By Uchino Amatey
As the saying goes “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”, in this journey to improve basic education and attain greater heights in education, Cross River SUBEB under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Odey has indeed taken several steps to achieve greatness.
On assumption of office on October 12, 2015, Dr Odey stated that, “he was on a rescue mission” and that his primary objective was to facilitate learning and improve the standard of basic education in the State. Dr Stephen Odey said he was poised to transform not just basic education, but to also transform the operations of State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to achieve optimum output.
True to his words, the transformation process has already begun without delay. Within the last one year, SUBEB has given basic education in the state a facelift and has also recorded several feats. Through the instrumentality of His Excellency, the governor the board was able to access 2012-2015 UBEC Matching grant, as result about 237 projects, were advertised, technical and financial bid opening for those projects have been done and award letters will be issued to contractors soon.
Although there have been frivolous allegations by detractors that contracts have since been awarded for the 2012-2015 UBEC Intervention Projects and funds misappropriated, these allegations are not just untrue but also baseless and carried out by these detractors in a bid to distract SUBEB from its goal of improving the standard of basic education. But SUBEB, under the leadership of Dr Stephen Odey will remain focused transparent and committed to taking basic education to greater heights.
Still under 2012-2015 UBEC Projects some jobs were awarded under Selective Tendering which led to the purchase of 4 brand new Toyota Hilux Vehicles and a Prado Jeep for project monitoring to enhance effective monitoring of 2012-2015 UBE Intervention Projects, and monitoring of schools to ensure standard in Basic Education delivery. About 50,000 plastic tables and chairs have been purchased and distributed to primary schools across the state.
In the past year SUBEB was also able to commence academic activities at the UBEC-built Junior Secondary Schools at Itigidi and Okuku. Academics activities for the term will commence on the 9th of January 2017. Parents are encouraged to avail themselves this opportunity and send their children to these schools which have state-of- the- arts facilities and meant for Boarders only. It is worthy of mention that for the first time, SUBEB is running 2 UBEC Secondary schools in Abi and Yala, with quality teachers carefully selected. These schools have all the boarding facilities.
To address the dearth of teachers in primary schools occasioned by retirement and death cases, SUBEB got approval to recruit 1,000 teachers; recruitment process is ongoing, the first stage of the process which was aptitude test has been completed, SUBEB now more than ever is ready to conclude the remaining recruitment process which involves Oral interview and certificate verification to ensure that only qualified and competent teachers are recruited.
To encourage sporting activities in Schools across the State, SUBEB has taken delivery of about 680 pieces state-of-the-art Table tennis, bats and balls (outdoor) sporting equipment purchased from Germany; these equipments will be distributed to schools across the State. This is the first of its kind.
Concerned with the plight of teachers and in a bid to ensure prompt payment of teachers’ salary, the Executive Chairman SUBEB, Dr Stephen Odey got approval to take over payment of teachers’ salaries. Due to this, SUBEB embarked on a Biometric/Image capturing and Personnel Audit of teaching and non-teaching staff to create a reliable database for salary payment and to check the existence of ghost workers.
The exercise has been concluded in most LGEAs of the southern senatorial zone, the remaining areas will be covered soon, as the exercise will soon kick off again. This exercise was also conducted alongside the promotion interview for teachers.
To show the passion he has for improving the basic education sector, whilst recognising that teachers are key drivers of this sector the Executive Chairman, Dr. Odey has been working round the clock, with relevant stakeholders to rectify non-payment of salaries of some affected teachers.
Prior to this time SUBEB had earlier embarked on Personnel Audit Exercise to rid the sector of ghost workers and also to determine the number and quality of Teachers in the system. The exercise has saved the State about N10 million monthly and about 250 teachers with fake certificates have been uncovered in the process.
In the past year training was not left out, 2014 Universal Basic Education Teachers Professional Development programme workshop also known as cluster training was carried out, 2014 SMASE Cycle II workshop; 148 core teachers were successfully trained on strengthening Mathematics and Science Education, 2015 Jolly Phonics workshop, about 2,400 teachers were trained across the state. Capacity building workshop, organised by SUBEB in partnership with MicroAdeyers International for SUBEB staff, Drivers Refresher’s Course organised by SUBEB in partnership with Federal Road safety Corps (FRSC) Cross River Command for SUBEB Drivers and Education Secretaries and SUBEB Directors would soon take their turn.
More training will take place to ensure that teachers and staff of SUBEB are armed with the requisite skills and tools to work effectively.
SUBEB was also commissioned by the Governor to midwife, the establishment of one world class model school fashioned in line with the Canadian International School, which will be located in Obudu LGA. Wheels have been set in motion, for the establishment of this project.
In this year 2017 and in the future SUBEB is more committed to ensuring that Cross River State will be far ahead of others in the delivery of functional primary school education. SUBEB will ensure that projects that have been awarded are executed to specification. The Board also hopes to access the 2016 UBEC matching grant for intervention projects this year for more infrastructural development.
With the above plans laid out for 2017 basic education in Cross River State is indeed on the pillar of greatness.