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No cost too much for quality education – Gov Eno

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Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Pastor Umo Eno has vowed that no cost would be too much to give the children of the state quality education.

“If I can get one Akwa Ibom child motivated with our education exchange with the United Kingdom, I would have succeeded,” Eno said while expressing resolve to ensure that every Akwa Ibom student gets not only free but quality education.

To achieve this, the governor recently cemented an education exchange deal with the Mayor of London Borough of Southwark, Micheal Situ, in his government house office, when the latter came for a working visit with a delegation from the United Kingdom.

The exchange has placed the benefitting students and even the teachers on a vantage position to explore the opportunities abroad.

Though the project could be cost sapping considering the present economic realities and volatile exchange rates, the governor insisted that human capital development and the benefits for Akwa Ibom children outweighs the cost.

Pmnews.ng learnt that the programme would open up opportunities for the students of both nationalities as they would have the privilege to exchange curriculum, culture, sports and learn peculiar educational and vocational studies.

During the signing of the exchange bond, Mayor Situ had told Gov Eno that the aim of the visit was to seek areas of partnership.

While revealing that schools in the London Borough of Southwark that have been intimated about the exchange programme were already excited about it, he expressed optimism that the people of Southwark, especially those of African descent, will be excited to also have an opportunity to visit Akwa Ibom.

He said the programme would create an avenue for interactions in culture, sport, and other areas of interest.

Education Commissioner, Mrs Idongesit Etiebet, speaking on the programme, disclosed that, “arrangements have been finalised by the State government for commencement of the exchange programme that will enable successful students from public schools in the village to travel to London for the programme.”

In readiness for the execution of the programme, Akwa Ibom State government has selected about 31 brilliant but poor indigenes in the public secondary schools across the state to travel to the United Kingdom for studies.

This was part of the fulfilment of Gov. Eno’s Educational Advancement initiative as contained in his ARISE agenda where he promised to bolster existing free and compulsory education in the state.

The governor has also attempted using the programme to woo and encourage students to work hard, take their studies seriously and shun all forms of social vices, saying that it was only the bright students that were selected for the programme after rigorous examinations.

According to him, “the reason for this programme is for the brilliant child in a public school in the village who didn’t even think of it or have hope of going to the airport, to have the opportunity of sitting on a 6-7 hours flight to arrive the UK and you tell him this ‘just the beginning, if you take your education more seriously, it can take you to any part of the world and you can sit on the table with anyone.

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“That’s the catch for me. If I can get one Akwa Ibom child motivated with that, I would have succeeded, so I take this as a project.”

Expressing optimism that the exchange programme would be mutually beneficial to the two communities, the governor assured that every child and member of staff that will leave the UK, will return.

“I can guarantee in our honour that every child and member of staff that will leave to the UK, will return. That is the commitment I make because we hope this to be a continuous thing,” the governor assured.

To also show how the project was dear to the state government, it went ahead to organise a two-day workshop on Education Skills Upscaling for principals of public secondary schools in Uyo to prepare them for the task ahead.

The facilitator of the training, David Bromfield, from the United Kingdom tasked principals of Akwa Ibom public secondary schools on quality leadership in education and effective curriculum inspection, insisting that as leaders in education, the principals must be aware of the numerous factors that come into play when effecting a change.

He noted that proper curriculum inspection and monitoring were necessary because it was not enough for school heads to rely on students’ scores to determine the implementation of the curriculum by the teachers as numbers could be misleading.

He added, “There are two types of curriculum inspection, the graded and the non-graded. These two are done differently and for different goals.

“However, the common factor is vital assessment. What is taught must be assessed. You may not be able to check everything but just check. Without checking, chances are that educational policies or curriculum may not be implemented as intended.”

On the way forward for education, it was recommended at the training that the government should establish an Institute for Policy Research, empower teachers, and commit to stable, multi-year funding, among others.

Akwa Ibom State Chairman of the All-Nigeria Conference of Principals of Public Schools (ANCOPPS), Mr. Stephen Akpabio on his part expressed confidence that public schools would perform better if they applied all they learnt at the workshop, adding that the quality of teaching in the schools would be upgraded.

He said, “Now that the London model which is effective has been brought to Akwa Ibom, there is no doubt that in a matter of time, education in Akwa Ibom will become as good as it is in London.

“This workshop has opened our eyes to new ways to go about our job. There is no way our schools won’t perform better as a result of this engagement.”

In her remarks, Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Idongesit Etiebet noted that the essence of the exchange programme was to allow participants to learn and embrace global best practices in education delivery, urging the school heads to make judicious use of the knowledge they’ve acquired during the workshop for policy formulation and implementation.

The Commissioner for Information, Comrade Ini Ememobong on his part noted that the workshop was a step to opening many vistas of development in the education sector of the state.

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Ememobong, a co-facilitator of the workshop commended Governor Eno for the opportunity provided for the school administrators to share experiences with Mr. Bromfield, whom he thanked for setting aside his 61st birthday celebration just to ensure the programme succeeded.

Meanwhile, Mayor Situ alongside his delegation also visited the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi Esan to intimate her about the education exchange partnership.

The Head of Service of the Federation, who described the initiative as a welcome development noted that “education for all is a responsibility for all”.

“For us, we want to do everything possible to ensure that our citizens at all levels are well educated believing in its efficacy to emancipate people and make them contribute positively to societal development,” she added.

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