By Our Editorial Board
The present entity, Cross River State is among the 12 original states created in 1967 in Nigeria by General Yakubu Gowon to weaken the Eastern Nigeria which was on the verge of seceding to form the Republic of Biafra.
Known then as South-Eastern State and later rechristened Cross River in 1976, the state remained as it was till September 23rd, 1988 when Akwa Ibom State was carved out by the Ibrahim Babangida regime.
Since then, the state has passed through many administrations to the present leadership of Senator Benedict Ayade.
An actual foundation for the take off of the western form of education beyond the Secondary/Teachers Training colleges were laid only after the state was created by the first Governor, Late Brigadier U J Esuene and the subsequent administrations.
Presently, the state has a multi-campus state owned University, known as Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH), College of Education, Institute of Management and Technology, Institute of Health Technology, a hand full of Schools of Nursing as well as Midwifery.
At the inception of the Senator Ben Ayade’s Administration last year May 29, the state had abysmally fallen from between the fifth and sixth positions in WAEC ranking to a shameful 27th position among the 36 states and Abuja.
It is however instructive that within the eighth months of the Ayade administration, the state performances has appreciably improved as Cross River has moved in the ranking from position 27th to the 20th position; for this, we commend the effort of the government.
We equally support the recent pronouncement by the governor, Senator Ayade that the scholarship program of the state will be reactivated by March, 2016, as well as the current screening exercise of staff by the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) under the leadership of Dr. Steven Odey.
We however take exception to the humiliation and harassment of staff by the screening committee as beamed by the Cross River Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC-TV).
If the Chairman or the committee is suspicious of the certificate or years of graduation of a staff, the sane and civilize thing is to write to the school were the person graduated or treat them humanely; adults deserve civil treatment.
We in CrossRiverWatch are of the strong opinion that much still needs to be done to improve teaching and learning quality and as well provide adequate and serene environment for learning and teaching.
It is true that most of our primary and secondary schools have no perimeter fence, thereby exposing the pupils/students, teachers and other staff to danger.
It also an undeniably fact that some of our children still learn under tree shades, broken doors and windows and poorly ventilated environment, mostly in rural areas thereby exposing them to health hazards.
Since the last year of the previous administration till now, the state owned University has been embroiled in serious financial challenges that have led to incessant strikes, and causing the students to loose several sessions of academic work.
This is adversely affecting the rating of those graduating from the institution which has gone for five years without a convocation ceremony and Governor Ayade too seem not to have found a solution to the issues besetting the school yet.
We in CrossRiverWatch demand that the Cross River State Government and those bodies saddled with the responsibility of managing our educational system at all levels, wake from their slumber by beginning to work out proactive measures and modalities to raise our educational bar to the standard that is globally acceptable.
One of such ways is to as a matter of necessity make available to the public/Cross Riverians important data such as pupils’ enrolment ratios, teacher to pupils ratios, pupils age and sex demographics, drop outs ratios, facility inventory mapping among others.
The above stated data and others are not only meant to be used as working tools for the officials only but also members of the public and other stakeholders in the sector as well as the mass/social media; such data and information are not meant to be hoarded as it is presently done.
Government must equally look into the issue of over crowded schools and classes and the encroachment of cultism and gangsterism into some secondary and even primary schools in the state.
This novel trend constitutes serious threat to both the teachers/staff and other students. Ayade’s government must take drastic action to check this menace.
CrossRiverWatch is aware that most students of schools in Calabar such as Government Secondary school, Akim, Government Secondary school, Uwanse, Government Technical School Mayne Avenue and Technical College Ikot Effanga, are said to be heady to the extent of challenging the teachers and threatening them.
The situation at Government Secondary school, Uwanse is compounded with the presence of the poorly kept arm of the Ministry of Social Welfare building that has been converted into an abode for lunatics and a hiding haven for hoodlums, cultists and other miscreants of the society.
These socially misfit individuals have at several occasion posed grave threat to teachers, staff and students. Government needs to do something urgently about the Uwanse situation in particular and other schools.
From the information available to CrossRiverWatch, it is sad enough that the 2016 state appropriation of N303 Billion as passed by the Cross River State House of Assembly, CRSHA last Thursday, only a shameful and little above N1 Billion was allocated to a sector as important as education by an administration with two professors as Governor and Deputy Governor; a far cry from the 26 percent recommended by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Governor Ayade cannot be said to be a youth and people-friendly governor and at the same time budget such a meagre amount to education which holds the wire of the future as well as the hope of the various industries and projects which the Ayade leadership is currently executing.
Under prevailing circumstances, Cross Riverians demand as a matter of right from those they have entrusted power, to genuinely take proactive steps to build a solid educational sector that will continue to be a harbinger of answers to the questions that Cross River State is facing today, will face tomorrow and in the far future.
This is our position !
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