IMO: Effort To Revamp Public Schools Suffer Setback
THE 637 autonomous communities of the three senatorial zones (Imo East, Imo West and Imo North) in the 27 Local Councils of Imo state are blessed with public primary and secondary schools. However, their condition is another matter entirely; they are generally in poor shape.
Shortly, on assumption of office in May 29, 2011, the state governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, offered free education in line with his electioneering campaign to Imo sons and daughters, from primary, secondary to tertiary education. But, the task of putting the schools in good shape, conducive for learning was another matter.
He sought to rehabilitate the schools; provide learning materials such as chairs, desks, books and school uniforms.
Okorocha began the implementation of the rehabilitation of the schools by constructing twin storey–building in each of the 305 Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political wards of the state.
The construction started at the City Primary and Secondary Schools located at Wethdral Road, Owerri, by the Roche Construction outfit. The model, subsequently, was followed to build the ones in other wards of the state.
After the construction work, facilities to enhance learning were provided, though on a sad note and due to lack of adequate security facilities, most of the buildings in those communities have been vandalised.
The Executive Chairman of the Imo State Universal Basic Education (IMSUBEB), Mrs. Getrude Oduka, who expressed dismay on a visit to some monarchs in the communities, urged them to ensure that they are safeguarded. She regretted that about 70 of such facilities were damaged by hoodlums.
Okorocha also followed the policy with the free education policy implementation at the public schools. He claimed that he sacrificed his four billion-naira security vote to carry out such policy.
But not satisfied by the claim of the building projects, the immediate past Minister of State for Education, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, faulted the claim by Okorocha that his administration constructed the storey buildings, claiming that the Federal Government made the funds available to the states through the Universal Basic Education projects funds.
To ensure that his project was not obstructed, Okorocha ensured that teachers in the public schools were promptly paid. He also, in line with the directive of ensuring that teachers and civil servants appear clean, directed that they should wear black and white with red tie uniforms to their various classrooms and offices.
But the sustenance of the policy is threatened because teacher-motivation is low due to retired primary school teachers that are owed about 22 months pension. The teachers expressed fear of having to face the same ordeal.
But the governor has said that the delay in payment was due to alleged large-scale fraud in the pensions payment, adding that the verification exercises going on revealed that much.
At the moment, some of the twin storey buildings are yet to be completed. This is worsened by the sharp drop in revenue of the state, due to the decline in federal oil revenue. It is now a waiting game, when the structures would be completed, but Okorocha has stated that he would complete the projects before he lives office in 2019.
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