in the school.”