The Government of the State of Osun on Wednesday officially commissioned the Salvation Army Middle School, Osogbo amidst pump and fanfare as parents, guardians and students thronged the venue in thousands.
The elated parents defied the rain to witness the epoch-making commissioning event of the new school, which is one of the 100 elementary, 50 middle and 20 high schools under the schools infrastructure upgrade tagged O’School.
The governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who dressed in the middle school uniform said the commissioning of the Salvation Army Middle School, is a resounding reaffirmation that Osun education policy is a train engineered for a one-way trip to success.
The Deputy Governor of Osun who also doubles as the Commissioner for Education, Chief Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori, pointed out that the school has proved the skeptics wrong. She said though it did not come cheap, the building which she described as one of the many to be commissioned, represents the crowning glory of the Aregbesola revolutionary agenda in the education sector.
Laoye-Tomori said, “I feel like ‘break dancing’, even at my age. The joy excitement, sense of fulfilment all rolled into one; I specifically thank God that I am alive to see the coming to fruition of a ‘vision’ seen, conceptualized, and deployed by my indefatigable governor, Ogbeni Aregbesola.”
Aregbesola speaking further held that the trip began with the Education Summit convened when he assumed office, noting that the Summit was summoned against the background of the decay the administration met in public schools, which it found simply unacceptable.
According to him, “The Summit was summoned against the background of the decay we met in Osun public schools, which we found simply unacceptable. The Summit, composed of eminent Nigerians like the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, came up with a reform blueprint to overhaul public sector education in the state.
“We have since been working assiduously to implement the reform plan. The commissioning of this school is good evidence that all is going to plan with our reform. As part of the reform, we decided to reorganise the school system into Elementary, Middle and High school categories.
“The Elementary level will comprise pupils from ages 6 to 9 years, which corresponds to primary 1 to 4 pupils under the existing system. The Middle level from primary 4 to JSS 3 of ages 10 to 14, now classified as Grades 5-9, and the High School level age range will be between 15 and 17 years, corresponding to Senior Secondary School III, to be known as Grades 10-12.” The governor revealed.
Aregbesola stressed that the Elementary and Middle School level’s buildings will each accommodate 900 pupils, while the High School building will have capacity for 3,000 students.
He added that there will be 100 of such buildings at the Elementary, 50 at the Middle, and 20 at the High school levels, making a total of 170. The governor added that the High Schools are a mega structure of mini-city size each having three schools in one with facilities for all subjects in the Sciences, Arts and Social Sciences, including state of the art laboratories, recreation centres and a food court.
“The overall aim of the reforms we are carrying out is to develop the new man intellectually, socially and morally. This new man is placed in the centre of society who views his own development as part of and for the development of society
“This is a non-parasitic and non-oppressive man who views his existence in light of the growth of others; he views whatever he acquired to be subsumed in the overall interest of others. He is a man in himself and a man for society. This is the Omoluabi essence.” The governor told the gathering.
Aregbesola appealed to parents to support the government in its efforts by preparing their wards for the new system and especially kit them with the new uniform, saying the gains are already tumbling in as the state is witnessing progressive improvement in the academic performances of our pupils.
He noted that beside distribution of Opon Imo and the school feeding programme, the economic ramification of the education reform is simply colossal. “Some 3,000 women have been employed for the Elementary feeding programme; this is in addition to the gains it has brought to the production capacities of farmer-suppliers of farm produce, as well as the poultry and beef inputs for the food menu.” The governor added.
He also reminded those present at the event to remember the depressing outlooks of the former schools which he said were never fit for learning. He said the transformation of the schools is another illustration of the massive transformation taking place in all aspects of the lives of the Osun people.
Earlier in his remarks, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Senator Sola Adeyeye said negligence of education of children by the parents is detrimental to progress.
The Senator representing Osun Central Senatorial district added that a nation that does not invest in education of its youth has failed as a nation. He commended the governor for his commitment to education in the state.
The Professor of Molecular Biology noted that while most of the states in the country have been unable to access the UBEC funds because they could not contribute their counterpart fund, Osun State has accessed its own fund because it did not wait for the Federal Government to contribute its own counterpart funds.
He scored the state higher in education provision among the states of the federation, saying education in the state is going through revolution. The Chairman of O’School, Otunba Lai Oyeduntan, said the state of education in the state was embarrassing before Aregbesola came to power. According to him, in order to correct the anomaly, government proposed to build new buildings as part of its restructuring. Oyeduntan disclosed that by the end of the year about 15 middle schools, 13 elementary schools and 10 high schools will be delivered. He added that all necessary infrastructure have been and are being put in place to ensure smooth take-off of the schools.
In his turn, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Nojeem Salam, commended the governor for this achievement, saying since the creation of the state, it has never had it so good. The Speaker said these achievements have put the state in the class of first in the country.
He mentioned the provision of Opon Imo and other investments in education system, which he said have revived the education sector of the state.