It is pertinent to advise political leaders to cultivate the habit of generating raw data for analysis with respect to planning and setting up of priority since governance is a very serious business. Governance cannot be divorced from statistics, planning and priority setting so as to address the basic needs, yearnings and aspirations of the masses.
It is a high time state governors refrained from policy pronouncements to gain instant praises only to come up with cock and bull stories for inability to live up to the expectations of the people.
It is against this background that the Governor of Imo State, Chief Rochas Okorocha’s pronouncement of free education, scholarship and loan to primary school pupils and students in secondary and institutions of higher learning could be seen as sheer grandstanding and preposterous benefit of planning based on data and statistical analysis.
In its editorial titled: “Imo State free education policy”, The Guardian March 23, 2012 revealed that the Governor would from September 2012 give each school pupils N25,000 every year; N100 every day for each secondary school student, N80,000 scholarship in addition to N20,000 as loan to students in Imo State University; N60,000 and N20,000, respectively for scholarship and loan to students at the HND level; while N40,000 and N20,000 respectively for OND level students in the polytechnic.
The supposed loan to the students is expected to be repaid after graduation and having secured employment. It is ridiculous to expect that such loan will be paid back as it is devoid of any collateral basis.
There is no doubt that the Governor has a vision about education in an emerging economy but he did not take due cognizance of the imperatives of planning and proper priority setting in view of the fact that education is a pillar of all round development. As a pillar of socio-economic growth and development, education should not be trivialized, it ought to be accorded top priority in development planning, policies, programmes and projects.
What is needed is a civilized and conducive template and environment for learning and skill acquisition, adequate with teaching and non-teaching staff, coupled with incentives to motivate them to put in their best in grooming the pupils and students to be well established in life.
There is no gain saying the fact that primary schools in the entire Igbo land are like animal dens having been built in the 1930s. Secondary schools fair no better as they are a mockery of institutions for capacity building.
The Governor should withdraw the non-feasible financial splashing and embark on comprehensive rehabilitation of the decrepit infrastructural facilities in the schools. Priority has to be accorded to recruitments of staff, provision of roads to the schools, building staff quarters and grant of motor cycle and car loans and allowances.
He may not complete the gargantuan projects even in eight years but would have laid a worthwhile foundation for sustainable development of education for his successor to continue. What is the essence of splashing pupils and students with money when the schools are eye sores, with primitive setting and dearth of staff, infrastructure and facilities, laboratory and library for acquisition of knowledge and skills?
Primary and secondary schools are very vital for human development and one can take off in life after a secondary school career in a civilized setting. Governor Okorocha can suspend succour to students in institutions of higher learning now since one who seeks admission knows the source of funding his or her career.
Government should see the provision of rural infrastructural facilities as one of the top priorities to ginger private sector initiatives and enterprises to drive the economy so as to create avenues for self-employment and eradication of poverty.
When civilized setting is seen in primary and secondary schools, government can then focus and shift attention to the institutions of higher learning and reposition them to be like ones in developed countries of the world.
Written by: POLYCARP ONWUBIKO