SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF OSUN, OGBENI RAUF AREGBESOAL, AT THE FORMAL COMMISSIONING OF A.U.D. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, ISALE-OSUN, OSOGBO, ON THURSDAY MARCH 13, 2014
A day like this marks another watershed in the grand project of building the foundation for the great future of the State of Osun. And for me and those with which my government is peopled, education is arguably the most solid foundation upon which to erect that great future.
The American civil rights activist, Malcolm X, also recognised this fact in his observation that: ‘Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today’.
Thus, I am filled with profound joy to gather with all of you here today for the commissioning of another of our new model school buildings, the A.U.D. Elementary School, Isale-Osun, Osogbo. This school is another sign of our serious intent to completely remake the public education system in our dear state.
When I assumed office as the governor of the state, I had a vision of what the future of education in Osun public school should be like. It is a vision that sees our public sector education on a comparable level with what obtains in the most educationally advanced parts of the world. And it is towards the realisation of this vision that the energy and attention of my government have been resolutely focused. It is a vision that we intend to see through without minding the obstacles in our path.
As a government, we are fully aware of the fact that leadership is empty without vision; but we equally do know that vision absent action is idle daydreaming from which transformation can never come about. Indeed, idle daydreaming can only result in nightmare.
However, positive transformation is a function of vision that is passionately translated into concrete action on the ground.
As Arnold H. Glasow insightfully reminds us: ‘An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied’.
This is why all the policies and programmes of our administration have been deeply steeped in vision, well-oiled by passion, and firmly backed by action.
Therefore, as far as education in Osun is concerned, ours is a government on a mission; a mission to develop the greatest asset in nature – the human mind. The human mind is by far the most valuable infrastructure that any government can build; for it is the ultimate source of all other infrastructure, no matter how awesome or impressive these may be.
In fact, the most breathtaking physical infrastructure that have ever been built are only a reflection of the quality and depth of the human mind from where they spring. Accordingly, the model schools we are building are the concrete manifestation of our vision of public education in Osun; they are as well a bold statement of our mission as a government.
This education mission is solely driven by public interest without preference for any private interest, be it religious or otherwise. As I said during the last elementary school commissioning in Ile-Ife, the goal of our education policy is bringing about human advancement and progress, which are desires that are common to all members of the human family. And education is the most effective means of achieving this.
In the same vein, these schools are unmistakable indications of our resolve to equip our school children in the state in a manner that will enable their minds to spring forth great ideas. The kind of ideas that can make the difference in their immediate environment, and the sort that can cause a sea change in the world at large. As affirmed by the late South African President, Nelson Mandela, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’.
We have repeatedly made this clear that our education policy is informed by the noble ideal of developing a well-rounded personality who would be as immensely useful to society as he would be to himself. We are talking about a robustly educated person who views himself in terms of his usefulness to others, and whose understanding of life is about what value he can bring to bear on it by applying himself to solving the problems of concern to all.
We will remain unwaveringly committed to what we are doing because we place a very high priority on education. And this is far from being a mere policy haunch. Rather, it is a deliberate attempt on our part to develop the greatest assets God has given to mankind; the power of the intellect.
It is a formidable form of power with which every other challenges in nature can be conquered. This is not a fairy tale. It is a fact that has been demonstrated throughout the history of humankind. Its truth is being demonstrated still in our time.
Two of the most advanced countries in the world today, Japan and Singapore, are visible examples of this truth. The two countries are different in virtually every respect. However, they interestingly have two things in common: they both lack of mineral resources and both have high literacy rates.
In other words, they have the most important endowment a country could possess, which is a well-educated citizenry. And with this, they have been able to conquer all other challenges. Hence, their drawback in natural resource endowment notwithstanding, they rank among the very best on all indices of development.
The two countries are a living example of Maya Angelou’s assertion that: ‘When you know better, you do better’. What this means is that the infrastructure of knowledge is the key to unlocking the infrastructure well-being.
Since we know this to be true, it will be remiss on our part to neglect the development of this most critical infrastructure. It is not without reason that that inimitable Greek philosopher, Aristotle, made the observation that: ‘The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living differs from the dead’.
Thus, the overriding purpose of our education policy is to give our children what it takes to be masters of their environment. And we see nothing wrong with this. Indeed, it is the right thing to do. And it makes one wonder why our detractors cannot see as such.
Well, it is high time they changed their mindset, because we are not about to change course. In the building of more schools, we will keep on confronting them with the evidence of their futility; and with the accompanying message that they cannot alter our focus, neither can they derail our mission.
For this is one mission we regard as our sacred duty towards our children and their own children that are yet unborn. And we will not fail them. And if only for their sake, we will stick with what we are doing until our mission is accomplished.
I must thank every person that has made this day possible. I must therefore thank the AUD mission for its investment in education and for founding this school. It is a foundation and a worthy legacy we are now building upon. I will also like to thank the Ministry of
Education under the able leadership of my deputy, Mrs Grace Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, O’School, under which the reconstruction of the school took place and other stakeholders involved in the state’s education reform.
I thank you all for your kind attention.
Osun a dara!