Connect with us


The Merits And Prospects Of Sen. Okowa’s Unbundling Of The Education Ministry



Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State

By Richardson Ogwezzy

At the dawn of democracy, one Commissioner of Education in the State was appointed to oversee all tiers and parastatals of education. As we progressed in our democratic experience, it became incontestable among those in governance and stakeholders in education that the lumping together of the various subsectors of education was no longer fashionable and sustainable as it generated administrative clumsiness. This obvious realization inevitably birthed the laudable bifurcation of the ministry into that of Higher Education on the one hand and Basic and Secondary Education on the other hand. Each of the two ministries had its own Commissioner. This consequentially reduced the hitherto cumbersome and administrative work loads of one omnibus Commissioner of Education. And no rocket science is needed to expect a policy review, as it affects education, to translate to visible and effective service delivery.

In the very recent reconstitution of the State Executive Council, His Excellency, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa further rejigged the education sector and created four different ministries of education with four respective Commissioners, each taking charge of a ministry. These ministries include: Primary Education, Basic and Secondary Education, Technical Education and Higher Education. This has attracted some uninformed criticisms published on a few online platforms by certain individuals. For those of us in the education sector, irrespective of our political leanings, this unwarranted criticism smacks of the low point of criticisms of government policies and programmes by such individuals. A little research for valuable information from the armchair critics would have given them an exposé of the propriety of the government action in this area. An overview of the positives and benefits of this policy decision from key players in the education sector(one of whom is the author of this piece), becomes imperative here. Without wanting any undue attention from the policy initiators, I want to emphatically submit that stakeholders in the sector view this decision as uniquely innovative and laudable.

The appointment of four Commissioners of education is in line with the number of ministries in that sector. Unbundling the sector with the attendant effects of eradicating the unnecessary bottlenecks and bureaucracies that had characterised it, is what stakeholders have been clamouring for. We all experientially have seen the dangers and the limitations of lumping together the various tiers and subsectors of education, with so many departments, units, offices and personnel under one ministry with a Commissioner. It is also factually incontrovertible that the education sector has the greatest work force and population (in terms of pupils/students) in the State. As a result of these situations, it is only reasonable that such a sensitive and complex sector be unbundled and decentralized, if we have to keep pace with international best practices across the globe in that sector.

No sound and discerning mind should therefore be at variance with this people-oriented development policy.
Again, education places emphasis and premium on specialization and professionalism. The various education ministries have their different and specialized goals and objectives, both from the personnel (administrators/staff) and the beneficiaries (pupils/students) – trainers and trainees. In line with government policy statement on the unambiguously documented goals of the various subsectors/Ministries of Education in the State, government has taken this decisive action for the seamless actualization of those specialized and professionalized goals.

Furthermore, it is only in ignorance that one can argue that such action of clearly delineating responsibilities is a wastage of resources. On the contrary, it is an action geared towards concise and precise administration of the sector with the positive consequence of prudence in the management of understandably scarce resources in the State – a situation that is both national and global. We affirm that this delineation of each of those subsectors in education is an economy -management action because the tiers are not new establishments in the sector; they have long been existing with different boards and directorate, all of which had long explicated the distinction of one ministry from the other. It was therefore better for each sector to be managed by a separate ministry and be headed by a Commissioner for each of them in order to give room for more effective implementation of their set goals.

By way of further exposition and enlightenment, education in Nigeria, and Delta State in particular, has suffered long time neglect over the years.*Therefore, having Commissioners for each of the sectors will make it easier for the various ministries to make up for those longstanding negligence. The specialism that the precision of overseeing a manageable size of a sector brings, has the advantage of being able to clearly articulate the remote and proximate causes of the negligence. This would decisively culminate in obviating the complexities and placing the ministry on the cherished pedestal towards unravelling the potentials and prospects of such ministries.*

ALSO READ: Delta @30: PDP Youth Alliance Felicitates With Okowa, Deltans 

I mentioned, albeit in passing, the benefits accruing to staff and personnel of the various ministries in their distinct status. However, more precisely now, it is important to state that passable attention will be given to the demands of staff for improved welfare as enshrined in their conditions of service. An indispensable area here is staff development. In the remote past when an appointed Commissioner has a career or interest in one of the many subsectors, there was the high propensity that he displayed some level of lopsidedness, no matter how unnoticeable, in handling issues of staff welfare when requests and programmes would require his attention. But with subsequent conversion of subsectors into independent ministries and the appointment of separate Commissioners, better focus on these problems has been achieved. The result that also comes with such exactitude and concentration invariably endears the Commissioner of a ministry to the government in such a manner that his genuine request for the welfare and development of staff under his ministry is constructively attended to.

Another advantage of the separation of the education subsectors into independent Ministries of Education is that it creates corresponding effectiveness in the monitoring and inspectorate functions of government. By this arrangement, each ministry focuses on institutions within its jurisdiction, without distractions.

As I mentioned above, a few individuals have seen the appointments of four Commissioners for the education ministries as a wasteful venture. Such argument is not only abstruse logic but also irrational and insensitive to the yearnings of the citizenry to improved and accessible education in the State. No expenditure on education is a waste so long as it makes the sector better repositioned to achieve its set goals and objectives in line with the policy thrust of government.

Despite the relevance of education in the country, observation has shown that the attention paid to the education sector in the country is abysmally insignificant. All tiers of government in Nigeria are making frantic efforts to salvage the situation. Though every effort made by government seems not to yield desired results but the seeming courage-waning syndrome cannot deter a focus-driven and sane government from careful planning and incessant provision of innovations that should bring about improvement in the education sector.

Consequently, appointing four Commissioners for four Ministries of Education is not an unnecessary experiment but a right step in the right direction. Deltans should be encouraged to embrace such practical demonstration of strategic and innovative thinking.

Richardson Ogwezzy is a Statistician as well as an Educational Administrator, presently teaching at Girls’ Secondary School, Kwale


Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Trending News