The Chairman, Edo State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Mrs. Ozavize Salami has said that, the administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki decided to extend the free and compulsory education to the Junior Secondary School (JSS) to ensure that an average Edo child that goes to school should be able to obtain a minimum training that gives the child skill for survival.
Salami stated this in Benin City while briefing newsmen, to outline the achievements of the Board under her watch.
According to her, “The governor has always maintained that he wants to ensure that, all children in our state have access to quality education that will prepare them for the global labour market.
“We want to be a state where every child is able to read at the age of ten.”
Salami added that: “Basic education in Edo state is now ten years. One year of mandatory ECCB class, six years of primary education and three years of Junior Secondary School; the junior secondary classes were brought under the SUBEB two years ago.
“Before then, education was free and compulsory only to primary six but the governor emphasizes that as much as there is a 50 percent drop in children that graduates from primary school vis-a-vis children that drop from JSS, this is not a good story to tell.
“It means that these children were not continuing their education so if we graduate a pupil in primary six, what skills have we put in their hands, have we equipped them to survive in life, that is why the governor decided to extend it to JSS 3 so that they can have the skills needed which we are already inputting into the curriculum.”
She added that, SUBEB has embarked on 181 projects in primary and secondary schools in the state to improve on their infrastructure.
She further disclosed that 228 schools under the Edo Basic Education Transformation System (EdoBEST), have as at July, 383,653 pupils, in 1,289 schools, with 16,301 digitally trained teachers and 209 field officers adding that governance across SUBEB and the schools has drastically improved.
“What we are doing is building systems that can outlast us at the end of our tenure.” Salami added.
It will be recalled that the Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice in Africa, through the Country Director, John Mayaki, recently petitioned the World Bank to evaluate the impact of the $75m (about N40bn) loan given to the Godwin Obaseki-led government to develop the education sector.
The group’s position is that, the job done by government is not commesurate to the $75m loan.
But while countering the Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice, Salami explained that, the $75m was a grant.
However, subsequent checks revealed that, the over N40bn was indeed a loan granted Edo State by the World Bank.
The state of schools in Edo State has become a nagging discussion recently, especially after government reduced classroom learning from five to three days in a week.
The proposition by government to deploy digital learning was criticised by stakeholders who argued that the poor economic status of parents and epileptic network in most rural areas makes digital learning a pipe project.
The physical structure of schools, especially across the 192 wards are less than poultry farms, with leaking roofs, collapsed walls, broken windows, with no desks or benches.
For long, parents of public schools and community heads, have complained about the absence of teachers in Edo schools and that they were forced to take responsibility for employment of ‘community teachers.’ Sadly, help seems too far from them.
Governor Godwin Obaseki had told newsmen during this year’s Education Week that his government would spend N6bn on rebuilding secondary schools in the state between last May and September 2024.
“Between May 1 and September next year, all the funds I used for roads for the Seaport project will now go to secondary schools and this is in excess of N6 billion for secondary alone.
“Unlike basic schools and junior schools, we don’t have federal support for secondary schools.
“We have Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) supporting State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) but for secondary schools, there is no support.
“What we have done is to start the process and set direction and hope that the citizens will hold the government accountable and responsible by ensuring that they deliver on what they expect within available resources.” Obaseki told reporters on the sideline of Education Week.