Public schools in Nigeria were once citadels of great learning and a source of pride to Nigerians. However, some of these schools have become a shadow of themselves and abandoned to rot away. But there is an intervention by the Republic of South Korea. CALEB ONWE reports
The decadence in the educational system in the country can be traced to gross negligence by successive governments in the country. The rot in public schools in Nigeria has obviously developed a stench that fouls the air. The result has been the massive migration of pupils to private schools facilitated by parents who could afford the cost of the modern schools.
The Korean government, through its Korea International Cooperation Agency ( KOICA) recently came to Nigeria’s rescue by establishing a Model School for primary and junior secondary education in Abuja.
The Asian country expended $15 million to build a total of 91 class rooms that consist of, smart classroom, Science Room, Roof top garden, computer room, Broadcast Room and other facilities that are scarcely available in the best private schools in the country.
This gigantic structural and architectural design meant for primary and junior secondary schools, structured in tandem with Universal Basic Education specifications, is big enough and qualified to host any university campus that will not derogate from any global standards.
As if the Korea benefactors understood that the long years of neglect and rot in the public schools may have affected the psychology of those who will be employed to manage the school, they have, with the collaboration of the Federal Capital Territory Administration Education Secretariat, selected educational managers and teachers who were given a new orientation and other relevant training in far away Republic of Korea.
Inside Abuja gathered that KOICA envisaged a situation where the purpose of the schools and the facilities would be diverted. So, they went further to provide a relevant training that would ensure that Nigeria aligned with the global trend in public education systems.
South Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, Major Gen. Lee In-ate ( Rtd) on the day the Model School was commissioned and handed over to Nigeria, through the FCT Administration, admonished relevant government agencies that would manage the facilities to understand the responsibility placed on their shoulders.
“Education is not only the single most important investment for the future but also the basic and foremost right of every child
“I cannot overemphasize the importance of ownership. I sincerely hope that you would take this school as a national asset. Without making the best use of these facilities and proper operation and management of this school, our mission to nurture better human resources for the development of Nigeria would not be achieved ” he said.
KOICA Country Director and Regional Representative in Nigeria, Sook Hyun Park, said that the Model School was a vision that was birthed in 2013 when a bilateral agreement was signed between the Republic of Korea, the FCTA and the Universal Basic Education Commission ( UBEC).
Park said that the school is expected to be a centre of excellence for the development of Universal Basic Education in Nigeria. It aims at improving the education environment of public primary and junior secondary schools in Nigeria, strengthen the educational capacity, enhance the efficient operation and management of schools, and to promote friendly relations between the Republic of Korea and Federal Republic of Nigeria..
The Model School is not only a challenge, but a finger that would continue to poke the conscience of Nigerian educational managers.
Inside Abuja observed during the handover ceremony that almost all the Nigerian government functionaries who were present were awed by the magnificent structures and the serenity that pervades the neatly landscaped environment.
Minister of State, Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka, who represented President Mohammadu Buhari at the occasion, did not mince words, when he stated that Nigeria had no choice than to retrace its steps towards repositioning Universal Basic Education in the country.
Anwuka, while commending the Korean government for demonstrating true friendship with the Model School donation, reassured the international community that Nigeria would remain a fertile ground for mutual cooperation.
The FCT Minister, Mallam Mohammad Musa Bello, assured the benefactors and the public that the school management would never deviate from the original purpose.
Bello also noted that his administration was ready to collaborate with all relevant agencies to enable the school remain a model that will be a springboard to the restoration of the glory of public school.
Secretary, FCT Education Secretariat, Isa Maina, disclosed that plans were already in the pipeline to ensure that the schools resumed operation by September 2018 academic session.
Maina further reiterated that the education secretariat would be on guard to ensure that the personnel already trained for the take off of the schools were motivated to display attitudes that would not distort the objective of the schools.
One government functionary at the occasion who could not bottle up his emotions for the project, but admitted that he has got inspiration of what to do next, was the Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission ( UBEC) Hamid Boboyyi.
Boboyyi said: ” The Korean model School system has also served as a great inspiration to the development of the UBEC Model Schools, many of which will come on board by December this year. We hope this partnership shall be carried further to ensure the success of the system”.
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