What this masses-targeted educational policy of Fayemi has achieved is the exponential increase in the enrolment figures in the primary, secondary and technical schools in the state. From 106,271 pupils in primary schools in 2018 to 140,518 pupils in 2020; 85,681 in secondary schools in 2018 to 109,542 pupils in 2020 and 240 students in technical colleges in 2018 to 910 students in 2020.
What is also remarkable is that, a large percentage of the new enrolees were attracted from the private school sector in the state. This is an eloquent testimony that Fayemi’s education policy is tremendously affecting the lives of Ekiti people positively, particularly the poor masses who could not access quality education in the time past.
Fayemi’s “obsession” with knowledge economy is borne out of his passion for excellence and its clearly aimed at ensuring productivity among the learned across board so as to ensure Ekiti State becomes destination of choice for the knowledge industry particularly as it concerns information and communication technology.
He believes that knowledge economy, which is the quest for functional and values oriented education, will allow Ekiti education products become technologically competent and academically sound for the jobs of the future.
Ekiti State Government has approved a new education policy, which mandates the teaching of Information Communication and Technology (ICT). Fayemi noted that the new policy became not only imperative, but also expedient to boost ICT know-how among the citizens and expand the scope of knowledge for more opportunities in the global community.
This is to obviously ensure that global practices are put in place among Ekiti students so that teaching/ learning will deliver and produce world class products in our contemporary times. This proposed policy is cited covering six thematic areas: human capital development, infrastructure, awareness and communication, governance, financing and monitoring and evaluation.
In his bid to achieving this laudable agenda, Dr. Fayemi is collaborating with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to finalize the development plan for the Ekiti Knowledge Zone (EKZ) in addition to completing the necessary formalities for its approval as a Special Economic Zone by the Federal Government.
With this sterling pace of moves, Ekiti will no doubt become a state to be reckoned with among the comity of states. In 2018 upon assumption of office, Fayemi peeped into the Ekiti State School curriculum and saw reason in reviewing same to reflect modern day solution to the ravaging socio-economic and socio-cultural challenges confronting us as a people.
He opined that the major function of our education is to make students the problem-solver of any surrounded difficulties. Opined that any knowledge that doesn’t amount to solution to any problem is useless and of no use.
Fayemi is also of the opinion that the curriculum of the Nigerian education sector as at present is obsolete and not capable of confronting modern day economic realities and as such purged the system off its anachronistic method of teaching and learning in the state.
Fayemi believes that our graduates should be employable and be employers of labour. He is appalled seeing graduates dubbed employable sit down idly at home after many years of schooling because the kind of knowledge received hasn’t equipped them with the requisite skill to wriggle out in the world they find themselves.
Our modern day curricula must include subjects that imbued in them skills that will turn them to employers instead of bearers of CVs looking for who to employ them. The trendy tools of economic stimulation are SMEs.
Government across all levels have been providing various forms of incentives to encourage entrepreneurship amongst the populace as tools of economic empowerment and solution to the hydra headed monster of unemployment.
Our fresh graduates are the most positioned section of our working population to take advantage of it, but they must first be imbued with such skills to be able to do that and this can only be possible if our curricula reflect it. The introduced free education policy into the Ekiti education system by Governor Fayemi is the fulfilment of his promise during his electioneering.
The entirety of the programme is about quantitative and quality education at all levels in Ekiti State as this practically becomes all inclusive agenda involving the students, the teachers, the parents, the corporate and civil organizations and the public. It also involves good infrastructure, the conducive environment and every other value that can aid development in the sector. So, in Ekiti State, no student is asked to pay a kobo in school or whatever fee.
Dr. Fayemi did not just make it a lip service, a caveat and warning to all the school principals and head teachers also followed for compliance, that whosoever goes contrary to the policy will be sanctioned accordingly. With this policy, the sincere intention of the governor was to create enabling and affordable situation for every parent to enrol their kids in school. The ardent philosophical believe of Governor Fayemi is that, the moment sound education is provided, there will be a significant improvement in the education sector and of course positive lapping effects on the entire economy.
That is why the government of Ekiti State is investing huge resources on the sector. There is no gainsaying that Ekiti State is widely known as the Fountain of Knowledge whilst uncompromising effort is in force with appreciable determination by the Fayemi administration to maintain that identity mantra.
Soyombo, a Senior Special Assistant to Governor Fayemi on Students’ Matters, writes from Ado-Ekiti.