By Peter Dada
A former governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, has called on governments at all levels to be committed to the basic education of Nigerian children.
Aregbesola recalled that during his tenure as the governor of Osun, he undertook some programmes and policies to revolutionalise basic education in the state.
He, however, expressed regrets that his successor, Gboyega Oyetola, scrapped the programmes.
The immediate-past Minister of Interior stated this on Saturday, in Akure, during a ‘Welcome Home’ reception organised for him by members of the Old Students’ Association of Akoko Anglican Grammar School, Arigidi Akoko, Ondo State, of which he is a member.
Aregbesola said, “All governments must know that no matter how attractive private schools may be, they will never be able to displace government-funded public foundation education schools, if we really want to provide education to all the children and stimulate development from bottom up. It is a dream we must never give up on.
“When I became governor in Osun, I sought to replicate this idea. Our administration built 11 state-of-the-art 3,000-capacity model secondary schools, in addition to rehabilitating and upgrading the existing ones.
“Each school has 72 classrooms, which can each comfortably accommodate 49 students and six rooms for study groups. It was equipped with six laboratories, 36 toilets separated equally for boys and girls, two libraries for science and arts each, facility manager’s office, a bookshop and a sickbay.
“We introduced ‘Opon Imo’ (the tablet of knowledge), a digital education tool, ethics and discipline in public schools and even established a state-wide agency on public school discipline.
“We introduced calisthenics and school feeding and a health programme. The first one we put into use was the Wole Soyinka Government High School in Ejigbo, in 2015. By the time we left in 2018, 11 were fully operational. With each school graduating 1,000 students every year and a combined output of 11,000, we should have not less than 44,000 world beaters now, if the programme had been sustained. These schools were designed to produce world beaters and the fruits were already coming out.
“A student from our school topped the Senior Secondary School Examination while another topped UTME shortly after we left. But our successor, regrettably, couldn’t continue with the tempo.”
The ex-minister hailed all the teachers who taught him at Akoko Anglican Grammar School, the school principals and the ex-students of the school, describing them as stars who deserved greater celebrations.
In her remarks, the National President of the AKOGRAMS, Mrs Moji Ajayi, commended Aregbesola for contributing to the development of the country and the association.
She said the old students’association had carried out various infrastructural projects in their alma mater.