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Saturday, 18 March 2017 18:19

Governor Wike neglects Universal Basic Education at pupils' peril

Written by Rowland Orlu
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Where are the public intellectuals? A question I wish Rivers State Governor, Ezebuwon Nyesom Wike, will give resounding answers to.

Something bad has happened and is happening, and is getting frightening in our Rivers State: the decline of public school intellectualism. And so I itch to ask, why so much disregard to government owned primary schools?

During the administration of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the public arena was dominated by a ferment of ideas, ideas that pushed boundaries, destroyed illusions, questioned orthodoxies and enabled stiff intellectual competition between public and private pupils. Those were the days when intellectual Education Commissioners exerted great influence on government educational policies; and their enormous input into the governance process could not be ignored. Ideas are strong elements of state and nation building, and even where interests are at play, you know the quality of a state by the manner in which a taste for good thinking propels the leadership process.

Without gainsaying, l respected Amaechi's educational policies, his choice of competent technocrats for that sector and his keen drive for free education for all children. The Universal Basic Education(UBE) was hard driven, even children from Wike's family and Rumueprikom benefitted from this educational benevolence.

In the wake of Wike's administration which has vendetta against Amaechi as its primary objective, selected milestone achievements of Amaechi became the target. The education sector had the first reprisal attack. When Wike abolished free education, gave gross neglect to the UBE program.

I don't know about over-inflated ego, but l do know that the flame in public schools in present day Rivers State is now almost a flicker. One wonders if Governor Wike ever enjoyed sound primary education. If he did, why deprive children of today from becoming future public intellectuals?

Another cardinal factor is the emergence of a “climate of fear”, and a culture of silence. Primary school teachers and non academic workers are owed months of unpaid salaries; pupils are compiled to pay so many fees. It is one teacher for over hundred pupils. And somebody will boldly say, “Wike is working.” Working what? When the root factor for societal development is neglected?

Poor parents have become so frustrated, that they retired largely into a state of indifference and inertia. For what is the point knocking one's head against the wall, while there is nothing inside?

Rowland Orlu wrote from Port Harcourt

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