Education in Akwa Ibom State has no doubt received a boost since the inception of Udom Emmanuel, the Governor of the State in the last seven years. His administration has indeed made great strides in the sector.
At the federal level, several attempts have been made to revamp the education sector through various systems which had been introduced in the past.
The 6-3-3-4 system of education was introduced into the Nigerian educational system in 1983 as its primary objective was to meet the educational needs of Nigerians and equip its youths with sellable skills that will empower them to be self-reliant. The 6-3-3-4 system lasted for 25 years till 2008 when the Federal Government introduced the 9-3-4 system where the ‘9’ represents the number of years for basic education, the ‘3’ represents the number of years for secondary education, while the ‘4’ represents the number of years for tertiary education.
According to a UNESCO Report, 8.73 million elementary school-aged children in 2010 did not participate in education at all, making Nigeria the country with the highest number of out-of-school children in the world. Stakeholders in the sector have identified some issues plaguing the education sector including; corruption, poor remuneration of academic and non-academic staff, inadequate/ poor infrastructural facilities, inadequate teaching aids/training of academic staff, poor funding of the sector, outdated educational curriculum, among others.
However, it is against this background that when Governor Udom assumed office on May 29, 2015, he pledged to revamp the educational sector of the state. While presenting the 2016 Budget named ‘Budget of Sustainable development, he said, “Today marks my first trip, as Governor of our dear state, to this hallowed chamber, to present for your kind consideration, proposals which contain the seeds of our dream for a greater and more prosperous Akwa Ibom. I have come as a co-labourer with you in the task of deepening, remaking and reconstructing the Akwa Ibom Project.
“Our desire is to provide development that is sustainable in health, education, electricity, water supply, agriculture, information technology, capacity building, other infrastructure, housing, commerce and industry, general administration, security, industrialisation and other facets of Government”.
Speaking on the education sector during the budget presentation, he stated, “Education remains a core social sector of our economy and it is a pivot on which every human capital development revolves. This administration places a high premium on education and skills development.
“In order to consolidate on our widely – acclaimed gains in this sector, we will continue to provide the basic facilities like libraries, science laboratories, instructional materials, and workshop equipment among others for distribution to our school children in the public school system.
“Renovation and construction of more classroom and academic blocks, securing full accreditation of academic programmes, ensuring effective and efficient capacity building, recruitment of teachers, payment of bursary and scholarship to our students and providing boarding facilities to ensure a controlled and disciplined learning environment will be a continuous affair.
To realise these objectives in education, the 2016 budget earmarks the sum of N9.888 billion,” he said.
Similarly in the last seven years, Udom Emmanuel, who is also tagged: The Promise Keeper who is known for matching his words with actions has achieved outstanding results in the education sector.
On a yearly basis, the Udom Emmanuel-led government pays over N600 million WAEC and NABTEB fees for indigenes in public secondary schools. In the first tenure, the administration recruited over 5,000 teachers. Furthermore, to tackle the issue of inadequate/poor infrastructural facilities, the administration has embarked on numerous renovation projects in the different local governments of the state.
In Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika local governments, the government has completed the renovation of the building department, science laboratory, and four blocks of classrooms in Government Technical College, Abak. This is in addition to the renovation of the Assembly Hall at the Community Primary School; the reconstruction of four classrooms at the Community Secondary School; reconstruction of the Assembly Hall of the Community Secondary School, all in Eka Obong.
In Urua Inyang, the Udom Emmanuel administration has completed the renovation of the assembly hall and four classroom blocks at St. Patrick’s School. Ikono and Ini local governments are not left out of the transformational strides of the administration in the education sector.
Notable projects that have been completed include the Renovation of four classroom blocks at Methodist School Ndiya; the renovation of four classroom blocks at Central School, Nung Udoe Itak; the renovation of six classroom blocks/offices at Government Primary School, Ibiaku Ikot Ukana; Renovation of the Examination Hall at Ini Secondary School Ikpe Ikot Nkon; Renovation of Examination and Assembly Hall at Command Secondary School, Nkari; Renovation of six classroom blocks/offices at Government Primary School, Mbiaobong Ukan as well as the construction of four classroom blocks at Ini Secondary School, Ikpe Ikot Nkon.
In the local governments of Ikot Ekpene, Essien Udim, Obot Akara, the administration has completed the reconstruction of seven classroom blocks at Primary School, Esa Atan Ikot Ekpene; four classroom blocks have been renovated at Primary School, Amayam; the Kitchen/Dining Hall at Goretti Girls Secondary School has been renovated too. Furthermore, the library and computer centre at Government Secondary School, Nto Nsek.
Hundreds of renovations have also been undertaken in respect of school facilities in Ukanafun, Oruk Anam, Eket, Onna, Esit Eket, Ibeno, Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin, Eastern Obolo, Oron, Mbo, Okobo, Udung Uko, Urue Offiong-Oruko, Etinan, Nsit Ibom, Nsit Ubium, Itu, Ibiono Ibom, Uyo, Uruan, Nsit Atai, Ibesikpo Asutan local governments.
As a result of the work done in the sector, it has had a positive impact on the academic performance of the students in their examinations.
The state has moved from 17th position in the WAEC Performance Index Rankings (PIRs) in 2017 to 11th position in the 2020 rankings.