Imo state government has released over 1.7billion Naira for the funding of free tertiary education programme of Gov Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
While launching the programme tagged ‘Investment for the Future’ on Monday at heroes square, Owerri, Gov. Okorocha disclosed that over nineteen thousands students of Imo origin schooling in Imo State University, Imo State Polytecnic Umuagwo and School of Health Science Technology, Amaigbo, Nwangele LGA will benefit from the scheme. While students of IMSU get N100,000 each for 2012/2013 academic session, students of Imo State Polytechnic and College of Health Technology will receive N80, 000 and N60,000 respectively.
The governor who had earlier declared free education in primary and secondary schools in the state however presented cheques to some beneficiaries to demonstrate the beginning of the programme.
Gov. Okorocha explained that it was his vision and utmost desire to make education free for all towards creating opportunities for the children of the poor to access qualitative education which he lamented had before now an exclusive privilege for the rich.
He further disclosed that arrangements are being concluded to absorb students of Imo origin in other tertiary institutions in the country during the second phase of the programme.
Gov. Okorocha posited that free education at all level in the state is a preparation for a better future that will guarantee the eradication of ignorance, poverty and injustice.
While he urged the students to shun anti-social vices such as prostitution, cultism and armed robbery, the governor expressed optimism that the adoption of all students by the state government under the free education programme will inculcate the spirit of patriotism in their minds and make them responsive citizens.
He maintained that free education to tertiary level is possible in Nigeria if leaders could shun corruption and self-aggrandizement as the country is endowed with abundant resources.
Gov. Okorocha added that his government successfully funded the multiple-billion Naira free education programme by reducing the cost of governance and making sacrifices which include the forfeiture of his four years salary and reduction of the security vote from N6billion Naira to N2.5B.
The governor, however directed the students to return to their various communities and collect their cheques from their traditional rulers immediately even as he urged them to always remember to extend the gesture to future generation whenever they get the opportunity to do so.
Gov. Okorocha also at the occasion announced the release of N1Billion Naira for the payment of gratuity to beneficiaries whose amount is below N500,000.
While he lamented on the huge sum of gratuities owed to retirees by the past administrations, Gov. Okorocha said his administration deliberately resolved to begin the payment of those that retired as junior staff to cushion their plight.
Earlier, the commissioner for education, Prof Adaobi Obasi said Gov. Okorocha’s passion for education is being taken to higher heights via the achievement of what many had described impossibility in the education sector.
She added that the revolution in the education sector as pioneered by the governor is not restricted to free education as 305 model schools are being constructed in all INEC ward of the state.