This is an opinion piece by Francis Nwaze.
Education is said to be the best gift that any parent could give to his ward(s). Malcolm X, the late United States Rights Activist once said: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”.
But, education without quality is as good as salt that has lost its taste. The result is the production of half-baked individuals parading themselves as an educated person(s) who are more harmful to society. In such a society, these supposedly products of the educational system, become the greatest obstacles to the development of society.
Suffice it to say that Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State understood these implications, hence the establishment of King David Gifted Academy, Abakaliki. To underscore the seriousness he attached to education, the Ebonyi State Government recently declared a state of emergency on children out of school, and charged Ward Councillors and Development Centre Coordinators, Council Chairmen, Stakeholders, EXCO members, etc, to embark on intensive sensitisation
According to Vince Gomwon: “You cannot make people learn. You can only provide the right conditions for learning to happen”.
Ebonyi is one of the economically disadvantaged and educationally-less-developed States in Nigeria, and has been lagging in education-related activities. The few of the indigenes privileged to go through the rigors of education, have proved their mettle.
Education is an important instrument for attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The possibility of achieving these goals without an excellent educational foundation is zero. Thus, the need to revamp the education sector is not just necessary, but sacrosanct.
Going by the plans of the education-loving Governor, the King David Gifted Academy selects 200 pupils from the State’s primary Schools who are the overall best in the Common Entrance Examinations annually. These young lads and lasses will be trained at no cost to their parents. They are giving full scholarships which cover everything ranging from educational materials, fees, medicals, clothing, feeding, accommodation, etc. The only condition for continuous support up to Senior Secondary School 3, is successive maintenance of great academic records.
That singular act means that the only yardstick for admissions and scholarship into King David Gifted Academy, is individual intelligence. Governor Umahi having seen that education and hard work took him to the apogee of his career, has ensured that quality education is extended to all Ebonyians, irrespective of creed, religion, or clan.
The beneficiaries are expected to make the State and their families proud, by maintaining straight 9As in their SSCE. The beneficiaries are not just proud recipients of the magnanimity of the State Governor, but people whom others are envious of.
This ensures that there is healthy competition among pupils in Primary Schools in the State.
In the time past, Ebonyi indigenes were designated as hawkers, house helps, “hewers of wood and fetchers of water”, and nicknamed “Nwa-Abakaliki” (derogatory word depicting their backwardness). One of the reasons behind the establishment of King David’s Gifted Academy is not only to ensure that intelligent child-hawkers are taken out of the streets during school hours, but to provide quality education to every Ebonyi child regardless of their family background.
To enhance academic excellence and effective management of the King David’s Gifted Academy, Governor Umahi, had a few weeks ago handed over the institution to the Catholic Diocese of Abakaliki, to run. This was done with the intent to instill moral and academic values in the students. This confirms what C.S. Lewis said: “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather make a man a more clever devil.” And no society would like to live with a devil not to talk of a clever one.
It is on record that the Catholic Church has been at the forefront of running some of the best educational institutions not just in the country, Nigeria, but the world at large. Thus, with the handing over of King David Gifted Academy, Governor Umahi intends that moral decadence, especially among these Leaders of tomorrow will be curtailed.
In developed countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, etc, the government, corporate bodies, multinationals, alumni associations, and others have been offering scholarships to intelligent persons (local and international students). The essence of it is to harness the academic potentialities of the beneficiaries. They are looking at the socio-economic benefits of the beneficiaries to the society in the long run.
It is laudable to see that Governor Umahi did not only see this whenever he travels out of the country but has been able to replicate the same in Ebonyi. It can only be a man that is out to make his people better than he met them that could do this.
The establishment of the King David’s Gifted Academy and other educational policies of the Governor has been lauded by many including the former Minister of Health, Prof. ABC Nwosu, Iyom Josephine Anenih, Bishop Michael Nnachi Okoro (the recently Retired Catholic Bishop of Abakaliki Diocese, the State’s Commissioner for Education, Dr. Zijl Nwangele, among others.
Ebonyi State is truly working.
Francis Nwaze is the Special Assistant to the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, on Media and Publicity.