Nigeria was on the limelight last weekend, but this time for the good reasons, as four of its citizens emerged best graduating students of Dillard University, United States of America (USA).
Out of the four meritorious Nigerians, three are from Abia State, while the forth is from Delta State. The estimable students from Abia are Victor Ogburie, Computer Science Major with minors in Physics and Mathematics, Stephen Ogidi Igwe, Biology Major and Emole Anya Dimgba-Computer Science Major with minors in Physics and Mathematics. The forth Nigerian, Merrilyn Akpapuna from Delta State is a Psychology Major.
This is sequel to the superlative performance of Abia students in the 2013 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), where they emerged second on the table with 65.17 percent; a sterling performance that was not surprising to many, considering the State’s huge investment in education.
This development underscores the fact that the future of Abia State is bright.
It is a fact that investments in education, or “human capital,” are an important source of economic growth.
Realizing that education is key to the development of Abia State, His Excellency Governor Theodore Orji, in his 2014 budget presentation, promised that the sector, will continue to be a thriving and buoyant industry in the State.
He stated that Government was poised to stamping-out every trace of illiteracy in the State, by ensuring continuous increased allocation of resources to the sector.
Consequently, the State will continue to consolidate on the gains recorded through various policies implemented in the sub-sector.
It will also take specific steps to eliminate cultism, examination mal-practices, male school drop-out, and other vices that plague the sub-sector.
These efforts of the State Government to reposition the education sector are already paying off. The Abia State Polytechnic are current champions of the National Software Competition, for tertiary institutions-universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in the country.
Also recently, the Abia State representatives at the 10th NNPC Annual National Science Competition for Secondary schools in the country emerged winners.
Governor Orji, who expressed happiness over this development, attributed the feat recorded in the 2013 WASSCE by Abia State to the new reforms introduced by government in the educational sector.
This fiscal year, the State Government will build more class room blocks and old ones renovated, scholarships and bursaries will be provided to assist our children, while the free school bus would be sustained and subventions to Abia Polytechnics and College of Education, Technical, Arochukwu will be beefed up.
Already, about 23 students of Abia State origin are currently enjoying overseas scholarship courtesy of the Governor Theodore Orji led administration.
Those studying at home were not left out, as His Excellency, Governor Theodore Orji has approved N50,000 bursary for Abia students in tertiary institutions in the country.
Beneficiaries of the first phase of the programme are drawn from the Abia State University, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, College of Education Technical, Arochukwu, School of Health Technology, Aba and Abia Students in all the six Law Schools in the country.
The second phase of the programme, will consider Abia students in other higher institutions in the country.
And just recently, Governor Orji fulfilled his promise to the State Polytechnic in Aba, by increasing the institution’s monthly subvention from N25 million to N90 million, an increase of about 300 percent.
This development has been applauded by the management and staff of the institution, who strongly believes that increased funding of the institution, would engender more growth in the institution, touted to be the fasted growing Polytechnic in the country.
The State Government also released the certificate of occupancy of the Polytechnic, to enable the institution to start developing its second campus at Osisioma area of Aba.
Developing the education sector is top priority of the Governor Theodore Orji led administration in Abia State and providing conducive environment for learning is a commitment his administration owes to every school age child in the State.
The State Government has embarked on construction and reconstruction of over 154 classroom blocks, in primary and secondary schools across the 17 Local Government Areas of the State in partnership with the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), which the State Government has paid its counterpart fund of N1 billion.
In 2012, the Abia State Universal Education Board was recognized as the best managed basic education board in the South East.
The Abia State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ASOPADEC) also received the Governor’s matching order to take rehabilitation of schools as priority. Today, about 78 primary and secondary schools have been renovated in its catchment areas.
Currently, the state government is building three model classroom blocks of 28-room capacity in each of the three senatorial zones in Abia State.
Schools chosen for the project are Ovim (Technical) Secondary School, Isuikwuato; for Abia North senatorial zone, Government College, Umuahia for Abia Central and Abayi Girls Secondary School, Aba, for Abia South senatorial zone.
As far as His Excellency is concerned, the handing over of schools to their original owners remains an ongoing process by his administration aimed at improving the standard of education and reducing examination malpractices/acquisition of certificates through unfair means.
Stakeholders have been applauding that move, saying it would restore the standard of education in the state. They also hailed the decision to scrap all hidden levies illegally imposed by school administrators.
Welfare of teachers was also a top priority in the educational programme of the present administration in the State. To this end, the State Government approved the payment of the new “Teachers Salary Structure (TSS).
Nnaji is the Special Assistant, e-governance and Strategy to Abia State Governor
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