Expanding The Frontiers Of Education: Uwajumogu Example
What does UNESCO, Gov. Rochas Okorocha and Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu have in common? Love for education. The UNESCO, the UN agency responsible for global education development holds that education is the key to societal development and stability. Consequently, it made case for the sector by pegging ideal national budgetary allocation to education at 26% of total annual budget. The crusade of implementation has remained on high in the aftermath of that recommendation.
Gov. Rochas Okorocha’s 2011 guber campaign had education as its central theme. ‘Let education be free so that children of the poor can equally go to school’ he ceaselessly canvassed in the course of his campaign trail. The campaign cut on and culminated in the landslide victory of the governor. Today, the governor is walking his talk. Education is now free across board in the state.
As the controller of the second power base in the state, Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu wasted no time after inauguration to queue behind Gov. Okorocha. Like the governor he totally subscribed to the concept of free education especially in the state in general and Ihitte Uboma in particular. He had always said that the youths and children of today needed good and qualitative education if we were to dream of tomorrow.
Talking about a better tomorrow, the speaker has for long been investing in the future. That was in his capacity as a private individual before his election and subsequent elevation to speakership. Back then he had tirelessly worked for the provision of employment opportunities for youths. This came through the establishment of companies in the tourism and hospitality sector of the economy. He as well floated a scholarship scheme that has with his foray into public service been expanded to accommodate more students. A man whose large heart is legendary and milk of human kindness incomparable Hon. Uwajumogu’ scholarship scheme is at the moment tinkering with the idea of further expansion and jerking up of beneficiaries entitlements to cope with the surging demand that became obvious this year.
As pointed out earlier, the scholarship scheme which underwent expansion beginning from 2011 has made remarkable strides. Just recently the 2014 process was concluded with camping of successful beneficiaries for 14 days. The camping exercise which includes provision of all educational materials as well as food was organized to give the students adequate preparation for the Federal Government common entrance Exams.
The idea behind this initiative according to the coordinator of the scheme Lady Oluchi Igwe is to make their products come tops in the competitive examination. Of course, attaining this lofty height is no mean feat, which in the main is responsible for the hiring of well trained and experienced teachers to handle the students during the programme.
Away from the Federal Exams, 2013/2014 scholarship examination met all laid down criteria of the initiators. From its conception till now, speaker Umwajumogu has always reiterated that his objective was to touch the vulnerable segment of the society—the poorest of the poor, orphans and the destitute. At the same time, gifted children are targeted by the scheme with the aim of harnessing their lead God given talents for the development of their families and society as a whole.
Overall this year’s examination was taken by a total of 93 students spread across all the wards of Ihitte Uboma. Because the whole process was very transparent as parents and other stakeholders agreed, competing students had no other option than to give their very best. This energetic participation raised the bar of competition to a level that arriving at the ceiling of 40 was quite a daunting task. But, thanks to the experienced and well motivated markers, the successful candidates list eventually was released after many hours of waiting by parents and students.
Expectedly, parents of those that could not go through warmly congratulated the speaker, coordinator and others involved in the process. To then it met their expectations and consequently deserve praise even though their wards were going home empty handed. It was similar sentiment for those whose kids succeeded. Mr. Livinus Ibenaka (aka Engineer) effusively lauded Hon Uwajumogu for not only initiating but sustaining the good work for a long time. The coordinator and other organizers of the transparent process also received kudos from the excited parents.
Remarkably, this year’s intake was increased to 40 from the traditional 35 to accommodate more candidates in view of the excellent performance of many of them.
With the successful completion of the current academic year’s intake the scheme since re-modeling has given educational succor to over 110 students. These students are spread across private and public schools as well as outside and within Ihitte Uboma. All this time, there has been strict adherence to the rules laid down by the sponsor resulting in the equitable spread of the beneficiaries. This is why no chapter or ward of the council has ever complained of marginalization or favoritism.
Using this scheme as platform, the sponsor has equally pursued other initiatives delicately geared towards given education a pride of place. In particular, he has committedly undertaken the task of seeing to it that his council and indeed, Okigwe Zone gets its fair share of the 305 classrooms blocks of the Rescue Mission education programme. This dogged pursuit has yielded commensurate dividends as all the six councils of the zone and eleven (11) electoral wards of Ihitte Uboma are taking delivery of the brand new structures.
No doubt, this struggle is timely against the back-drop of burgeoning students and pupils population explosion in public schools. Findings conducted in Ihitte Uboma alone revealed that almost all schools in the area have tripled their intake since these laudable pro-education initiatives. This rise of course deserves to be given meaning to through commensurate provision of classroom blocks and other facilities. Hopefully, this need would soon be met with the completion of all ongoing projects.
Hon. Uwajumogu also took this education mantra to a new height with the foundation laying of Imo College of Education (Technical). Again, that auspicious ceremony provided us an insight into how much Gov. Okorocha and Hon. Uwajumogu love and cherish education. To the people of OKigwe, Zone and indeed, all Imolites that foundation laying ceremony was clearly a demonstration that both the state executive and legislature are practically committed to expanding the frontiers of free, qualitative and value driven education.
Hear Gov. Okorocha “This foundation laying for this technical college of education the first of its kind in the state is another demonstration of not just our commitment to education but commitment to education that would add value to our youths. We have come to realize that technical education for skills and entrepreneurial skills has become key to technological advancement all over the world. And because our state is being positioned by this administration to show the way in all spheres of development in the future it is our position that every aspect of education be accorded priority.”
Hon. Uwajumogu was even more excited and fulfilled on the occasion for the singular reason that the institution is his brainchild. He went down history to recall how Okigwe Zone has been at the receiving end of successive administrations education policies. These policies he posited were responsible for the absence of any state or Federal higher institution in the zone. To make matters worse, the school of Engineering which was allotted to the zone in the three campus structure of the state owned University has remained on the pipelines without any concrete action towards its full actualization.
Against this backdrop Okigwe zone had remained completely cut off educationally from the state. But when Gov. Okorocha arrived and initiated the policy of addressing our Okigwe’s decades of marginalization we knew the hour of respite has come. So, we moved in with the proposal and it was immediately approved. That is why we are all here today. Gov. Okorocha has again made history and Okigwe people would pay him back in his own coin. Uwajumogu rounded off rather prophetically.
There is need for Okigwe Zone to appreciate and celebrate this gift. Apart from the primary objective of affording our youths the opportunity of skills acquisition for self and family enhancement, the institution is sure to open a vast opportunity for employment for Ndi Okigwe. With employment, poverty, misery and rural urban migration would be reduced drastically. Besides it would engender development as staff, students and workers who are not Okigwe origin are bound to live in the area.
Infarct, like every higher institution the Imo State College of Education, Technical is bound to drastically alter the environment of its host community in particular and Okigwe Zone in general for the good of the people and that of Imolite in general. Surely, that would make it the greatest legacy Hon. Uwajumogu and by extension, the present administration would bequeath Okigwe Zone. It is also sure as daylight that people would return in equal measure their gratitude to them for touching and changing their lives forever.
In the present dispensation of governance, Hon. Uwajumogu by dint of hard work and sacrifice has stood as a legislator par excellence. His service delivery to his people of Ihitte Uboma and Okigwe since he assumed office has been unparalleled. No wonder, he is almost a cult hero especially among youths who have continued to enjoy his generosity. Having gone so far, it is no over statement to say Hon. Uwajumogu has done well. Everybody confesses that, what however, everybody is silently praying is that he remains firmly on track now and in the future.
Congratulations and Happy third year anniversary Mr. Speaker and proactive Members of Imo State House of Assembly.
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