It’s an axiomatic fact that education is the game changer in any nation desirous of social, economic and political development. And no leader who is serious about uplifting the welfare and well-being of his people would dare to neglect this critical aspect of his country’s socio-economic index, no matter the ideology he or she espouses. During the cold war, both the capitalist and communist camps invested heavily in scientific and technological development in order to have an edge over the other in the manufacturing and deployment of effective hi-tech weapons of warfare and space exploration.
In Nigeria, it is evident that the federal and state governments have continued to place great emphasis and priority on the educational development and literacy attainment of their citizens to witness the free education policy of the old western region and the concerted efforts by the northern and eastern regions to reduce the cost of education so that it will be accessible and beneficial to a vast majority of the citizens.
Therefore, to toe the line of purposeful leaders, Gombe State Governor, Dr Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, has never hidden his burning desire for the educational advancement of his people as he has left no stone unturned to fulfill his promise of achieving over 80% literacy rate in the Jewel of the Savannah before the end of his tenure in 2019.
On assuming the saddle of leadership in 2011, Dankwambo embarked on on-the-spot assessment tour of educational facilities in all the 11 local government areas of the state. He traverse all primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions in order to get first-hand knowledge of how the pupils and students were taught and equally take inventory of facilities and school equipment.
Astonishingly, what he (Talban Gombe) saw during his educational tour shocked him to the bone marrow as many primary and secondary classrooms were in a state of disrepair and dereliction. The roofs of some of the classrooms had fallen off, exposing the hapless students to the harsh elements of the weather. In addition, many of the classrooms had no single school furniture be it school desks or chairs forcing the students to sit on the cold bare floor while taking classes.
The complementary laboratory equipment for science classes were virtually non-existent in many of the schools visited while there was glaring paucity of toilet facilities leading to students and pupils to make use of the surrounding bushes to for their conveniences.
Therefore, without much ado, a visibly concerned Dankwambo issued marching orders to his education commissioner and aides, that the present dismal situation be reversed in the shortest possible time and that if such a scenario persisted those in charge of educational development will find themselves holding the short end of the stick, no more no less.
It’s against this background that within the first four years of the Dankwambo administration, a record number of primary and secondary school classrooms were either constructed or rehabilitated. Classroom furniture like desks and chairs were supplied to all the schools in the nooks and cranny of the state, while science laboratory equipment were supplied to secondary schools to aid scientific research and inquiry critical to scientific and technology development of the young impressionable minds.
Dankwambo has by this frenetic pace of development and reconstruction in the educational sector shown his zest and fervour for the total educational rebirth and revitalization of the whole gamut of Gombe state society. In a double-axe approach of nipping in the bud, the unemployment among graduates, and boosting the state’s teacher capacity, Dankwambo recently embarked on the employment of over 760 qualified teachers for primary and secondary schools in the state, a feat unprecedented in its annals, once more showcasing Dankwambo as a lover of educational development and excellence in all its positive ramifications.
According to him, the recently employed qualified teachers would be posted to those primary and secondary schools that are neediest of their services as this would go a long way in raising the standard and quality of educational institutions in the state. Dankwambo took up the onerous task of indentifying, selecting and shortlisting the 760 teachers as a matter of top priority and was personally involved in the whole vetting process, given his passion for impacting quality education to his young citizenry.
Furthermore, as far as Dankwambo is concerned, the young mind that is educationally sound can be a force for liberation, development and industrialization as they have a zest for creativity and innovation in their respective spheres. Taking a shining example of the United States, the present revolution in hi-tech and telecom development can be ascribed to the investment in educational research in the Silicon Valley in the American state of California.
Also if you note that China and the Asian tiger economics of Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and lots more, have come a long way in industrial development and manufacturing of high quality goods; the heavy investment in educational research and development has a lot to do with the exponential growth of their respective economies.
Therefore, Dankwambo is determined to replicate the rapid economic growth experienced in advanced economies all over the world by investing heavily in the educational sphere and he has achieved the feat of ensuring that no student or pupil in Gombe state sits on the bare floor as was the case in the past. The employment of over 760 qualified teachers to engage the multitude of students and pupils in educational institutions all over Gombe state is no doubt a durable investment that the entire state and its citizens will reap bountifully in the foreseeable future.
Kera writes from Abuja