By Patrick Obia
At least five hundred (500) students in the Cross River Southern senatorial district have benefited from the Teacher Esien Ita Education Trust Fund scholarship.
This was disclosed during the presentation of cheques by the benefactor – Ekpenyong Esien Ita to students and teachers of various schools in Calabar.
In his address shortly before the presentation, the former Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS) journeyed memory lane on the initiative which was conceived by his late wife – late Barrister Temitope Ekpenyong Ita who viewed education as the bedrock of any nation.
He enjoined beneficiaries “to use this opportunity very well” as “to whom much is given, much more is expected.”
His address read in part: “I want to recall that after my re-appointment for a second term as the Director General, State Security Service by former President Goodluck Jonathan, my good friends had wanted to celebrate the re-appointment with a party. However, my late dear wife Barr. Temitope Ekpenyong Ita, objected to what she called a ‘needless and frivolous party.” Instead, she suggested that we should use the money to establish a Trust Fund in memory of her late Father In-law, Teacher Esien Ita Itam.
“The sole aim she emphasized will be for the provision of scholarships to indigent students from Cross River South Senatorial District. She had a very strong conviction that education is the passport to the future because tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. Be that as it may, it is unfortunate that not every family can afford the cost of basic education, in order to prepare their children to adequately cope with the challenges of tomorrow.
“The situation has further been compounded by population growth, especially those of children of school ages. This has been without commensurate growth in educational infrastructure and facilities to match the student’s population growth. It should be noted that when the rate of population growth is faster than the provision of amenities, It forces the people to scramble for the little that is available. The obvious consequences are traffic congestion on roads, roads taken over by refuse, and imbalances in the students-teachers ratio in our hospitals and health centers.
“Accordingly, student population growth demands a corresponding increase in educational facilities, creation of a conducive learning environment, and security for students, teachers, and parents. It includes building, expanding, and renovating schools with a view to making education very interesting and very entertaining. The Trust Fund is advocating the creation of more access to schools, especially in rural areas. Also, there is a need to provide basic amenities in schools in addition to increasing the number of qualified teachers.
“There must be a deliberate plan and policies aimed at improving the welfare of students, especially through increased budgetary allocation and awards of scholarships. Teachers should be encouraged through proper training, tax, and salary incentives, especially those in rural areas. There is a need to increase the number of Teachers majoring in special education and also the need to spread special education schools across the State.
“Importantly the number of children out of school should be drastically reduced through a deliberate effort. It is my firm belief that the dividend of education can only be guaranteed through deliberate investment in education. Also by institutionalizing good, purposeful, and visionary leadership and governance. I also believe in the promotion of social and economic policies that place greater premium and emphasis on human capital development because that is the master key to unlocking the great potential of Cross River State.
“What we are doing today is to contribute our modest quota to human capital development of the State and South Senatorial District in particular. And at the end of today’s occasion, five hundred (500) students must have benefitted from the scholarship scheme. To the beneficiaries, I urge you to use this opportunity very very well. To whom much is given much more is expected. God bless and thank you all.”
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