The Osun State government yesterday inaugurated the Salvation Army Middle School in Osogbo, the state capital.
The school is one of the 100 elementary, 50 middle and 20 high schools being built under the O’School initiative.
Parents and pupils defied the rain to witness the event.
Governor Rauf Aregbesola said the inauguration was a reaffirmation that Osun’s education policy is “a train engineered for a one-way trip to success”.
He said O’School was conceived at the education summit organised by his administration when he assumed office to address infrastructural decay in public schools.
Aregbesola said: “The summit was to address the decay we met in public schools, which we found unacceptable. The summit, attended by eminent Nigerians like the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, came up with a reform blueprint to overhaul the public education sector.
“We have since been working assiduously to implement the reforms. The inauguration of this school is evidence that all is going as planned with our reform. As part of the reform, we decided to reorganise the school system into Elementary, Middle and High School categories.
“The Elementary Level, comprising pupils aged 6 to 9 corresponds with primary 1 to 4 in the existing system. The Middle Level is from primary 4 to Junior Secondary School (JSS III) for pupils aged 10 to 14, now classified as Grades 5 to 9. The High School Level covers ages 15 to 17 and corresponds with the Senior Secondary School III (SS III), known as Grades 10-12.”
Aregbesola said the Elementary and Middle Schools would each accommodate 900 pupils, while the High School is to accommodate 3,000 pupils.
He said the High Schools had a mega structure, comprising three schools with facilities for all subjects, including state-of-the-art laboratories, as well as recreation centres and a food court.
The governor said: “The overall aim of the reforms we are carrying out is to develop the new man intellectually, socially and morally. This new man is placed in the centre of the society where he views his development as part of and for the development of the society.
“This is a non-parasitic and non-oppressive man, who views his existence in the light of the growth of others. He views whatever he acquires to be subsumed in the overall interest of others. He is a man in himself and a man for society. This is the Omoluabi essence.”
Aregbesola urged parents to support the government by preparing their wards for the new system and dressing them up in the new uniform.
He said the government’s investment in education was already paying off with the improved performance of pupils in examinations.
The governor said besides the distribution of the Opon Imo (tablet of knowledge) and the school feeding programme, the economic ramification of the education reform was colossal.
He said: “Some 3,000 women have been employed for the Elementary feeding programme. This is in addition to the gains it has brought to the production capacity of farmers, who supply farm produce, poultry and beef for the food.”
Deputy Governor Mrs. Titi Laoye-Tomori, who doubles as the Commissioner for Education, said although the project did not come cheap, it was the crowning glory of the administration’s revolutionary agenda in the education sector.
Mrs. Laoye-Tomori said: “I feel like break-dancing, even at my age. I am excited and feel fulfilled. I thank God that I am alive to see the coming to fruition of a vision conceptualised and deployed by my indefatigable governor.”
Vice-Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Education Sola Adeyeye said any nation that did not invest in the education of its youths would fail.
Adeyeye, who represents Osun Central Senatorial District, hailed the governor’s commitment in revamping education.
The professor of Molecular Biology said while many states have not accessed the UBEC funds because they could not contribute their counterpart fund, Osun had accessed it because it did not wait for the Federal Government to contribute its counterpart fund.
O’School Chairman Otunba Lai Oyeduntan said the state of education in the state was embarrassing before Aregbesola assumed office.
Oyeduntan said by the end of the year, 15 Middle, 13 Elementary and 10 High schools would be ready.
House of Assembly Speaker Najeem Salam said the administration’s policies had revived the education sector.
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