The Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has on Tuesday said that the education of Osun children should not be a subject for petty squabbles and that his administration’s efforts at revamping education never had a religious motive.
The governor at the formal commissioning of Baptist Central Elementary School, Ilare, Ile-Ife, held at the school premises noted that government on the new schools, has committed N14.4 billion on capital projects, while recurrent annual expenditure is N21 billion on elementary schools.
Aregbesola added that N13.43 billion has been spent on secondary schools, which amounts to per capita spending of N84,000 per elementary school pupil, and N30,000 per secondary school pupil, stressing that total capital expenditure on all schools in the last three years outside new schools is N31.31 billion.
He pointed out that works and spendings are still going on and will not stop until the administration achieves its goal of making public schools in Osun where pupils can get the kind of education that will place them at par with the very best in the world is achieved.
According to the governor, “ what we have brought to education in Osun, if we will not sound immodest, amounts to a revolution. Critics who will be honest should compare this new school and its facilities to what obtained when they went to school and what public schools have become of recent.
”Let me repeat for the umpteen time that our efforts at revamping education never had a religious motive. We are motivated by the highest ideal of developing a complete personality who will be an asset to society as he would be for himself.
“This is a total man that understands life as an endeavour to add value to society through application of self for the benefit of all. We are clearly neutral on religious observances. It is this neutrality that is the root of the absurd stigmatisation”. The governor told the gathering.
Aregbesola stated that if politicians are genuinely interested in the future of Osun children, they will bury their narrow concerns of today in order to assure children a glorious tomorrow. He noted that progress and advancement are the desires of every human society, and that these are brought about by persistently confronting and providing solutions to societal problems.
The governor stressed that government should serve as an arbitrator in society, always in pursuit of public interest, which is larger and necessary for the good and happiness of all, adding that government must not discriminate with regard to its beneficiaries, and must not favour any group or individual.
In his words, “by design and purpose, the new school buildings are not for Muslims or for Christians, neither are they for adherents of any other religion. They are for all children of Osun, regardless of their circumstances of birth.
“This I expect should be the basis upon which government should be engaged and encouraged.
The education of our children should not be a subject for petty squabbles or unhealthy politics about our narrow interests”. Aregbesola told people at the gathering. The governor while recounting his administrations significant achievements added 10,407 new teachers have been added to public school teaching staff in Osun. He revealed that the state now has 12,715 teachers in primary schools and 7,848 teachers in high schools, which amounts to a 54.8 per cent increase in the number of public school teachers it inherited.
Aregbesola added that the number of non-teaching staff has also increased by 564, stressing that with the increment, salaries and pensions of primary and secondary school teachers now cost government N16.8 billion and N10.3 billion respectively on an annual basis.
On the free school uniforms, the governor said he has expended N900 million, while the elementary school feeding programme costs N3.6 billion every year.
“On the supply of furniture to our schools, we have committed N2.5 billion so far, while we have spent N503 million on instructional materials which were not part of public school education before we assumed office. We have similarly increased school grants from N122 million to N856 million.
“Under our administration, WAEC fees have also shot up from N38 million to N400 million. We have also expended N1.2 billion on our pace-setting e-learning tablet, Opon-Imo”. The governor pointed out.
The Deputy Governor, Mrs Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori, who also doubles as the Commissioner for Education, said the new school is a testimony of the sincerity of the Aregbesola’s administration towards the school reform. She described the commissioned elementary school as an architectural masterpiece, which is designed not only to attract the pupils but also to provide a level playing ground for them irrespective of their background.
“Education reform of this government is a complete package to provide a level playing field for all pupils of school-going age in the state. We also introduced school meal system called O’Meal to provide balance diet to enhance physical and mental strength and development of the pupils. The school is an architectural masterpiece designed to accommodate 1000 pupils. The classrooms are well-ventilated. This will allow for more space as opposed to the old crowded classroom system. And this will ultimately promote conducive learning,” Laoye-Tomori said.
In his remark, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, commended Aregbesola for what he described as wonder of a school. The monarch said he was well-pleased with what he saw, saying the governor has performed excellently in the last three and half years of his administration.
“I saw the new school and I was well-pleased with what I saw. The people of the town and state will also confirm that the school is one of the best they have seen in this country. All I want to say is to enjoin the people to continue to support the government so that it can do more,” the Ooni said.
It was a bright day for the pupils of the schools and their parents who marvelled at the size and beauty of the new school premises.
Representatives of the labour unions in the state led by Comrade Adetunji said the massive school is one of the reasons the workers took a decision long time ago to back the Aregbesola administration.