Using Education To Eradicate Poverty In Osun

By Inwalomhe Donald

The United Nations’ Global Multi-dimensional Poverty Index which ranked Osun State second richest state has three measurements and 10 indicators in evaluating Overall Poverty. Every measurement is similarly weighed; every indicator within a measurement is additionally weighed, and included. It uses 10 indicators to measure poverty in three dimensions: education, health and living standards. The UN Global Multi-dimensional poverty index published a report based on the poverty rate of Nigerian states and ranked Osun second richest state.

According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics, “quality and functional educations are panacea to poverty eradication”, hence Osun’s commitment to education through building of many elementary schools, middle schools and 11 high schools to equip children with skills to eradicate poverty.

Osun education under Governor Rauf Aregbesola has developed human capabilities in areas such as health, education, agriculture, finance, transportation, commerce and governance which are the indicators needed to eradicate poverty. Osun elementary, middle and high schools education empowered people to improve their social, cultural and economic status. Huge investment in education and skills acquired increased opportunities for economic growth and are therefore a key prerequisite for poverty eradication.

The priority that Aregbesola’s administration gives to the development of education in Osun has inspired many initiatives that have brought marked differences to the grooming of minds. The blueprint that emerged from the Education Summit the administration organised in the first year of its assumption of office had provided useful direction for its drive to reposition education in the state. From huge investments in instructional materials and teaching aids, crucial changes in curriculum, corrective restructuring of schools into Elementary, Middle, and High in conformity with international best practices in school management, to the construction of mega schools, the administration moves on to ensure that public schools in the state become virile emporium of sustainable capacity-building to eradicate poverty. In the last six years, remarkable successes have been recorded and rich lessons distilled from low points.

What exists in Osun in terms of educational infrastructure development is not symbolism, but substance in developing IT and other careers to eradicate poverty.

Educational system in Osun under the leadership of Aregbesola has introduced several innovations that are needed to eradicate poverty which have received accolades home and abroad. The massive construction of new schools, Osun School Feeding Programmes (OMEAL), introduction of Opon Imo amongst other innovations have not only placed Osun on the world map of educational development, it has prepared ground for a brighter future for the students of public schools in the state by eradicating poverty.  Governor Aregbesola had said that the education revolution was part of his administration’s resolve to build a new man in every child in the state, a decision which he said would help to sustain the future of the state and to a very large extent eradicate poverty.

Osun elementary, middle and high schools have made advances in science and technology that are changing Osun in the foreseeable future. Aregbesola has identified that you cannot fight poverty without education, and he is talking about public education because more than 90 per cent of the schooling population are in public schools. When you address the issues of public schools, you are addressing poverty. In the 300 wards in the state, many schools from each ward had benefitted from Osun intervention programme.

When Osun improved the standard of public schools, by implication, it will save not less than 50 per cent of what they spend in private schools and they will get better services. Osun needs good education anchored by good leadership. Without education you cannot have water engineers, electrical engineers, you cannot have profitable agricultural sector. Even without education, you cannot have good security system. It is when there is good education system that a well-secured environment can be guaranteed. The problem in the education sector is something that has been systemic. It is not something that started in the last eight years or so.

The role of education in poverty eradication, in close co-operation with other social sectors, is crucial. No country has succeeded if it has not educated the people therein. Not only is education important in reducing poverty, it is also a key to wealth creation. Within this context, one of the pledges of the Dakar Framework for Action – Education for All: Meeting our Collective Commitments – was “To promote EFA policies within a sustainable and well-integrated sector frame/work clearly linked to poverty elimination and development strategies”.

The role of education in this process is particularly one of the ways of achieving universal primary education and adult literacy. The report made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations within the context of the Decade for the Eradication of Poverty confirms that universal primary education is central to the fight against poverty. Understandably so, because this is the level of education through which most poor children pass and within which their achievements should assist them to break the cycle of poverty. In fact, education is the social institution that reaches the largest segment of the population with the goal of guiding it through a systematic learning process.

The state-of-the-art schools which were and currently being built are of the world standard with all the facilities required in the 21stcentury standard educational institute anywhere in the world all driven forwards poverty eradication. With the quality of the schools, no one would ever believe that such could be built in Nigeria.

Just as the government has invested hugely on the infrastructural development, it has also taken further steps through its investment in human capacity to gain competitive advantage with developed countries. Besides the frequent training and retraining of teachers, particularly at the elementary, middle and high schools, one other major project that has been seen to be beneficial to teaching and learning was the introduction of the popular Opon Imo (Computer Tablet of Knowledge) to equip Osun students with ICT skills to eradicate poverty.

The Aregbesola’s administration championed the inspiring innovations through the ground breaking project which is meant to make the optimum utilization of ICT and concisely tackle learning problems to eradicate poverty. The state, through its Opón Ìmò Technology Enhanced Learning System (OTELS), has developed a learning tool that could revolutionise learning in developing states around the world.

Achieving universal primary education is a key prerequisite for the successful eradication of poverty and hunger worldwide. Only guaranteed access to a full course of primary schooling ensures that individuals are able to fulfill their development potentials and participate in the globalisation process on an equal footing. Primary education also provides the knowledge that is required for the individual to benefit from further education in the secondary and tertiary sectors and vocational training.

The purpose of basic education is to encourage learning, facilitate the ongoing learning process, promote independent thought and be problem-solving. Besides literacy and numeracy, people must also acquire life skills, for example self-help skills to eradicate poverty. Studies by the World Bank show that just four years of education help people to increase the productivity of their agricultural small holdings. Basic education is the major prerequisite for developing a population’s creative and productive capacities. A well-trained workforce enhances the quality and quantity of a country’s labour productivity.

Osun Steel High Schools: Aregbesola’s Gift To Africa

By Inwalomhe Donald

Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s bold and brilliant initiative has changed the face of education and particularly school construction in Africa, considering the massive structures that have been put in place by his administration. It is on this basis that I want to appeal to the National Universities Commission (NUC) to grant University provisional license to Osun Steel Structure High Schools in Ilesa, Iwo and Osogbo that can last for more than 100 years, so as to expand access to, and improve quality of higher education in Nigeria, as well as create room for effective mentoring and qualitative growth. This is because these schools are capable of meeting the standard of full University operations. Ilesa, Osogbo and Iwo High Schools have the required standards to operate as Universities in Nigeria.

There is nowhere in Africa that you can find steel structure high schools like the types in Ilesa, Iwo and Osogbo. I challenge anybody to prove me wrong. None of the 12 Federal Universities established in February 2011 by the Federal Government of Nigeria can boast of such structure. Ondo and Edo States have three state-owned universities each and based on what Governor Aregbesola has done, NUC should please grant license to Osun State to operate more state Universities.

Ilesa, Osogbo and Iwo steel structure constructed from Sukuk fund are good examples of schools that have changed the face of schools in Africa. The schools are with 216 classrooms, 3 ICT halls, 18 laboratories and others, with the capacity to bear heavy loads in tension and compression, high resiliency and performance under harsh and difficult conditions.

Osun Steel High schools can be shaped by many processes, ranging from standard rolled sections to custom castings and digitally generated components. The schools are wide, the buildings’ cladding highlight their durability, technical capabilities and aesthetic versatility. There is no Nigerian University, Polytechnic or College of Education that can boast of steel structure building like the ones we have in Osun. The state is the first to build such schools in Africa. They contain 216 classrooms that have the capacity to accommodate more than 9,000 students.

With Ilesa, Osogbo and Iwo steel structure Sukuk High schools, it has clearly shown that Aregbesola’s government is committed to changing the face of education, and turns it to a model in Osun, Nigeria, Africa and the entire world.

The Osun modern education policies and school reclassification policies are second to none, as the model schools are well equipped with state-of-the-arts facilities that are incomparable not only in Nigeria or Africa but in the world.

A great lesson is that the schools can be easily modified during the life cycle of a building to accommodate changing occupant requirements. As the most recycled material in the world, steel is an environmentally sound building material choice. Today, structural steel is 97 per cent recycled with the primary source being automobiles. Architects praise the natural beauty of Osun steel schools and are excited about exposing them in the design of their structures to emphasise grace, slenderness and strength, and in their building envelopes, to enhance environmental performance and aesthetic character.

President Muhammadu Buhari last year described the newly completed steel structure Osogbo Government High School built by the Aregbesola administration as an educational legacy that must be emulated by other states of the federation. Buhari noted that the 3,000-capacity steel complex with 72 classrooms, each capable of sitting 49 pupils, is in line with his administration and party’s education policy. He held that his government has been doing all it could to assist the state governments to realise their developmental plans irrespective of their political parties.

President Buhari said his government will cooperate with other state governments to make education cost-effective and accessible to other youth in the country. According to him, the example of the cost effectiveness will be exemplified by this new school, which is capable of graduating 1,000 students in a year. He averred that the school would have produced 50,000 well-trained students, who will form the fulcrum of the society in the next 50 years.

The lesson is that the story of steel structure schools building in Osun State is the first in sub Sahara Africa. It is important to note that the schools have many advantages, such as large span, low demand of base structure, Seismic and wind resistance, fast to build and easy to maintain and so on. The walls of the buildings are also flexible, as you can choose colored steel plate or EPS/PU/XPS sandwich panel as your wall system. The products can be packed in one package, and it is easy to upload, download and stack in the site.

Osun State, the first in Sub Sahara Africa has perfectly combined the traditional steel structure building with light steel building, hence, laying foundation for steel structure schools in sub Sahara Africa. This combination is used as multi-story high schools of 72 classrooms each and several departmental offices etc.

Built from steel, the schools took some years to build instead of the two years required for a more conventional structure. Many tonnes of steel were used to build the site. Unemployed workers from the township were employed on the projects, with between 60 and 80 on site each day. The steel structure can be produced in kit form, allowing quick and easy assembly. All the three schools were built using light weight steel and Arval panels with a view to promoting the use of steel in domestic buildings.

The prototype building at Ilesa, Osogbo and Iwo are not only that make extensive use of steel in the different building components but also proves that steel can be used cost effectively and aesthetically.

The lesson is that Governor Aregbesola has demonstrated that the three steel structure Schools are excellent examples of what can be achieved with steel in the construction environment and my wish is that it will ensure an iron-clad future for the students of Osun State.

Osun State steel structure high schools facilities in Ilesa, Iwo and Osogbo

  • 216 Classrooms for more than 9,000 students
  • Laboratories
  • Nutrition centre with a kitchen and storeroom
  • Workshops
  • ICT centres with computers rooms and libraries
  • Administrative building: meeting rooms, offices for the principal and two vice principals, staffroom, reception, kitchen, toilets
  • Caretaker’s house (two bedrooms, kitchen/lounge, bathroom)
  • Toilet and washroom facilities and the sports fields

The other schools built with Sukuk fund are: Wole Soyinka High School, Ejigbo; Ataoja High School, Osogbo; Fakunle Unity High School, Osogbo; Oduduwa High School, Ile Ife; Ila High School, Ila-Orangun; Adventist High School, Ede; Iwo, Akinorun High School, Ikirun and Ayedaade High School, Ikire. What is unique about Osun State High Schools is that each of them has the capacity to take off as a state university.

Food Security Risk: Lessons From Osun State, By Inwalomhe Donald

A unique network of over five Non-governmental organizations around Nigeria and their foreign affiliates seek to provide answers to food security in Nigeria. They are Justice Research Centre, Egbe and Egbe Farm Research Group, Roseline Ifeta Organization, Eleg Venture Nigeria and Queen Isedu Foundation and their foreign affiliates have helped develop a new food security index and map in Nigeria.

The five NGO’s food security analysts did a wide range of face-to-face assessments, including ‘baseline’ assessments (also known as Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analyses, or CFSVA) and Emergency Food Security Assessments(EFSA) in rapid and slow-onset emergencies such as floods, droughts and conflict situations. EFSA reports provide a snapshot of the food security situation in Iwo, Osogbo, Ife, Ede and Ilesa in Osun State. In food security, aside being cheap, Osun State is the most stable in NigeriaOsun produces its own tomatoes, yams and others.

 

Because food security assessment takes time, they were complemented by ongoing monitoring to track changes in people’s food security situations, allowing for programmatic fine tuning. This includes gathering information on food consumption, household incomes, strategies to cope at difficult times and prices to identify how seasonality affects food security.

 

The State of Osun’s agricultural programme is gradually yielding the desired results as the good people of the state are being empowered through land preparation and free distribution, credits for improved seedlings, fertilizer, etc and commercial production of honey, fish, cattle and birds.

Analysing the risk of food security across 36 states in Nigeria, the index found that the Osun has the most stable food supplies according to the Food Security Risk Index in Nigeria and ranked first. The Food Security Risk Index (FSRI) measures the availability, stability and access to basic food stocks, as well as the impacts on nutrition and health that result from food insecurity. To provide an accurate picture of Nigerian food security, each state was rated on its performance across 19 key indicators. These include: agricultural imports, exports and production of cereals, food production per capita, rate of undernourishment per capita, water resources, GDP per capita and others.

Osun performs particularly well due to its massive ratio of food exports compared to imports and, despite the economic downturn, its continuing buying power. Osun is one of the states in Nigeria that have created food independence. With Osun rice, meat, garri, yam and others, the state has produced its own food and ranked first. There is ownership and control of local food in Osun. Governor Aregbesola has invested in policy and programme of farming to boost food security and this has helped to put the prices of food very low. Aregbesola’s intervention in agriculture has helped to restore food security which stopped the disappearance of small farms and the emergence of multinational farms.

 

To achieve its agricultural development objectives, Osun has designed and is implementing the Osun Rural Enterprise and Agriculture Program also known as O’REAP. Agriculture has been the main stay of Osun’s economy over the decades, especially since the giant strides made by the old Western Region Government. However, very little progress has been made over the years in building on this foundation to transform the economy of the state using agriculture as a driver. Due to a lack of focus in the agriculture sector, the gains achieved by the Western Region government have been gradually eroded. O’REAP is the state’s programme to achieve agriculture reformation and economic growth.

 

The state investment in agriculture sees to resuscitation of the moribund Cocoa Processing Company in Ede, which received a lifeline from Osun government partnering two Chinese firms. The cocoa products company is expected to create jobs and generate revenue for the state. ‎The two China-based companies -Skyron Corporation and Golden Monkey Group of Company – has since commenced production at the factory. David Shi, who led the Skyron group, said ‎the company has been in the business of cocoa processing in the last 10 years and that their firm is similar to that of Ede. Osun state cocoa farmers dominate cocoa farming in Edo State. They have more than 1000 cocoa farm camps in Edo State. The partnership with the government of Osun in reviving the cocoa project will end up being a win-win partnership project.

 

Oloba Farm Settlement, Iwo where 1,500 hectares of land have been acquired, and a 78-hectare cattle ranch established for the fattening of Cattle and Goats. The ranch has the capacity to produce 10,000 cattle amongst other animals being reared for meat production.

 

Recall that the government of Osun sent 40 youths to Germany to acquire modern agricultural techniques in 2015. Another set of 2,806 Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme, OYES cadet were also trained in modern agriculture practices at the O’REAP Youth Academy, Odua farmers Academy and Leventis foundation.

 

The Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has said that the O’REAP Youth Academy is more than a mere indication of its administration’s resolve to improve agricultural intervention programme but a way of banishing hunger and unemployment in Osun. He pointed out that a total of 610 O’YES cadets were trained last year at the O’REAP Youth Academy Farm Centres located across the nine Federal Constituencies in the state. The governor stressed that 20 participants were selected per local government and 10 from Ife East Area Office. He also added that this year’s edition of the O’REAP Youth Academy, witnessed a significant rise in the number of youth participants, noting that each of the 332 wards in the state is fairly represented with three O’YES Cadets per ward, amounting to 996 Cadets to be trained in modern agriculture at the nine training centres of the O’REAP Youth Academy.

 

According to Mr Governor, “some of those trained then have formed themselves into cooperatives and have also settled down for serious agricultural enterprises with meaningful financial support from the Quick Impact Intervention Programme (QIIP) of O’REAP and other micro-credit windows of the State Government of Osun. Aregbesola held that the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O’YES), its other component OYESTECH and O’REAP Youth Academy are some of the major platforms through which its administration is scaling down youth unemployment and profitably engaging our youths in the State.

 

Osun is the largest producer of cassava in the country. Increase the cultivation of arable crops such as maize, cassava, cowpea, vegetables, etc. for local consumption.  This will ensure that food is available in the state in sufficient quantity and at affordable prices. It also ensures that the state is adequately protected against natural disasters such as drought; food shortages; and the vagaries of the market place such as price inflation.

 

The Bees farm covered about 11.56 hectares of land that will not only produce honey in commercial quantities but will train at least 300 youths annually and by implication reduce unemployment among the youths of the state. The O’honey apiary project that the Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola embarked upon became a reality when it was commissioned at Oyan in Odo-Otin local government, the first of its kind in Black Africa.

 

 

Cattle ranch at Oloba Farm, Iwo farm settlement was revived by the government of Ogbeni Aregbesola who declared that the ranch is open to whosoever is interested in the cattle business and that his government will not only support the individual financially but guarantee security of lives and property at the ranch. It was the late sage Chief Bola Ige that established the ranch that was later abandoned by successive administrations.

 

It was this vision that made the government of Ogbeni Aregbesola to partner with the German government that sent a seven man experts drawn from their agricultural sector State of Saxson Anhalt to meet the farmers’ cooperatives in the state, soil scientists, animal husbandry experts and others on how to improve agricultural products in the state.

 

If the partnership sails through, it is expected to break the country’s reliance on imported rice, generate more income for the state and also create job opportunities for the populace of the state, as people from every part of the country would be coming into the state for Osun Rice. One of the farms in Songbe borders, near Ogbagba in Iwo area of the state, attested to the drive. The plan is to cultivate 450 hectares mainly for rice in the next three weeks, for the new planting season.  “The idea of the farm is to run an integrated farming system. There is a plan to build the processing plant, which is the second phase of the project for processing of rice paddy.

 

At Okuku in Odo-Otin local government council area of the state, the governor and the state executive council members were more than surprised to see a huge fish farm covering acres of land and with 120,000 fish under production and is now ready for sale, a product of the fish farm initiative of the administration.

 

The state Government of Osun is on the verge of becoming the hub for rice production in the Southwest, with its recent move to focus on rice cultivation, as part of its agricultural policies. The governor, Rauf Aregbesola, visited one of the major rice farms collaborating with the state government to produce Ofada Rice in the state.

 

As the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, marks its 50th anniversary, the institute recently inaugurated a new research station in Ago-Owu in Osun state, Nigeria, as part of efforts to expand its research agenda and create impact at farm level.

 

The Ago Owu research station is located in Ayedaade Local Government Area of Osun state, and will primarily serve as a research and training facility that will backstop the state’s agricultural programs and offer training support to the youth in the area in particular and Nigeria in general.

 

In 2015, Governor Rauf Aregbesola donated a piece of land measuring about 205.5 hectares to IITA as he sought to bring research closer to the people of the state with a view to creating transformational change in the agricultural sector of the state. The IITA accepted the offer with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding and began investment on the land with the development of roads and other infrastructure.

 

Governor Aregbesola said he was glad the MoU with IITA moved beyond paper to implementation. He commended IITA for its research efforts in the last 50 years, adding that the facility will advance research in Osun state with a spinoff effect on other parts of the country. “We believe that this research facility will train and empower our youth in modern agriculture

 

The inauguration of the research facility also allowed researchers to make presentations on new findings from cassava weed management, banana breeding and multiplication, cassava processing, and aflasafe—a technology for controlling aflatoxins among others. There was a presentation of improved seeds of maize, cowpea, soybean, yam, plantain seedlings, and cassava stems for onward distribution to farmers in Osun state. IITA also gave the governor some quantities of Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags which provide simple, low-cost method of reducing post-harvest cowpea losses due to insects’ infestations.

 

The state of Osun under Governor Aregbesola is the first state in Nigeria to key into the German contribution to the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN), which provides loans to small and medium entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector. Osun is the first state in Nigeria to key into the establishment of an “Innovation Centre for the Agriculture and Food Sector” financed by the German Government in order to improve sustainable production and processing of food as well as entrepreneurial and vocational skills in agriculture and food processing. The state is the first state in Nigeria to key into Germany-Nigeria agricultural cooperation in the establishment of a “Green Credit Line”, which shall improve the access of small and medium enterprises to funds in order to enable them to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Food security became a critical issue in Nigeria. The World Bank estimates that about 100 million people are facing deeper poverty due to higher food prices.

“Food security is a complex issue affected by a range of factors, including agricultural development and capacity, international trade flows, poverty and income distribution, foreign aid, as well as macroeconomic policies and government programmes on nutrition and food fortification. Added to these are the impacts of global population growth and climate change. Both the public and private sectors will increasingly be called upon to mitigate risk from food security, in order to maintain a stable societal context conducive to development.

Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City, Edo State

 

How Strategic Intervention Eliminated Over 200, 000 Out Of School Children In Osun State

By Inwalomhe Donald 

Osun State under Governor Aregbesola can now boast of recording the highest school children enrolment rate in Nigeria and the least state with lowest number of Out of School Children, OOSC, in Nigeria according to the National Bureau of Statistics. It took determination and strategic intervention to eliminate out of school children in Osun State.

Aregbesola’s strategic intervention of providing a meal per day for primary school students and free education did the magic which have increased elementary school enrolment in Osun State. Historically, the Federal Government of Nigeria initiated the Home Grown School Feeding and Health Programme (HGSFHP) through the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act, in 2004 but the scheme failed and it was re-introduced by Governor Aregbesola of Osun State.

In 2009, a large number of school-aged children in Osun were not attending school, and that posed a serious threat to achieving attendance goals laid out as part of Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Like many developing countries, Nigeria is facing serious challenges related to the phenomenon of out of school children.

Recent estimates show that the sub-Saharan Africa region accounts for 52% of the global out-of-school children. 22% of primary school age children in sub-Saharan African were out-of-school. Nigeria’s Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) data for 2016 in fact show that some 15.3 million children of primary school age were out of school and North East Nigeria accounting for more than 50 percent. When the junior secondary school component is taken into account, the out of school children (OOSC) problem becomes even larger, with wide regional, geographical and gender disparities across the country.  Even when enrolled, hundreds of children (especially girls) are not showing up for class. Although girls’ primary school attendance has generally been improving, this has not been the case for girls from the poorest households.

Osun State Government under Ogbeni Aregbesola has been responding through a number of strategic interventions intended to improve enrolment by addressing the issue of accessibility. Efforts are made to improve retention and achievement by improving quality, and reducing inequalities by paying greater attention to gender sensitive and inclusive policies, as well instituting more effective education management systems. Accessibility is being addressed through increased number of schools within reach of populations. Other remedial measures include provision for teacher development, making education more easily affordable, flexible programmes for children from rural communities, reduction of socio-cultural barriers and the introduction of social welfare measures.

The Osun government’s effort in the education sector has removed dilapidated school buildings and introduced conducive learning environment. Of the 100 Elementary Schools, 50 Middle Schools and 20 High Schools in the infrastructure upgrade under the first phase, government has successfully commissioned 20 Elementary Schools, 22 Middle Schools, and 7 High Schools.

The Elementary Schools have over 2000 classrooms of standard dimensions, with capacity for over 300,000 pupils between ages 6-and 9 per school, who enjoy free books, free mid-day meals and de-worming vaccines that address micronutrient deficiencies, and improve their nutritional status. And the Middle Schools, for pupils within age range of 10-14years from 3-4 kilometers catchment radius, have standard classrooms, with capacity for 900-1000 pupils per school; while high school(s), for students of 15-17years of age, have capacity for 3,000 students per school at 1,000 students per wing

Osun is taking the lead in the number of students enrolment in Nigeria, including female student, across the country. A report by the National Bureau of Statistics in Wikipedia puts Osun children’s in primary school enrolment between 70 to 80 percent. More children in Osun State are entering school and the gender gap is quickly closing as more girls make their way  to the classroom. In the 2012/2013 school year to date, the overall rate of children enrolled in primary school was 95.2 per cent (95.8 per cent for boys and 94.6 per cent for girls), showing that the gender gap at primary level has essentially been eliminated. However, these gains are undermined by persistent challenges that affect a child’s ability to stay in school. While Osun children are filling the seats in primary schools, completion rates for primary, and particularly lower secondary education, are low.

Before Aregbesola’s administration poverty pushes many  students out of school as many parents, especially in rural areas, cannot afford the direct and indirect costs related to education and families often require children to help at home with chores and field work. Lack of quality of education in schools, leading to high rates of repetition, also contributes to high dropout rates, particularly at the primary school level. Before now, Osun has witnessed low enrolment turn out in primary schools until the debut of Elementary School Feeding and Health programme of the present administration. The programme, no doubt spurs a great deal of parents and pupils into enrolling in public school in large numbers and this explains why the state towers above other states across the country.

Governor Aregbesola’s strategic plans have eliminated over 200,000 out of school children in Osun and ensured that the strategic planning process is an important form of accountability and public involvement. The process ensures Osun Education works to develop a curriculum, instruction, and assessment consistently focused on state standards and student achievement goals. The planning process allows all stakeholders including Partners like you – teachers, administrators, students, parents, and community leaders – the occasion to discuss their vision for the education of their children and the best methods for achieving that vision. The plan serves as a guide for all members of the community aimed at providing a coherent, comprehensive, and logical progression of curriculum and instruction and assessment. All stakeholders, then, can determine how their work fits into the plan and how they can support schools and students in their efforts to achieve their goals.

No fewer than 200,000 children of school age have been enrolled in public elementary schools in the state of Osun since 2013/2014 academic session to date. Osun state was ranked second state in 2009 with highest number of out of school children in the federation but today stands as best in elementary school enrolment in Nigeria following the introduction of these education oriented programmes and increase in the state government’s investment in education.

Osun is ranked 34th among the thirty-six states of the federation in terms of federal allocation did not deter Aregbesola’s administration from fulfilling his electioneering campaign promises to the people of the state, said actualization of his six point integral action plan have positively impacted on lives of people of the state.

According to Governor Aregbesola, there must be a functional education for the children of the state. The quality, sound education for the children has to take place within modern facilities. What exists in Osun in terms of educational infrastructure development is not symbolism but substance.

More than 12,000 teachers have been added to the already existing pool of teachers across the schools in the state. It is not just about physical infrastructure; the human infrastructural is also seriously taken into cognisance, for no educational system can rise above the quality of the teachers.

Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City

Osun And Sachsen-Anhalt: Lessons The Osun- Germany Agricultural Cooperation, By Inwalomhe Donald

Let me start by explaining that the State of Osun -Sachsen-Anhalt agricultural cooperation is a platform to tackle agricultural challenges and increase the potentials and viability of agri-business in Nigeria, starting with Osun State.

This cooperation is to help synergize on technologies, techniques and human resources in Osun.

Now, The State of Osun under Governor Aregbesola is the first state in Nigeria to key into the German contribution to the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN), which provides loans to small and medium entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector.

The State of Osun under Governor Aregbesola is the first state in Nigeria to key into the establishment of an “Innovation Centre for the Agriculture and Food Sector” financed by the German Government in order to improve sustainable production and processing of food as well as entrepreneurial and vocational skills in agriculture and food processing.

The State of Osun under Governor Aregbesola is the first state in Nigeria to key into Germany-Nigeria agricultural cooperation in the establishment of a “Green Credit Line”, which shall improve the access of small and medium enterprises to funds in order to enable them to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Recall Aregbesola led a delegation to Germany a while back, in search of new insights on modern agriculture to further realise the dream of making Osun the food basket of the South-West. The true story now is that the governor, within the space of time did not only employ over 20,000 youths of the state in agribusiness but is currently on a mission to revolutionize farming and empower the people to kick out poverty. Thus, the rationalization of poverty on paucity of fund has now been exposed as a product of misapplication of resources.

The State of Osun’s recent attempts to encourage investment are prompting some foreign firms and Nigerian entrepreneurs to look more closely at the profitability of agribusiness. Perhaps more important in the long term, there also appears to have been a significant shift in the pattern of foreign involvement, back to direct investment in agriculture in Osun State.

The Agro-investment initiative of Governor Aregbesola is an emblem of hope that will make the youths in the state embrace agriculture again; this move will also create massive employment opportunities for Osun people. Sachsen-Anhalt involvement in Osun State agriculture is undoubtedly accelerating. The climate for foreign investment is becoming more amenable as the Nigerian economy is restructured under the watchful eye of the IMF, World Bank and international banks despite the lack of a formal agreement.

When the Governor and his formidable team went to Germany in search of knowledge, and in furtherance of the development cooperation and in support of the Osun Rural Enterprise and Agriculture Programme (O-REAP), the trip was an opportunity for the delegation to:
i. Attend the International Green Week programme with Governor Rauf Aregbesola as the Special Guest of Honour. Dr. Reiner Haseloff, the Minister President of Sachsen Anhalt; Prof. Claudia Dalbert, the State Minister of Agriculture and Dr. Hermann OnkoAeikens, State Secretary, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Federal Republic of Germany, all attended the programme, met and engaged relevant investors and partners with interests in agricultural investment and partnership opportunities in the State of Osun

ii. Review and expand on the scope of existing Development Cooperation between the State of Osun and Sachsen Anhalt

iii. Design the next phase of collaborative partnerships between the State of Osun and Sachsen Anhalt

iv. Meet and discuss agricultural potentials, investment and partnership opportunities in Osun with German farmers who had hosted 40 young farmers from Osun over a period of four years, starting in 2012 as they were exposed to knowledge, skills and technologies in practical modern agriculture. The Osun delegation also met with the umbrella Farmers Association of the State of Sachsen Anhalt. At the meeting, a number of farmers in Germany expressed their interest in the proposed farmer technology transfer programme that is being planned in collaboration with the State Government of Sachsen Anhalt.

v. Discuss the planned cooperation between the State Governments of Osun and Sachsen-Anhalt in setting up of ‘Best Practice Demonstration, Training and Production Farm’ in the State of Osun. The Farm is to target the youth and other farmers and will provide the platform for the acquisition of knowledge, skills and techniques in modern agriculture with a focus on land development and management, new technologies in crops, livestock, fisheries, post-harvest handling, processing and packaging.

The establishment of the Best Practice Demonstration, Training and Production Farm’ in the State of Osun will build on these initial efforts and create an even more cost-effective and sustainable model of cooperation that will allow for broader scale impact. This will allow the State of Osun to extend benefits to many hundreds of equally motivated and needy young farmers who would not have the opportunity of being attached to host farmers or institutions in Germany.

The Best Practice Demonstration, Training and Production Farm is to serve as a veritable platform to anchor a well-designed farmer exchange programme that will provide the opportunity for German agricultural experts and farmers to provide technological transfer and capacity building to farmers in Osun.

This new collaboration is building on the initial outcomes of the cooperation with the State of Sachsen-Anhalt under which 40 budding young farmers from Osun have been hosted in Germany for advanced practical training in different aspects of agriculture over the past four years with the resultant engaging opportunities for young farmers in our state as they launch promising careers in modern and productive agriculture inspired by their exposure in Sachsen-Anhalt.

The 40 young farmers who were involved in the development cooperation programme in Germany are back in Osun and are now involved in different aspects of agriculture including cattle and production of small ruminant, piggery, horticulture and greenhouse farming in different parts of the State.

Other highlights of the trip included planning meetings between the Osun delegation with top officials of the Ministry of Agriculture of the State of Sachsen Anhalt and members of the State of Sachsen-Anhalt Parliament. These meetings were aimed at consolidating as well as expanding the current cooperation between both parties.

Notably and following on the heels of the impressive outcomes recorded from the cooperation with the State of Sachsen Anhalt in the last four years in the area of agriculture, the cooperation is now being expanded to the area of healthcare delivery. Presently, there’s a team of seasoned German oncologists from the Institute for Operative Medicine of the Otto-yon Guericke-University, Magdeburg, Germany, in Osun. This is to perfect plans on collaborative efforts on control, treatment and management of various classes of cancer in the State.

The State of Osun’s agricultural programme is gradually yielding desired results as the good people of the state are being empowered through land preparation and free distribution, credits for improved seedlings, fertilizer, etc. and commercial production of honey, fish, cattle and birds. The O’honey apiary project that the Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola embarked upon became a reality when it was commissioned at Oyan in Odo-Otin local government, the first of its kind in Black Africa.

It was this vision that made the government of Ogbeni Aregbesola to partner with the German government that sent a seven-man team of experts drawn from the agric sector of the State of Saxson Anhalt to meet with farmers’ cooperatives, soil scientists, animal husbandry experts and others on how to improve agricultural products in Osun.

Inwalomhe Donald, public affairs analyst writes from Benin City, Edo State. He is available via [email protected]

By Inwalomhe DonaldOpon Imo: Real Reason WAEC Honoured Aregbesola, By Inwalomhe Donald

Governor Aregbesola has been honoured by WAEC for taking the lead in digital education in Nigeria. This truly is a tremendous opportunity for Aregbesola to help more Osun students get access to quality education. In the new global economy, digital education is an increasingly important part of education, and Aregbesola looks forward to guiding efforts to further expand the reach and breadth of digital education and its courses throughout Nigeria.

No country can develop where merit and excellence are not sufficiently recognized. 2012 t0 2017 provided a period to assess Governor Aregbesola. WAEC’s endorsement of Aregbesola Opon Imo is an award for excellence and good governance which is a sober effort to recognize and fete merit and excellence in education in Nigeria. Today, Governor Aregbesola lays no claim to sainthood or any special Solomon wisdom but it could hardly be denied that his passion for educational excellence, commitment for human development singled him out for recognition of merit and make him a model for emulation by many because he laid the foundation for digital education in Nigeria.

Governor Aregbesola has proven that when there is palpable decline of faith in Nigeria, his sheer energy and imagination represent beacons of hope. WAEC endorsement of Opon Imo is a veritable reward for excellence and recognition of integrity in governance. The endorsement is a celebration of AREGBESOLA’S innovation and creativity in Nigeria.

Last week, West African Examination Council, WAEC, endorsed Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s policies, especially in the education sector. Delivering a frame of endorsement to the governor on Friday, 3rd February, 2017, Head of the Nigeria National Office of the council, Mr. Olutise Isaac Adenipekun, who led a delegation of the national management of WAEC to the Governor’s office in Osogbo, said Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s interventions in education is “second to none” in Nigeria.

Adenipekun said, “The ongoing revolution in the infrastructural re-engineering of the school complexes in the state of Osun has also caught the attention of all stakeholders in the education sector in Nigeria and beyond.

“The immense contribution of the state government in the development of infrastructural facilities in schools, in particular, the “Mega Schools Project” is remarkable. It is in fact second to none in Nigeria”, he stressed.

Adenipekun said Osun has contributed significantly towards enhancing Information and Communication Technology, ICT required in education sector which according to him remains the prerequisite to development of quality education in the country. Adenipekun, who recommended the Tablet of Knowledge to other states of the federation said the initiative had contributed towards educational development.

He described the innovation as a tool of educational revolution, breakthrough aimed at enhancing and encouraging the process of teaching and learning through the use of innovative technology.

“We are particularly proud of the landmark achievement and the major breakthrough of the current administration in Osun most significantly in education sector by the introduction of the ground breaking ‘Tablet of Knowledge’ also known as “Opon Imo” to students of the state at secondary level.

“As we commend the efforts of Mr. Governor on the landmark achievement and major breakthrough of his administration in education most importantly on the widely applauded ‘Tablet of Knowledge’ which had improved and encouraged teaching and learning, we equally recommend other states to key into this initiative so as to improve the education sector,” he added.

Governor Aregbesola who described “the Tablet of Knowledge” as a panacea to education revolution, said the state had recorded national and international awards on the initiative. Commending WAEC for maintaining education standards in the country, Governor Aregbesola said the examination body had contributed tremendously in raising the standards of education in the West African sub-region.

Whether critics like it or not, Governor Aregbesola has laid foundation and remain the pioneer of digital education in Nigeria and he represents agent of change as far as digital education is concerned in Nigeria.

History of Digital Education will remember Governor Aregbesola as the first Nigerian to implement UNESCO 2011 recommendation on digital education. Nigerians need to visit Osun Sukuk Schools, Middle Schools and Elementary Schools. Governor Aregbesola has undertaken to build and equip schools with computer classrooms and training teachers to use digital media in education.

In this line, Opon Imo “local content’’ in digital education has allowed teachers to use tablets to teach students. In the history of Nigeria, Governor Aregbesola will be remembered to be first leader to introduce digital education. Like India, Osun State is working to improve on Opon Imo. Truth is, years to come Governor Aregbesola will be remembered as part of digital education in Nigeria.

About 33 states in Nigeria are presently working on how to introduce digital education by using Osun model of Opon Imo. Through Opon-Imo, all books, laboratories and study materials needed by students have been catered for.

Governor Aregbesola promised that there would be no need of students buying books and other study materials. The tablet of knowledge, indeed, serves this purpose.

[email protected], www.inwalomhedonald.com.ng

Opon Imo: How Aregbesola Laid Foundation For Digital Education In Nigeria, By Inwalomhe Donald

Much has been written about the role technology played in bringing social and political change across much of Africa, but less is known about the technological revolution that is taking place and transforming people’s lives in the State of Osun, Nigeria. This deep and rapid mobile penetration is catapulting the State of Osun school children into the 21st century and bringing new and previously unimagined opportunities. African schools and universities are now exploring the use of mobile technology to assist teaching.

Whether critics like it or not, Governor Aregbesola has laid the foundation and remains the pioneer of digital education in Nigeria and he represents an agent of change as far as digital education is concerned in Nigeria. The history of Digital Education will remember Governor Aregbesola as the first Nigerian to implement the UNESCO recommendation on digital education. Nigerians need to visit Osun Sukuk Schools, Middle Schools and Elementary Schools. Governor Aregbesola has undertaken to build and equip schools with computer classrooms and training teachers to use digital media in education. In this line, Opon Imo “local content’’ in digital education has allowed teachers to use tablets to teach students. In the history of Nigeria, Governor Aregbesola will be remembered as the first leader to introduce digital education. Like India, the State of Osun is working to improve on Opon Imo. In years to come, Governor Aregbesola will be remembered as a pioneer of digital education in Nigeria.

About 33 states in Nigeria are presently working on how to introduce digital education by using Osun model of Opon Imo. Opon-Imo, is indeed the first digital education revolution in Nigeria. Through Opon-Imo books, libraries, virtual laboratories and study materials of Osun schools are introduced and made available to students. Governor Aregbesola promised that there would be no need of students buying books and other study materials. The tablet of knowledge, indeed, served that purpose. The way secondary school students operate and interact with each other has drastically changed with the advent of OPON IMO, the first digital education revolution in Nigeria. Over the years, the impact of technology has been profound, not just in terms of making our lives easier, but also in terms of our approach to the way we carry out tasks, solve problems and resolve issues.

There is no doubt that Governor Aregbesola understands the role that technology can play in realising the vision for Nigeria’s growth – it is at the core of the Opon Imo and a key driver across all plans devised by the State Government of Osun over the last six years. The government recognizes the transformative power of technology and sees it as an enabler for the change that we all seek – be it in delivering better citizen services, digitising education records, efficient and productive functioning, or using technology to provide a new social security platform

Until recently many students in Osun had never touched a tablet computer. But it took them about “one minute to work out how to use one when such devices arrived at Osun schools. Osun students were no slower to embrace the new tool. Teaching used to be conducted with a blackboard and a handful of tattered textbooks. Now children swipe the touch screen of the devices, which are loaded with a multimedia version of Nigeria’s syllabus.

The prospect of many of Africa’s 300m pupils that want digital education has not escaped the attention of global technology giants either. A bigger question is whether digital tools will actually improve education. Early results are encouraging. In Osun, reading skills improved measurably among school children. In Osun, researchers found that even in the absence of teachers, children figured out how to use tablets provided to them by the State Government, to teach themselves to read.

As we transit towards knowledge driven economies, the need to build human capacity to gain competitive advantage has become a front burner issue for developed and developing nations. This situation is seen as more critical for developing nations which hold the majority of the world’s uneducated and have suffered decades of education infrastructure neglect.

To reverse this situation, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) timelines, developing nations will need more than orthodox initiatives to bridge the huge learning gap. The use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) appears to be one of such promising innovative means of democratising access and improving the quality of learning.

The State Government of Osun, under the leadership of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, in its resolve to champion inspiring innovations for Africa, has undertaken a ground breaking step to utilise ICTs to concisely tackle the learning problem through the Opón Ìmò Initiative.

The State, through its Opón Ìmò Technology Enhanced Learning System (OTELS), has developed a learning tool that could revolutionize learning in developing states around the world. This tool is called the Opón Ìmò, “Tablet of Knowledge”.

The digital revolution has hit education, with more and more classrooms plugged into the whole wired world. But are schools making the most of new technologies? Are they tapping into the learning potential of today’s Firefox/Facebook/cell phone generation? Have schools fallen through the crack of the digital divide? This groundbreaking tool offers a vision for the future of the State of Osun’s education that goes well beyond the walls of the classroom to include distance learning with “anytime, anywhere” access, digital home schooling models.

Opon-Imo (Tablet of Knowledge), an e-learning device which solved educational needs of Senior Secondary School students of Osun State, introduced by Governor Rauf Aregbesola, have become one of the biggest known digital initiative in Osun’s educational history and Nigeria. Opon Imo has solve the educational needs of the state and cut cost in the sector as promised by Aregbesola upon its inauguration, the project has solved the major educational problems of the state, leaving with it huge progress that the state had battled with for a long time.

On Tuesday June 4, 2013, Governor Aregbesola, in a speech entitled, ‘Opon-Imo Enters the Stage’ had told the people of Osun, “It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all and to be here myself for this epoch-making event in the annals of this state…Today in the State of Osun, we are taking another momentous leap forward in our unflinching and unstoppable effort to lay a solid foundation for the education of our children. “The much-awaited Opon-Imo has finally arrived. The smart computer tablet has entered the education scene, to the glory of Almighty God, and to the victory of the public school students of Osun, but to the utter bewilderment of ill-meaning cynics, whose ardent wish is for the project to fail. Unfortunately for them, God has a different plan for Osun and for its good people.”

“This initiative, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, covers 17 core subjects with over five extra curricula subjects for senior secondary 1, 2 and 3 levels. The tablet contains over 56 textbooks, 900 minutes of virtual classroom lessons and 1000s (Thousands) of practice questions for WAEC and JAMB. In addition to aiding preparation for School Leaving Examinations, the introduction of the tool is expected to aid adoption of information communication technology (ICT) skills among students in the state,”

The typical Osun classroom like Indian classroom was once characterized by students sitting through hour-long teacher monologues. Now, technology is making life easier for both students and educators. Schools are increasingly adopting digital teaching solutions to engage with a generation of pupils well-versed with the likes of tablets and iPads, and trying to make the classroom environment more inclusive and participatory.

Governor Aregbesola has observed that in line with Osun’s increasing interest in technology for school education, there has been a rush of education-focused tablet computers in the market. It aims to eliminate digital illiteracy by distributing the Opon Imo tablets to students across Osun at free rates. While the project itself has become successful, it has generated a lot of awareness and interest among students around the educational tablet.

Aregbesola had observed “Digital learning facilitated through tablets will revolutionize the educational space,” He has invested in developing content and services targeted toward tablet audiences. To start with, he offered Osun school curriculum-learning modules, and at home live products on the opon imo. Students can now have access to good teachers, educational content and a great learning experience anytime, anywhere.”

But even as schools in Osun are going through this transformation powered by technology, one key question is how big a role technology will play in the education sector. Technology plays a critical role in all these. Despite numerous studies on the impact of ICT in education, the outcomes remain difficult to measure and open to much debate. It needs to be understood that technology is only an enabler and a force multiplier and cannot be treated as a panacea. We believe that impressive gains in teaching-learning outcomes are possible only through an integrated approach like Opon Imo intervention.