STATE OF EMERGENCY IN BAYELSA EDUCATION.
The recent declaration of a state of emergency in state educational sector is the best decision taken on the sector since the past fifteen years of the state creation.
The state governor, Chief Henry Seriake Dickson made this long-overdue pronouncement last month during his inaugural ceremony at Peace Park Yenagoa and thus ushered in a new and glorious change for Bayelsa.
More worrisome is the fact that Bayelsa falls among several other states tagged as educationally disadvantaged.
In most of the rural areas, the common story is that of dilapidated buildings, lack of sitting desks and chairs, ill-motivated, poorly trained teachers and quacks as teachers who handle pupil and students without books and uniforms.
For instance, the low levels of enrolment in schools and poor performance in examination have remained identifiable outcome of the failed educational system.
The urban areas did not fare better as cases of overcrowded classrooms, inadequate teachers among other problems bedevilled the sector.
Upon the creation of Bayelsa state on the first of October, nineteen ninety-six, the yawning gap or inadequacies in the area of the educational sector became glaring to all critical observers.
Often, the media is submersed with threats of strike by teachers over non-payment of promotion arrears, allowances and annual increment.
In some cases, such predicaments have lingered up to four years without remedy.
The outcome of such a scenario is reduced attention given to pupils and students by teachers which eventually give birth to poor examination performance.
Poor examination results among secondary school students at the WASC and SSCE are bitter stories Bayelsans have had to go through in the past.
There are no gain saying the fact that the state of emergency declared in the educational sector will checkmate these and other abnormalities like corruption, moral decadence, cultism and examination malpractices.
It is also not a cheering development that in the past, parents and guardians woke up to hear that WAEC and SSCE results of students were withheld in the state over the authorities failure to pay exam fees.
With this declaration of state of emergency, it become imperative to verify from the state ministry of education the authenticity of such claims of non-payment of examination fees and correct the anomaly.
This is the right time to reverse all obnoxious practices that negate the academic privileges, rights and obligations of the Bayelsa child from standing the chances of adequately competing with their peers from any part of the world.
Overseas scholarship scheme is another area the declared state of emergency should endeavour to take a cursory look at for purposes of fairness and probity.
In the past, ninety-five percent of foreign scholarship awards are based on nepotism.
Consequently, names that appear for the scheme are wards or children of government officials and political appointees while brilliant children from poor homes were relegated to the background.
The world’s best practice methods require competitive examination to ensure that students who benefit from such scholarship awards are based on merit.
The Seriake Dickson led administration should therefore implement to the letter the re-engineering of the state educational sector with a view to making the state stand tall among comity of states.
It is also imperative to give special attention to gifted children of poor family background in the award of overseas scholarships.
Training and retraining of teachers becomes a major step towards achieving this goal.
Some parents and guardians have experienced very poor encounter with supposed teachers of pupils particularly at the primary school level.
For instance, some of the teachers are academically inadequate and have very little fallow therefore has nothing to offer the child.
The old school buildings of the Government Teachers Training College, Okordia-Zarama could be rehabilitated and used as a retraining ground for all grades of teachers.
Government’s effort at taking back students of the famous BDGS to their original homestead at Ovom and the moving of displaced BYCAS Secondary School students to the SPDC Science School at Okaka is also commendable.
There is the urgent need for a well funded and viable inspectorate division in the state ministry of education with well trained supervisors to mount vigorous inspection of schools and academic activities for high productivity.
Imprest for head teachers and games masters, special packages for English, Science and Mathematics teachers as well as motivations for those posted to rural areas require renewed attention.
Keeping faith with the Governor Seriake administration of Restoration through prayers is therefore required of Bayelsans in revamping the education sub-sector for the better.
The declared state of emergency in the state educational sector is one that requires the support of all and sundry to succeed.