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.
- Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City ([email protected])