How QCQAM revived education in Cross River, by Offiong
Not too long ago, the state was in the infamous league of educationally backward states. Its performances in national examinations organised by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO) among others, lend credence to this.
The malaise was further exemplified by the fact that most primary four and five pupils could barely read coherently, just as writing simple sentences was equally an arduous task. Secondary schools on their part became centres for illicit acquisition of grades, as some school principals, teachers and proprietors aided and abetted examination malpractices.
With dilapidated infrastructures and broken down appurtenances a regular sight in most public schools, well-meaning parents had no option than to migrate their children and wards to private schools.
“The situation was horrible, and with the support of the out gone governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, we needed to do something sweeping about it,” recalled immediate past Education Commissioner in the state, Professor Offiong Offiong.
Presenting the state’s scorecard in the education sector vis-à-vis the strategy adopted to halt the entrenched drift and revive the system, Offiong during a briefing captioned, “We have transformed education in Cross River State” said, “Quality Control and Quality Assurance Measures” (QCQAM) came to the rescue.
QCQAM was introduced into education in the state through some initiatives aimed at checking the quality of education delivery at primary and secondary school levels.
Some the initiatives were; read and write campaign; compulsory 2pm to 4pm prep for examination classes; holiday programmes for examination classes; computerisation of continuous assessment; examination malpractice eradication project, production of government textbooks in all subject areas in primary and secondary schools (which were sold at subsidised rates); annual retraining of teachers institutionalised and further training for science and mathematics teachers.
Others include; development of minimum standard for establishment of schools; re-accreditation of private schools in the state, strengthening of inspectorates services from local government education authorities, zonal level and ministry headquarters with more personnel and provision of 25 Hilux vehicles and strengthening of community/stakeholder participation.
Offiong said, “QCQAM coupled with conducive learning environment in many of our schools, have significantly boosted the quality of education in the state. The performance of the state in WAEC’s West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) has improved from five per cent in pre-2007 examination to 56.6 per cent and 50.3 per cent in 2012 and 2013 respectively, moving from 29th position in pre-2007 to 7th and 6th positions in 2012 and 2013 respectively. At the same time the state was de-listed from examination malpractice prevalent states.”
In spite of the challenge of funding, the then Senator Imoke-led administration, according to the commissioner made conscious efforts to develop infrastructure in schools to aid learning and drive up enrolment figures.
He said at the primary level, “17 additional primary schools were established in inaccessible communities to bring the numbers of primary schools from 1,016 in 2007 to 1,033 in 2015. We have addressed the challenge of our pupils being unable to read and write even at primary four. Now, many pupils start reading and writing at primary two. Primary school enrolment has also increased from 223, 200 in 2007 to 295,973 in 2015, which represents a 32.47 per cent increase.”
He explained that the increase in enrolment was followed with “a corresponding expansion in infrastructure through the Universal Basic Education (UBE) intervention. Thus, the numbers of classrooms have increased from 6,113 to 9,689 and in the process over 300 primary schools have been comprehensively renovated with the recruitment of 1, 245 teachers in collaboration with the Federal Teachers Scheme.”
At the secondary level, he explained that “access to qualitative education has been expanded through the comprehensive renovation of 60 secondary schools under phase one of the Cross River State Standard Initiative (and) the schools now have adequate classrooms, four laboratories – for Chemistry, Physics, Biology and ICT, staff rooms, libraries, assembly/examination halls complemented with recreational facilities.
“The four laboratories in each of the 60 secondary schools have been furnished/equipped while 17,998 dual desks and 1, 750 teacher’s tables and chairs have been provided.
To accommodate the increase in students’ enrolment from 93, 149 in 2007 to 143, 644, he said, “additional 18 schools were established by government. Moreover, there was an increase in the number of secondary schools from 248 in 2007 to 265 in 2015.”
As a way of demonstrating its willingness to ensure that no child is denied the opportunity of proving his/herself at the end of their secondary education, Offiong said the state government spent over N1bn to register its students for WASSCE between 2007 and now… The sum of N184m was spent on the registration for 2015 to further expand access and reduce the rate of drop outs from schools, enhance completion rate and bring succour to parents.”
In its bid to expand access to tertiary education, the Imoke administration re-established the State College of Education in Akamkpa in 2008, established the Institute of Technology and Management (ITM) as well as increased the number of programmes in the Cross River State University of Technology from 23 in 2007 to 39 presently.
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