Published On: Tue, Feb 20th, 2018

SIX YEARS OF RESTORATION:GOVERNOR DICKSON’ SILENT REVOLUTION IN EDUCATION

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Ijaw National Academy, Kaiama Bayelsa State

 

In 2012, the Dickson Administration stepped into governance with a burning desire to transform the face of development in Bayelsa. While the governor believed that the state was in dire need of the touch of restoration in the area of infrastructure, health, tourism and other critical sectors, he placed emphasis on targeted investment in education as the pivot that would drive the desired growth in Bayelsa State. Prior to the advent of Dickson and his team, the education sector evoked pity and was in desperate need for urgent and concentrated attention which could only have been given by a leader with a passion to turn rot and rust into gold and diamond!

Faced with a humongous decay in the education sector, Governor Dickson took a firm decision to declare an emergency in the sector in Bayelsa State. He was propelled by a raging urge to turn-around the specter of failure in the education sector with that Midas touch that is the exclusive preserve of leaders with uncommon vision. The story of the state of Education then was at best pathetic. Bayelsa State was listed among the least in the education development index in Nigeria. Six years of intervention in the sector has shown in authoritative terms that Dickson rejected illiteracy and underdevelopment in the sector. A touch of restoration in the sector has since rewritten the story.

Bayelsa State today, is rated among the best in education even as more efforts are being made to cover new grounds considered impossible before the advent of the Dickson Administration.

First set of Graduates of University of Africa, Toru-Orua

 

 

 

Dickson’s first master-stroke was to design a policy to wrest thousands of pupils from the contagious talons of illiteracy by introducing free and compulsory education at the primary and secondary school levels. He devoted a good chunk of the resources of Bayelsa State to the building of Schools to prepare the Bayelsa child for the challenges of the future. A man with a vision, he took steps to build a lasting parapet to sustain the laudable project of free education at the primary and secondary school levels. His well thought out answer to the myriad of questions thrown up by what seems to be an audacious introduction of free education was the establishment of the Education Development Trust Fund. This Fund is the power house which has provided the platform for thousands of Bayelsans and other Ijaw children to walk away from the trap of illiteracy and limitations.

The rescue mission in the education sector resulted in the construction of over 600 primary schools in the eight local government areas of the state. Suffice to add that the primary schools were constructed with staff quarters especially for teachers.

The Governor’s design for the education sector was all encompassing. He introduced free boarding secondary schools and personally supervised the construction of model secondary schools in all the local government areas of the State. Each of the model secondary school is built with the capacity to admit 700 students in the minimum. The flagship Ijaw National Academy, Kaiama, has a capacity to admit 1,300 students. As a deliberate design to encourage the democratization of education, the State government has ensured a holistic implementation of a policy that offers free tuition, feeding accommodation to between 10,000 to 15,000 students of high quality boarding schools. For the purpose of emphasis, the students in the model secondary schools are fed three times daily with decent accommodation at no cost to the guardians.

To demonstrate his unflinching commitment to the promotion of learning and human capital development the Dickson Administration has committed N70billion to the construction of new schools, their equipment and the renovation of inherited ones from inception. The administration has also taken the bold steps to complete the ongoing 25 Constituency boarding schools across the State as part of the deliberate efforts to intensify the crusade for quality education in Bayelsa State.

“Today in Bayelsa State, education is free from primary all through to the secondary level. Education is free in every sense of the word as essential materials such as school uniform; school sandals and textbooks are given to students without a single kobo being paid by them. We have built over 600 primary schools with headmaster’s quarters, fifteen model secondary schools and 25 constituency schools with boarding facilities across the state, built from scratch by the restoration government and fully equipped with science laboratories and modern facilities for 21st Century learning. We have in addition rebuilt and upgraded St. Jude’s Amarata Girls School, the oldest girls’ school in the state and BDGS.” He had said in December 2018.

The quest to wrench the State from the yoke of underdevelopment inspired the governor to make the intervention in the education sector as holistic and as painstaking as possible. There was the burning desire to respond to the increasing demand for University education in the state as clearly shown by the number of candidates jostling for admission into the State owned Niger Delta University and others. This passionate concern to support the desire of the Bayelsa child for tertiary education inspired the establishment of the University of Africa, Toru Orua. Already, the institution, equipped with modern facilities for learning and affiliated to several highly reputable institutions in specialized disciplines is taking off with its set of 500 pioneer students in 2018.

To take it further, the Administration committed N6billion to the State’s Scholarship Programme to provide scholarship for degree and post graduate students outside the country. The arrangement created the opportunity for 140 -PhD and 400 –Master Degree Students from the State study various courses in highly rated Universities in Europe and America.

 

In addition, the administration awarded scholarships to 250 indigent pupils in top secondary schools across Nigeria under the Bayelsa State Secondary Schools Scholarship Scheme inherited from the Goodluck Jonathan Administration. Of the two hundred and fifty beneficiaries of the scheme, the administration allocated fifty of the slots to students of Ijaw speaking parts of Edo, Delta, Cross River, Rivers, Akwa – Ibom and Ondo States. With the sustained efforts of the Dickson Administration to transform the education sector, Bayelsa “Is fast becoming the educational hub and epicenter of human capital development in Nigeria.”

Although, Dickson has made far reaching impact in the lives of Bayelsans in virtually all the sectors, his efforts in education promises a special place in the courts of posterity when the story of this administration is written.

So far, the government has established a number of tertiary institutions considered vital to the development of the education sector. These are the Teachers Training Academy, the Maritime Academy, the School of Agriculture, International Institute for Tourism and Hospitality, Elebele International Institute for Driving, Yenagoa, Music School, Yenagoa, the Language School, the Institute of Communication Technology, School of Nursing, Sports Academy, Football Academy, Re-establishment of BYCAS –Bayelsa College of Arts and Science, to prepare our students for remedial studies which has now acquired a student population of over 3,000 students. Others are Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro College of Education, Sagbama, multi – billion naira Youth Development Centre, Kaiama, newly established State Polytechnic, to address vocational and technical education and other.

 

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