During Governor David Nweze Umahi’s presentation of the 2021 budget proposal to Ebonyi State House of Assembly on December 15, 2020, Gov. Umahi had mapped out N23.913bn which is about 19.47% of the total budget to the education sector. This showed his commitment and conscious effort to revamp the sector.
In the words of Nelson Mandela, the former South African President, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
The Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. (Chief) David Nweze Umahi, FNSE, FNATE, being a man with exceptional intelligence did not just internalize these words of Mandela but has pursued it as his educational policy.
When he took over the helms of affairs in Ebonyi in 2015, the educational sector in the state was experiencing a dearth of infrastructure, inadequate teaching staff among other challenges. However, Gov. Umahi rose to the challenges by introducing new all-inclusive educational policies to cater for the divergent needs of Ebonyians. The major thrust of Gov. Umahi’s educational policy is centered on content and quality improvement which has been diligently pursued.
These policies were hinged on the four major pillars of:
- Teachers training;
- Effective monitoring of schools;
- Total overhaul of infrastructures;
- Providing opportunities for skills acquisition.
To give breath to his plans, Gov. Umahi went ahead to establish two government-owned special schools: the Ebonyi State Vocational College and the King David Gifted Children’s Academy. The Governor, as a practicing Engineer, knew that education should not only be academically based but also serve societal needs as well as provide platforms for technically inclined children from the state to achieve their dreams. The Vocational College is designed to take care of children and even adults with unharnessed special skills, and who may have dropped out of school or may not be good theoretically and academically but have technical abilities.
On the other hand, the King David Gifted Children’s Academy is fashioned in the mould of the Federal Gifted Children’s Academy in Suleja, Niger State. The Children’s Academy is established to accommodate children with extraordinary intelligence quotient, also known as child geniuses or prodigy.
According to Victor Hugo wrote: “He who opens a school, closes a prison”.
It is on note that Gov. Umahi has built and attracted more educational institutions in the state since he was elected as the Governor. These include two major Federal Institutions: the Federal Science and Technical College located at Amuzu, Ezza South and the Federal College of Education in Isu, Onicha Local government area; the King David University of Medical Sciences, Uburu among others.
Gov. Umahi is also leaving one of the best legacies in the state in the education sector with the establishment of the King David University of Medical Sciences. The school when completed will not only be the cradle of knowledge but will also be the hub of medical tourism beyond the country and the continent. Hence, rather than travel to the United States, United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, etc to study medicine and other related science programs, Nigerians and other foreigners will find a safe haven in the state-owned institution. This will create an avenue for the generation of revenue especially now that funds coming to states from the Federation Account have dropped.
The education-loving Governor has also promised to complete two other institutions: Aeronautical University and University of Engineering, before the completion of his tenure in 2023.
The Aeronautical University will be sited close to the Ebonyi State International Airport at Onueke. The institution would be providing manpower and resource to the Airport and its staff. This will no doubt reduce the cost of traveling to the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) Zaria, the Kwara State-owned International Aviation College Ilorin or abroad to solve aviation-related issues.
The Engineering University, to be sited in Abakaliki, the state capital, is a tertiary institution entirely dedicated to the study of engineering courses. The essence is to domesticate the field of engineering. This will further open up the state for academic greatness and provide a source of funds for the state.
Governor Umahi’s educational policy further drives at emancipating Ebonyi people from the slavery of illiteracy. It is on record that the state has been classified as an ‘Educationally Disadvantaged States’ – EDS.
The Governor’s effort is also aimed at accommodating the older generations who could not undergo formal academic learning. In doing this, Gov. Umahi through the Ministry of Education under the State Mass Literacy program has established Centres in various local government areas of the state. The Ministry has also established an adult education center, known as the Tehilli Academy at the Margaret Umahi International Market. This is to ensure that traders could be running their businesses and still have the opportunity to acquire academic skills and certificates.
The efforts of Gov. Umahi’s administration in the education sector have had a positive impact on the citizens. The rate of school dropouts in the state has gone down while there has been a geometric increase in the State’s literacy level. This explains why Ebonyi is the only state in the South-East that was selected by the World Bank for its Better Education Service Delivery for All, BESDA program. This attests to the doggedness of the Governor and his unrelenting desire to change the education statistics and status of the State.
To drive home his commitment to rewarding excellence in education, Gov. Umahi has introduced scholarships to the best graduating students at all levels of education and other incentives. This is aimed at giving added impetus to the battle against educational backwardness in the State.
The intervention of Gov. Umahi in the education sector did not go unnoticed. It has attracted the attention of the National Library of Nigeria. The services of the body were launched in the state on September 11, 2020. This shows the wider acceptability of the magnificent works being done by Gov. Umahi in the sector.
By the time the government of Gov. David Nweze Umahi hands over to another Governor in 2023, Ebonyi State will have been positioned to compete favorably in every phase of education, be it in normal academics or skills acquisition. By 2023, Ebonyians will be proud to chorus the words of Malcolm X, who said:
“Education is the best passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”.
Indeed, Engr. David Nweze Umahi has given Ebonyians the best passport that its reward is till eternity, education.
Francis Nwaze Is The Special Assistant to the Governor On Media and Publicity.