From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Former Ekiti State governor and candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), in the Saturday, June 18, governorship election, Asiwaju Segun Oni, has promised to revitalise education in the state and return her glorious slogan, Fountain of Knowledge.
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Oni, who stated this during an interview with the Ekiti Build Back Better (EBBB) at Ifaki-Ekiti recently, said he was disturbed by the underfunding and neglect of education in the state by successive administrations, claiming that the developmental programmes he had crafted to transform education in Ekiti State and place its tertiary institutions on the same pedestal with their counterparts overseas were jettisoned by the Kayode Fayemi-led administration.
According to a press statement issued by the group’s spokesman, Idowu Adelusi in Ado-Ekiti at the weekend, the SDP candidate said “if the Ekiti people can come out en masse on June 18 to elect me as their governor, I will return the glory of this state as Fountain of Knowledge. Ironically, the cistern has been without water. I will ensure regular payment of teachers’ salary, special allowances and other entitlements.
” There will be regular promotion with financial backing; there will be trainings to bring out the best in them; I will introduce other incentives to motivate them to work. The tertiary institutions in the state will be properly funded to stop incessant strikes by unions; I will provide more infrastructure for adequate learning.”
The former governor recalled that during his first administration, he put in place proper funding for the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education as well as effective monitoring system for the primary and secondary schools, a development he said did not give room for truancy and laziness among the pupils and teachers.
He stated further that “my administration provided free lockers and chairs for students and tables and chairs for the teachers. I provided free textbooks, exercise books and laptops for the students.
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“Ekiti, under my administration, happened to be the first state in the country to start the now popular free school feeding programme for primary and secondary schools.
“I re-introduced boarding system in public secondary schools with generating sets and modern Internet facilities.
“My administration as well introduced school-based entrepreneurship programmes like bread baking, poultry production and production of exercise books and school chalks in public secondary schools through which the students could become self employed after leaving school.
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“I awarded adequate and sustainable scholarships and bursaries to all qualified Ekiti students in tertiary institutions both at home and abroad without knowing the governors or government officials as prerequisite.
“We purchased free JAMB forms for students and arranged free three-month coaching for prospective candidates. Many youths were prepared for and put on free educational trainings in overseas countries such as Portugal.
“We established two promising universities: The University of Education, Ikere-Ekiti (TUNEDIK) and University of Science and Technology, Ifaki-Ekiti (USTI) to expand Ekiti educational frontiers and meet the yearnings of the people in the areas of teaching, science and technology.
“The presence of the two institutions in their communities boosted the economy of the people and promoted infrastructural developments. Unfortunately, the two universities were summarily closed down by the Fayemi-led administration immediately I left office for no genuine reason.
“The establishment of the two universities never affected the funding of the existing Ekiti State University (EKSU). My administration established a link between EKSU and the Educational Trust Fund (ETF) which went a long way to assist the university in terms of infrastructure development; and up till now, most of the buildings on the university campus are ETF/TETFUND-funded.
“I also Increased the monthly subvention to the EKSU to take care of the shortfall in staff wage bill. It was never struggled for by the university or the staff unions before it was done. I facilitated a grand collaboration with a South Korean university for a two-year free students exchange programme and for the university to build a three-in-one standard laboratory complex for USTI, free.
“Arrangements were also made to move 30 high flying second year students from various departments in USTI to South Korea for a two-year Students Exchange Programme and for work to commence on a three-in-one Standard Laboratory Project.
“Two USTI lecturers had already been deployed as an advanced team to South Korea for training and to prepare the ground for the students, a year before the time. One of the lecturers sent to South Korea for the Students Exchange Programme never came back when the programme was discontinued and USTI was closed down.”
Oni said if his administration had not been truncated, education would have advanced beyond what it is now at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels, promising to use his second coming to put education in the proper place.
“I, therefore, call on the people and the students who have attained voting age to collect their permanent voter cards to vote for me and the SDP to win the election.”