OPINION: Education For The Total Man – Yomi Obaditan

SONY DSCThe new educational system in the state of Osun is aimed at producing the total man who will not just be literate, but be educated enough to effect a positive impact in the state and the nation as a whole. The total man, in the words of the great avatar, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, “ … is what he is because the three main constituents of his entity-his body, brain and mind are fully developed.” The governor of the state of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola declared to the pupils of Salvation Army school Alekuwodo, Osogbo while inaugurating the new school system that “our dream is to make you all renowned scholars in the future so that you can be a pride to the state of Osun and the entire country”.

The reclassification of primary and secondary schools sectors into Elementary schools, Middle schools and High school is in line with global best practices and trends. It is worthy of note, that the new educational system in the state has not in any way deviated from the 6-3-3-4 National policy on education or effected changes in the school curriculum.

The colonial-education handed over to us was not aimed at producing an all- round scholar but to train clerical clerks, interpreters and messengers. Thanks to the likes of Chief Awolowo who gave the then Western region free but qualitative education that produced the present leaders. That investment in men by Chief Awolowo made the South West to remain the pacesetter in social and economic development till date, even though, unfortunately, the military intervention later ruined our educational sector. The civilian regime failed to revive the dying or dead educational institutions, while others merely paid lips-service to it.

The government of Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola inherited a poor educational sector just as what the former President of America Bill Clinton met at Arkansas when he became the governor in 1983. The standard of public education in Arkansas then was a disgrace. This prompted Clinton to make that sector a priority; and at the end of his first term his achievement in that sector was phenomenal. The same can be said of Aregbesola today, as the Osun people home and abroad, acknowledged the governor’s impact on the educational revolution, which has successfully placed the state on the global scale with the introduction of Opon Imo-tablet of knowledge that earned the state commendation internationally.

The educational reforms in the state involved the categorization of schools.

The elementary school, which is made up of Grades 1-4, admits pupils of age range of 6-9 years. The advantage that parents and pupils derive from this class of school is the proximity to the residence, trade and work place of parents. And that will not only save both parents and pupils the cost of transportation, but will also save them the trouble of early morning rush and closing time struggles to and from school. Enrolment in the elementary schools has been so arranged in cities to be 900 pupils per school while that of schools in rural communities may have less population, and the pupils need not walk long distances  in order to attend schools.

The Aregbesola’s administration has embarked on the construction of 13 elementary school buildings across the state at the cost of N14.76 billion.

The pupils in the elementary schools are already enjoying free meals in each school day. The availability of these free meals have tripled the school enrolment in the state,  making it the state with the    highest numbers of pupils’ enrolment in Nigeria. This idea of providing free meals to pupils was adopted in Britain in September 2013; the British government hopes this will save parents the sum of £50, 000 annually. It is worthy of note to mention also the state government’s the provision of unified school uniform free of charge, increase in school and examination grants, supply of instructional materials and customized exercise books.

The Middle school is made up of Grade 5-9 with Pupils of age range of 10-14 years. The schools are located within  2-3 kilometers radius of the pupils’ residents. The enrolment will be between 900 to 1000 pupils. The schools, when completed, will be state- of- the- art, with modern facilities. The High School is made up of Grades 10-12 with students of Age range of 15-17 years. These schools are located in old school compounds with a very large space.

The enrolment will be 3000 students per school The buildings, three schools- in- one complex, are state of  the art with modern facilities, staff quarters, standard laboratories, food courts, standard sporting facilities, a school hall of 1000 minimum sitting capacity and School Mangers for the proper facility management. The students in the High School are also beneficiaries of the unified school uniform and free Opon Imo-tablet of knowledge. The government has also increased school and examination grant as well as payment of WASCE fees. 20  High Schools are being built across the state, while some have already been completed.

Why is the Osun state Government investing this much in Education? In Aregbesola’s own words: “Education is the key to our economic revival and our perennial quest for prosperity. We must dedicate more of our limited resources to paying teachers better; expanding educational opportunities in poor and small districts.” This, indeed, is the philosophy behind the governor’s huge investment in education.

The Aregbesola educational revolution has received the popular support of a high percentage of the people in the state. This is evident in the high increase in the number of enrolment in the public schools across the state. The initial fear of government changing the names of the old schools has been put to rest with the commissioning of Salvation Army schools at Alekuwodo that retained its name. The rumour about government intention to Islamise the state via school classification has since been debunked. The intention of the government is to rejuvenate education in the state in accordance with Chief Awolowo’s philosophy of the total man.

What the governor needs now is the people’s maximum support  in form of regular payment of our taxes. The former names of school and locations are not as important as the provision of modern facilities in today’s world. Several institutions in Nigeria have either been relocated or have their names changed.  A good example is the relocation of a group of people from where they used to live at  the National Stadium area in Surulere, to Shitta Bey area of Lagos; the Kala- kuta Republic owned by afro-beat musician, Fela Anikulapo Ransom Kuti which was  razed down by unknown soldiers in the 1970s, was converted to Ransom Kuti Grammar School; CMS Grammar School was relocated from Broad street to Mushin area in Lagos; the Ibadan airport, which was formerly located at Sango area was later moved to Alakia area in Ibadan. The investments in education today will certainly produce a better generation of leaders that shall take our nation to its zenith tomorrow.