IMPLEMENTING FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN AKWA IBOM STATE THROUGH RESOURCES AVAILABILITY: A PANACEA FOR ACHIEVEMENT OF EDUCATION FOR ALL (EFA)

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IMPLEMENTING FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN AKWA IBOM STATE THROUGH RESOURCES AVAILABILITY: A PANACEA FOR ACHIEVEMENT OF EDUCATION FOR ALL (EFA)

Education is an investment on human being, the investment and characteristics
of education given by the society can easily be assessed by the quality of its products.
The input is assessed by the output. It is a truism that the success of an education
system depends on effective and efficient utilization of quality and quantity resources
made available to schools. Schools resources in any situation imply the totality of
everything which the school’s system needs for its smooth running and that include
money, man and materials available in the realization of the organizational goals.
Denga (1996) described educational resources as the human capital and the technical
capital used in attainment of educational goals and objectives. The degree of provision
and utilization of educational inputs may affect the performance of a school and its
programmes. Udoh (1998) stated that the selection and use of educational resources
depend on its availability, the characteristics of the resources, the objectives of the
educational programmes, and the level of civilization of that society.
Over the years, education has been ranked as the best legacy any conscientious
leader, government or parent could leave for her/his people. This is increasingly
important because the quality of education given to a people determines the standard of
growth achieved. This anchors the Federal Government’s statement that education has
been adopted as an instrument par excellence for effective national development (FRN,
1981). Education not only eliminates ignorance and superstition from those who pursue
it, but also frees their minds for quicker perception of issues; it inspires the spirit of
enquiry and experimentation, and stimulates creativity and innovation (Otu, Charles &
Akpabio, 2011).
Amaele (2001) asserted that free education means the establishment of various
kinds of schools and expansion of school curriculum to make each child develop
according to his or her ability, age and interest. It includes the establishment and
provision of library facilities, technical and vocational equipment, recruitment and
retention of qualified and adequate man power. It means tuition free; free feeding, free
books, free accommodation, free transportation, uniform and other personal needs of
World Educators Forum3 the learners. Free education entails the removal of every socio-cultural impediment to education. The sum total of all these, makes education free. The partial implementation of the above can never qualify the system as free because the presence of any one of the above constitutes constraint to the child’s access to education.
The popular assumption in Nigeria today is that there is free and compulsory
education, at least up to the Junior Secondary level. The above assumption was built on
the launching of the “Universal Basic Education Scheme” in 1999. The scheme aims at
providing free, compulsory universal basic education for every Nigerian child of
school-going age. The essence of any programme is its workability and of course,
education is about functionality. Jaiyeoba and Atanda (2004) identified three main
subsystems of education, which are policy formulations, management and
implementation. They argued that there is a wide gap between the policy formulation
and implementation, the former sets the standard and criteria for evaluating the
accomplishments of the organization. The concept of free education re-echoes in almost
every education related document in Nigeria. For instances, section 18 (3) of the 1999
constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states: “Government shall strive to
eradicate illiteracy and to this end, government shall and when practicable provide:
a) Free, compulsory and universal primary education
b) Free secondary education
c) Free adult literacy programme
The launching of the Universal Basic Education Programme was a strong
evidence of Nigeria’s commitment to different international conventions for the
promotion of Basic Education. These include; the Jomtein Declaration of 1999 on the
promotion of basic education for all, and the New Delhi Declaration of 1991 requiring
stringent effort by the E-9 countries to reduce drastically; illiteracy within the shortest
time frame (Salami, 2004).
The best legacy any leader can give to its citizen, it is said, is education. That
time-tested truism seems to be the guiding principles of Governor Godswill Akpabio of
Akwa Ibom State, who has not only declared free education for his people but makes it
compulsory for every Akwa Ibomite up to SS3. The scheme was launched in 2009 with
distribution of free exercise books to schools, science and introductory technology
equipments for science laboratories and technology workshops; books for libraries etc.
Governor Akpabio argued that illiteracy compound poverty, while education does not
only enlightens but also empowers. The Governor also announced subvention to
schools (N300 per student per term in secondary schools; N100 per pupil, per term in
primary schools). The money is meant to assist head teachers and principals to provide
some logistics such as the purchase of diesel, chalks, and other materials. Apart from
the subvention, the governor also released millions of naira for payment of
NECO/SSCE and NABTEB registration examination for Akwa Ibom candidates in
public schools. Free education is expensive but Governor Akpabio said it is the best
way to spend funds; investing in the future.
It is instructive that immediately after the free education policy of the Akpabio
administration was announced, enrolments in schools tripled. This has not been
matched with the right number of teachers, school desks and classroom blocks hence
sitting on the windows to receive lessons becomes an advantage for some students as so
many others are found standing in or around the classrooms due to lack of space in the
classrooms. Yet, the question many still ask is: How free is education in Akwa Ibom
State. For instance, going by Amaele’s (2001) assertion of free education; one can
infers that Akwa Ibom is having a partial implementation of free education. For as
Amaele (2001) put it “free education means tuition free, free feeding, free books, free
accommodation, free transportation, free uniform and other personal needs of the
learner, that the partial implementation of the above does not qualify a system as free”.
Okobiah (2003) stated that the architectural space, light, temperature, sound, furniture
constitute the physical environment of the classroom. Vosko and Humstra (1998)
identified the idea of physical learning environment to include anthropometry,
ergonomics, proximics and synaesthetics. Anthropometry deals with design of
furniture, equipment and space that will meet the learning needs of the students.
Okobiah (2003) suggested that tables and chairs are better for writing than when desks
are attached, although they occupy more space. The size of the classroom may be
standardized for 40 students but in most cases, this number is tripled. Could such a
situation support effective learning in Akwa Ibom State’s free and compulsory
education prgoramme? This then brings in the concept of ergonomics which Awotua-
Efebo (2004) described as the study of the comfort of those that occupy a space or use a
particular piece of equipment. Mbakwem (2005) observed that some secondary schools
may have enough classrooms in terms of the numbers of the available classes but not
enough tables, desks and chairs. The issues here include whether students are
comfortable in the classrooms, whether students have enough desks and chairs?
Moreso, do students, including handicapped students occupy the seats comfortably?
Udoh (2008) asserted that in classrooms, it is not sufficient to have seats but
the seats should be arranged in such a manner that students can be moved around for
group discussions and group work. The seats should be comfortable for students,
should permit free mobility and allow for adequate and comfortable body postures.
Okobiah (2003) recommended that adequate number of seats that are convenient to the
student should be supplied to all the secondary schools based on the school enrolment
figure and other instructional materials including classroom furniture that are
qualitative and suitable to the learning needs of the pupils, if the products of the
World Educators Forum5  schools in the state is to meet the standard of Education for All (EFA) by the year 2020. Obanya (2000) stated that the aims and objectives of free and compulsory
education programme which have been tried for a decade in Nigeria and Akwa Ibom
State in particular are capable of being achieved if the government adopts more
appropriate approaches for improving public enlightenment and social mobilization for
community involvement, engage in data collection and analysis, get experts
involvement in planning, monitoring and evaluation; handle prudently teacher’s
recruitment, education, training and retraining and motivating teachers for high
productivity, provide infrastructural facilities, enriched curricula, text books and
instructional materials; improve funding and management of the entire process. It is the
coordination of the resources made available to free and compulsory education scheme
that will produce quality graduates from the educational programme. Babalola (2006)
maintained that school managers must carefully and effectively handle educational
resources and facilities (money materials, and human resources) put under their
custody. This is important because accountability in education demands that rightly
qualified teachers be recruited in adequate quantity and deployed to school to perform
instructional tasks.
Free and compulsory education is suffering financial set backs in Nigeria and
Akwa Ibom State is not an exception because it was not adequately budgeted for. The
poor allocations to the education sector are at variance with the UNESCO provisions
that 26% of the total budget in developing countries should go to the education sector.
For instance, the Federal Government of Nigeria’s budgets/allocations to education in
2008, 2009 and 2010 were 6.5%, 6.0% and 4.3% respectively (Federal Ministry of
Finance, Abuja) while that of Akwa Ibom were 0.31%, 0.54%, 0.34% and 0.53% for
2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively (Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Finance, Uyo).
Finance is a crucial factor that determines the extent of human and materials resources
that can be provided. In the words of Salami (2004), a plan without a large budget
surplus will get nowhere.

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IMPLEMENTING FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN AKWA IBOM STATE THROUGH RESOURCES AVAILABILITY: A PANACEA FOR ACHIEVEMENT OF EDUCATION FOR ALL (EFA)

 

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