.(L-R): Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Guest Lecturer, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State and Senator Ben Obi at the 4th Zik Lecture Series held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, on Monday. –
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State says governments at all levels must place a premium on quality education for all as a vehicle to address inequality in the society.
The Governor who was Guest lecturer at the 4th Zik Lecture Series of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka on Monday, noted that Nigeria must restore integrity to public schools and give the child of the poor the same opportunity as the child of the rich.
He said: “Until we have a country where the governor’s child can go to a public school, then we have not got there. Let no one pretend that we have arrived, because in the days of Azikiwe, Ministers’ children were in government schools, today if a minister has a child in a public university, it is because his ministry is not ‘juicy’.
“What is going on around the country today is that we are building a dangerous class society and everybody resorts to private escape route. If the national carrier is dead, everybody buys his own private jet, if the roads are bad, we find a way to escape.
“The crisis of dealing with inequality in our country requires that we have a more structured conversation on some of the fundamentals and these conversations will cut across political class, across political parties.
“We don’t have to be detained by our failed past, but we must learn the correct lessons from that failed past so that we can rebuild.
“When I got to Edo State, the Edo Child was learning on the floor. We had a situation where you have some Primary 1 and Primary 2 pupils in the same classroom, some facing the right, some facing the left and the teachers alternate and parents resorted to ‘miracle centres’ to ensure that their children got admission to the university.
“The good news is that we have replaced those dirty pig houses they called schools with modern classrooms and I insist that the beginning of empowering the people to have the confidence they need is that we must make sure we don’t create a condition that will make the children of the poor to feel inferior from birth.
“This year during the Independence anniversary, we organized a debate between children from so-called ‘high profile’ private schools and children from Edo State-owned government schools that we have rebuilt and I was proud to see that those from government schools did better and won.
“So, if we do not create a platform to enable those who have the talent to take advantage of education and develop their brain and compete, the labourer will give birth to a labourer, to another labourer which will lead to a dynasty of the poor and that is the condition that prevails today in many states.”