By Lola Omowaye & Bukola Olamona
In order to rejuvenate the education sector of the state, Ondo State Government have allocated more than fifteen percent of the budget to funding education, it has been disclosed.
The state Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Femi Agagu stated this in an interview with The Hope in his office .
He said the state is striving to reach the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation(UNESCO) standard of twenty six percent so that education can get to its righful place.
Agagu said the government has taken this position long before the Federal Executive Council (FEC) resolution that fifteen percent of budget be located to financing the educational sector of the country.
According to him:”In Ondo state, we have been doing better than fifteen percent, we are even striving to get to twenty six percent and I can assure you that the government is doing everything to ensure education get enough attention”.
Agagu said when the present government came on board, it paid the counterpart fund that the state was supposed to have paid to Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) which allowed the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to be able to accessed the needed fund, which is why so many primary schools are having new looks.
“By the time the present governor came on board, the state could not access the subvention from UBEC because we did not pay our counterpart funding and in one first swoop, he paid four years arrears which were for 2013,2014,2015 and 2016. I can tell you now that 2017 and 2018 have been paid, if not fully paid but almost fully paid. What that means is that SUBEB is already compiling the work plan for 2017 and 2018 and as soon as it is approved in Abuja, work will start.
‘ When you go round, you will see that the schools are wearing new looks, particularly primary schools and some secondary schools. So by the time we access the 2017,2018, you can be sure that the whole thing will change, ” he added.
Agagu said the federal and the state governments need to collaborate so that education can achieve what it was meant to achieve.
‘The development of human capital is too important to be handled in a way that would not allow for proper synergy between the federal and state and the local government and that is happening now and I think that is the way it should be” he said.
On the allegations according to UNESCO that the problem in the education sector in the country is the ratio of one hundred pupils per teacher, Agagu said it is not so in Ondo state, stating that “For us in Ondo state, we are not in anywhere near that. Even as at the time Strategic Development Policy Implementation Committee( SDPIC) report was been compiled, the data at our disposal was at the ratio of one to between thirty five and forty for teacher student and for teachers pupil, both of them are still within that range,so we are very far away from that.
“But I must also admit that there are shortage of teachers in our schools which has arisen out of depletion either through from people retiring,natural passages or death,for the secondary school we have an accurate data as at the last time we have the exercise with” the Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM), we needed one thousand two hundred ” Agagu concluded .
He therefore assured that the state government has resolved to keep on improving on the allocation in the sector by looking for ways to augment government’s fund by re-launching the Education Endowment Fund for the development of education.