EDUCATION is the most potent tool of changing the world and proper education is the bedrock of any true and successful society- ¬Anonymous
The world is constantly changing and all of its sectors and institutions are in an endless flux and dynamics. Evidently, what hitherto constituted leadership, economy, business and even human relations have notably changed; thus, proper education is needed, especially by the younger generation upon whom the great future lies, to effectively manage this change to the advantage of humanity.
It was in an apparent recognition of this invaluable value of education that the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration rode on the crest of the prosperity for all Deltans mantra with an alluring five point agenda that was ostensibly codenamed the “SMART Agenda”.
In its general value, the Okowa SMART Agenda seeks to birth a veritable road map that will lead the oil rich Delta State to the path of sustainable development and visible prosperity where every Deltan will be a proud Chief Executive Officer of his or her own enterprise and, in the long run, contribute immensely to the development and growth o f the state.
To realise this dream that had been hitherto thought impossible and perceived by some naysayers as a white elephant project, the Governor Okowa administration has successfully repositioned the state technical colleges at Sapele, Ofagbe and Agbor, upgraded the state polytechnics at Ozoro, Ogwashi-Uku and Otefe, just as the state government-owned university campuses at Abraka, Oleh and Asaba have received some redefining touches.
Besides, a due slant has been shifted to what should constitute the quality of education in all schools in the state following Governor Okowa’s consistent charge on school authorities to focus on the task of bequeathing practical knowledge and skills to students as against the conventional and counter-productive focus on paper qualifications.
All these feats have proven the determination spirit in the prosperity Governor and portrayed him as a public administrator who is bent on delivering other gains of democracy to Deltans who gave him an overwhelming support at the keenly contested 2015 gubernatorial polls.
Nonetheless, besides the huge efforts of Governor Okowa at rebranding the educational sector, the Team SMART for Okowa, a socio-political group that has been making concerted efforts to spread activities of the Okowa administration and build a pan-Deltan consensus in favour of Governor Okowa ahead of the 2019 electoral race, recently made a sincere and laudable move to complement and consolidate on the gains of the Okowa’s government in the education sector.
By nature, the Team SMART for Okowa is comprised of Deltans who have resolved to contribute their intellectual and material resources towards the translation of the SMART Agenda into a lofty reality that Deltans will always remember with true feelings of satisfaction. Apart from showcasing the successes of Okowa’s government, the team has also evolved various empowerment initiatives, including the Green SMART Agricultural initiative, SMART Digital Awareness, SMART Knowledge Development and the SMART Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society (MPCS) programmes.
While the other initiatives have been in progress, the SMART Knowledge Development initiative recently took a positive twist with the constitution of the Okowa Education Committee which was saddled with the responsibility of organising free extra-mural lectures for all young Deltans in Junior Secondary School two and three and Senior Secondary School two and three levels.
Led by the Special Assistant to Governor Okowa on Community Development, Hon. Sunny Obi, the Okowa Education Committee perfected all arrangements concerning the programme and commenced the free lecture tagged “Okowa Free Lesson” about two weeks ago with a centre at Osadenis High School and Uzoigwe Primary School both in Asaba, the state capital city.
The programme was officially flagged-off at a remarkably brief ceremony that was attended by eminent Deltans, including the Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Nicholas Azinge, his Special Duties, Government House counterpart, Hon. Henry Sakpra, the Head of Service in the state, Mr. Reginald Bayoko and representatives of the Oshimili South Local Government Council Chairman, Barr. Chuks Obusom and the Senior Political Adviser to Governor Okowa, Chief Festus Ochonogor, among others.
In his speech, the Director-General of Team SMART for Okowa, Hon. Sunny Orishedere disclosed that the scheme is being jointly sponsored by the Team SMART Board of Trustees and philanthropic individuals, adding that though the Okowa Free Lesson was attended by about 400 students at its inception, the growing population of its beneficiaries has risen to 1,025 students at the point of the flag-off ceremony.
Pointing out the multiplier effects of the scheme, Orishedere who has guided Team SMART through the thick and thin, said the initiative will complement the education enhancement efforts of the state government, deter students from indulging in vices and reduce the academic burden of parents who may not be able to afford the monetary demand of such qualitative extra-moral lessons being offered at no cost in the Okowa free Lesson.
“It is pertinent to mention that a survey carried out indicates that these children across the state need help to reposition and redirect their mindset if they are to develop as leaders of tomorrow. We are running this programme alongside with the Computer Based Test (CBT) Appreciation Programme that will prepare them for the use of computers during examinations.
“We therefore appeal to the sponsors of this programme not to be weary because God knows that children are dire need of this help that you are giving to them. Your support to one child has helped three persons; that is, the child, his or her parents and his or her brother/sister”, the Director General said.
He assured that the Okowa Free Lesson will be sustained and spread to other parts of the state in few weeks’ time, commending all the sons and daughters of Oshimili South Local Government Area who have supported the scheme in their domain. While flagging-off the programme, Hon. Sakpra who was visibly impressed by the initiative, doffed his hat for the leadership and entire membership of Team SMART, noting that when the programme was initiated, “no one knew that it will get to this giant stage”. He described the programmed as “laudable”, particularly as it puts children from poor backgrounds into consideration.
Dr. Azinge who also made a brief remark recalled how he had attended a similar free extra-moral lesson some years while he was still at the basic stage of his education, urging the students to make a judicious use of the opportunity to improve on themselves.
He commended Team SMART for embarking on a people-oriented project, promising to support the scheme as much as possible.
On his part, Mr. Bayoko said he was “grateful to God for witnessing the occasion”, observing that his support for the programme comes on a double foundation. He challenged the students to reciprocate The good gesture of Team SMART by exploring the opportunity to its fullest and excelling in their academic pursuit.
Chief Ochonogor who was represented at event described the Okowa Free Lesson as a sincere effort to deliver the gains of democracy to young Deltans, regretting that many politicians are guilty of abandoning their campaign promises after they are voted into power.
Speaking to journalists, Hon. Sunny Obi, the Chairman of the Okowa Education Committee, explained that the programme is aimed at assisting Deltans who are preparing for certificate examinations to excel, adding that it will place the state on a higher academic pedestal in the committee of others in Nigeria.
A high point of the ceremony was the inspection of the various classrooms by the commissioners and other guests who admonished the students to be studious and determined in their academic career. Some of the students who spoke with journalists commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the leadership of Team SMART for directly incorporating them into their programmes, claiming that they have never had it as good as they are having it now.
BY JOSHUA ERUBAMI