Education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the perspective of the world.
As an integral part of human society, its importance in life cannot be ignored as lack of education gives birth to numerous social problems. By providing education, poverty can be removed and every person can make their contribution to developing the society.
For education to be effective, the continuing role for the government rests on it acting to help ensure that education makes a contribution to the well being of society and the economy.
This assertion tallies with the philosophy of the executive governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi that education cannot yield the desired result if it is independent of the government. For him, the role of government in the development of the educational sector is key.
To this end, he has, since becoming governor on May 29, 2015 made the state a model learning centre in Nigeria through implementation of cutting-edge intervention initiatives in the education sector.
Governor Ugwuanyi believes that government needs to empower school teachers as professionals with the professional obligations and standards and support them in their quest to provide quality learning opportunities for young Enugu indigenes. This is borne out of the assertion that when workers are well trained and educated, the tendency towards innovation and creativity increases.
It is his conviction that since the teachers impart knowledge to the pupils, updating their (teacher’s) skill is necessary to keep them abreast of the current issues in the profession because the ultimate goal of training the trainer is to enthrone excellence in schools.
Consequently, his administration has invested huge resources to train primary and secondary school teachers.
Besides, over 5, 000 teachers have been recruited since 2015 to boost personnel in the primary and secondary schools.
The government also converted 1,000 volunteer teachers to permanent staff and released of all outstanding arrears of promotion under the Post-Primary Schools Management Board (PPSMB).
Bottom up infrastructural upgrade
If the government cannot provide adequate and quality education to students at the elementary and secondary school levels, the tertiary institutions will hardly produce quality graduates.
As a good foundation makes a house sturdy, Ugwuanyi on assumption of office was not comfortable with the parlous state of infrastructure in the primary and secondary schools which serve as nurseries for the tertiary institutions.
Realising that it would amount to nothing recruiting teachers without making the environment for teaching and learning conducive, Ugwuanyi took seriously the construction of new classrooms, renovation and rehabilitation of dilapidated infrastructure and re-equipping of primary and secondary schools in the state to standard.
Besides, the state procured and distributed 22,150 lockers and chairs for primary school children, as well as 1,228 tables, 1,228 arm chairs and 2,456 armless chairs for the teachers.
It also provided 1,130 marker boards for teaching and 1,960 ceiling fans to make the learning environment very conducive.
Under the Enugu State Universal Basic Education (ENSUBEB), 12, 480 writing desks and chairs for primary school pupils and 868 tables and chairs for teachers, have been procured and distributed to improve the standard of learning.
Other landmark achievements in education include
*supplying science equipment to 135 secondary schools under the PPSMB
*supplying and installing computers to 200 secondary schools under PPSMB)
*construction of state-of-the-art administrative building of the first degree-awarding institution in Education in the South East zone, the Enugu State University of Education in Ihe, Awgu local government area, established by Ugwuanyi’s administration to serve as a centre for training of teachers for primary, secondary and tertiary education.
All these are aimed at making the environment conducive for teaching and learning to take place.
The steps taken by the governor to address the parlous state of primary and secondary schools in the state did not go unnoticed as the federal ministry of education named Model Secondary School, Nsukka, as winner of the 2019 President’s Teachers and Schools Excellence Award.
On October 5, 2019, the school emerged as the federal government’s 2019 educational award winner of the prestigious national award, at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
Not much was heard about the Enugu State Scholarship and Education Loans Board (ESSELB) until Ugwuanyi became governor. As a revolutionary, he swung into action and the board became a name through the award of various degrees of scholarships to Enugu indigenes to study both within and outside the country.
At the last count, 300 Enugu students from various tertiary institutions received N100, 000 per annum to fund their tuition; 340 indigent Enugu students of Iwollo Polytechnic drawn from the 17 council areas were offered scholarships at the cost of N41.6 million, covering their tuition for four years; 340 indigent Enugu students of Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu drawn from the 17 council areas of the state were granted scholarships at the cost of N54.4 million, covering their tuition for four years of academic studies in all engineering programmes of the institution.
Besides, 22 post-secondary school students of Enugu state were offered scholarships to study in Mewar University, India; 38 pupils of Inland Primary School, Imilike Enu were awarded scholarships up to secondary school level while two exceptionally brilliant students, one of whom is Cynthia Ali who had nine distinctions in the 2017 West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE).
Similarly, the government offered a scholarship to Cajetan Goodluck Chineke, a student from Oji River local government area of the state, who won the coveted Bangkok Global Educational Award 2020.
Chineke, it would be recalled took the first position “after competing with over 50 countries and defeating over five million contestants in an essay competition.
The award, according to the government has placed the Enugu as the global educationally adjudged best state in Africa as well as made Nigeria the next host of 2021 edition of the global competition.
The local and foreign scholarships given to Enugu State indigenes to study to study in Nigeria and overseas are also part of the mix.
The Scholarship board has, through the efforts of this administration, concluded a number of bi-lateral educational agreements with various schools in Europe and America with a view to ensuring massive development of the state through technical education, vocational and skill development. Most of our students on foreign scholarships are on bond to work for at least 2 years for the state upon their return and this has a multiplier effects on the economic development of the state.
The scholarship board has also engaged the services of a world-class consultant who aides in the processing and securing of scholarships for Enugu indigenes using its relationships with development partners, embassies and high commissions.
The board has processed and sent applications for over 300 students of Enugu State origin to study in New Zealand under the fully -funded New Zealand Development Scholarship programme.
Ugwuanyi’s vision for education is all-inclusive. To this end, his administration has extended its support for tertiary educational institutions in the state as part of the strategy to nurture quality graduates needed to actualise socio-economic development of the country.
The Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu has been upgraded to a degree awarding institution.
The government assisted immensely in the provision of infrastructure, renovation of dilapidated buildings/ facilities and other logistics needed to improve the quality of learning in the institute.
The Ugwuanyi administration also approved the sum of N252, 456,917.67 for the accreditation of its programmes by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
The government also ensured the repositioning and revamping of the Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo which resulted in the re-validation of old programmes and full accreditation of five new courses by NBTE.
The Ugwuanyi administration also looked the way of the Enugu State College of Education (Technical) which could not award certificates to its students for nine years due to non-accreditation of its courses.
The government made a special intervention by providing the necessary facilities for the accreditation its accreditation by the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE).
“Commenting on the journey so far Ugwuanyi said: “Since we assumed office on May 29, 2015, our team has challenged ourselves with the task of improving the lot of the state with the intention of leaving it better than we found it when our term is ended.
“It has not been easy, given the dire economic circumstances we found ourselves in after assuming office. But we realised that we cannot afford to betray the confidence reposed on us by the people by giving excuses. We concluded that as tough as the circumstances might be, with prudence and prioritization, we could achieve a whole lot.”
In recognition of his visionary leadership and commitment to the welfare of the students in particular and youths in general, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Enugu State chapter, conferred on Ugwuanyi ‘The Most Student-friendly Governor’ in the country.
Similarly, the national body of NANS conferred on Ugwuanyi ‘The most youth-friendly governor in Nigeria
For his track record and contribution to the Nigerian legal education in particular and leadership in general, the Law Students’ Association of Nigeria (LAWSAN) conferred ‘The Governor of the Year 2020 Award’ on the governor.
Other awards include ‘The Most Efficient Governor of the Year 2020’ by the Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria (BJAN); Most Labour-Friendly Governor by the state’s Organized Labour; Sun Newspaper Governor of the Year Award 2018, Vanguard Newspaper Personality of the Year 2018 Award, Leadership Newspaper Governor of the Year 2018 Award and Daily Independent Governor of Year 2018 Award for Grassroots Development.
Governor Ugwuanyi has also been inducted as the first Fellow of the Institute of Peace, Conflict and Development Studies (IPCDS) of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT).