The man behind the scene on the quality, discipline and performances of the new face of educational sector in the State of Osun, Dr. Isiaka Ayodele Owoade spoke with Adesoji Omosebi (SOJ WORLDWIDE) on the success achieved, his challenges, his relationship with the state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola and what to expect in the 2018 WAEC and NECO results.
Dr. Owoade is an achiever who has been able to turn things around in terms of studentsâ€™ performance and discipline within a year he was appointed as the Executive Chairman, Osun Education Quality Assurance and Morality Enforcement Agency. It is now a taboo seeing students roaming the streets during school hours, penalty have been attached.
Dr Owoade is a graduate of University of Ibadan from where he obtained the Bachelor of Science degree in Geology. He also holds the M.Sc and PhD degrees of the University of Technology, Loughborough UK. He is an academician, a businessman and a politician. He is an alumnus of the prestigious Commonwealth Scholarships Commission, United Kingdom.
The hitherto derided public schools are now being turned around and have now become the darling and toast of many. Many parents have withdrawn their children from private to public schools because of the noticeable improvement in the quality of education rendered by public schools since the advent of the Aregbesola administration.
Last month the Seventh Day Adventist School Ede and Osogbo Government High Schools, both government schools, came first and second respectively at the Annual Redeemersâ€™ Quiz Competition defeating all private schools in the state.
SOJ Worldwide: What are your roles and functions in the educational sector?
Osun Education Quality Assurance and Morality Enforcement Agency was created in August 2016. It is a Federal requirement that each state must have an agency dealing with education quality assurance. At the federal level, there is the National Education Quality Assurance Board (NEQAB).
Each state is supposed to have its own agency dealing with Education Quality Assurance. In Osun, this agency is also mandated to enforce morality in our schools, hence ours is called Osun Education Quality Assurance and Morality Enforcement Agency.
Its functions are well spelt out, to ensure that teaching and learning outcomes in pre-tertiary education meet set national standards and objectives. The National Handbook on Education Quality Assurance contains the criteria used in assessing the quality of each school. There are seven thematic areas, namely,
â€¢ Leadership and Management
â€¢ Achievement and Standards
â€¢ Learnersâ€™ Personal Skills and Participation
â€¢ Quality of Teaching and Learning
â€¢ Quality of Curriculum and Other Activities
â€¢ Quality of Care, Guidance and Safety
â€¢ Quality of the Learning Environment
In the State of Osun, we implement our mandate through intensive monitoring of schools. We have trained quality assessors that go into schools and spend three to five days examining different aspects of the school’s operations. Our findings will be used in grading the school as excellent, good, satisfactory or poor as the case may be.
We also have morality (discipline) enforcement included in our mandate, we ensure pupils attend school, not wandering about the streets. A special scheme, Education Marshals was launched in May 2017 with the mandate to clear our streets of loitering students with a view to eradicating truancy.
We are also concerned about discipline of teachers, that they conduct themselves in the best way possible and are good role models for the pupils. That they keep all the required records, and attend classes regularly and punctually. We do all of these so that Osun pupils get an education that is of the highest standards possible.
SOJ Worldwide: When were you appointed by the governor?
I was appointed exactly August 22, 2016 to take over the inspectorate services of Ministry of Education, inspectorate services of SUBEB, and those of the three Education District Offices. All these have been merged to form Osun Education Quality Assurance and Morality Enforcement Agency.
SOJ Worldwide: What impact have you made at revamping the stateâ€™s educational sector and what are your results?
One year is too short to measure our impact. The state has recorded substantial improvement in the performance of our students in WAEC results since the Aregbesola administration came in 2010. We met the result at 21%, 2016 results was 46.7% and 2017 was 44.6%. This improvement in performance can be attributed to the various interventions in education by way of improved infrastructure, regular training and motivation of teachers and measures to stem indiscipline. Learning and teaching outcomes have vastly improved.
In its one year of existence, the Quality Assurance agency has focussed on measures to ensure long-term stability and productivity in the education sector. We are gradually changing attitudes, changing the way Principals and teachers do things. It will take some time before the impact begins to reflect. We are taking a number of initiatives which in the long run we believe will impact positively.
SOJ Worldwide: People have been criticizing the same school uniform policy of the students, that should any student commit any offence, it would be impossible to identify the student, the school the student belongs. What do you have to say on this?
Let me give you a scenario, there is this Yoruba adage, â€˜â€™a calabash is lost and you said you have a mark on it, isnâ€™t it only when you find the calabash you begin to talk of the mark on it?â€™â€™
The same thing, let us say you met a particular student committing an offence, if you catch him, regardless of the colour or type of uniform he/she is wearing, he/she will face the appropriate punishment. However, if an offending student runs away, the uniform (common or unique) is of no help in bringing him to book. If you catch a student, the student himself will say which school he belongs and you can hand him over to the school authority.
The government has approved the inclusion of badges on uniforms for identification.
The introduction of standardised uniform was informed by the desire to further industrialise the state by large scale tailoring operations. The industry that was formed for this, Omoluabi Garments Industry is staffed by Osun indigenes. They were trained in industrial operations. Having acquired the skill to operate the sophisticated machines, a majority have now left Omoluabi to start their own independent operations. The strategy worked positively for the state. We donâ€™t see same uniform as an issue as far as teaching and learning outcomes are concerned. There are several countries in the world where students wear a common uniform.
SOJ Worldwide: The perspective you are looking at it is not the way people are looking at it
All the policies of the administration were thoughtfully conceived and implemented. Critics are often ill-informed or politically-motivated. We wanted to industrialise the state and one quick way is same uniform. And since Omoluabi Garments was established in the state, I understand that they now sew army uniform which is more business coming into the state. It was a well thought out policy to the state in the long run.
SOJ Worldwide: What are the challenges you are facing in your official capacity as the Chairman of Education Quality Assurance…?
I want to acknowledge the governor, he has been supportive to the agency, he gave us a take-off grant, he has done his own bit approving virtually every proposal we took to him. But like many other agencies of government, we have to wait for money to be available in order to implement most of the programs we want to do. So, funding is limited but like it is everywhere, there is paucity of funds.
Principals and teachers have been very cooperating, they are aware of our presence now. There is improvement in attitude to work, orientation and quality of service rendered to the students.
Overtime, what we are doing will bear positive results. I wonâ€™t say there is any challenge that is peculiar to the agency, other agencies are also facing similar challenges.
SOJ Worldwide: There was this complaint about non-availability of qualified teachers in the schools which resulted into poor performance of students in WAEC and NECO results. What do you have to say on this?
There is no time we have problems with qualified teachers, all our teachers are highly qualified. I donâ€™t know if you have done some census of private school teachers, there is no private school that can boast of the calibre of teachers we have in the State of Osun.
We have the problem of balanced distributions, some schools have more teachers than they need while some donâ€™t have enough but we are trying to balance the school with the requisite type of teachers.
In terms of quality, our teachers are okay, they are well trained and there is still constant training organized also for them like the body of principals (ANCOPPS) and also Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT).
Only yesterday I was at this Seminar of Vice-Principals, so we are okay with quantity and quality of teachers in the service.
SOJ Worldwide: Can you please give us your statistic results before your assumption of office and what are we expecting in the next WAEC and NECO results?
We are constantly implementing measures to improve the quality of education and performance. These include training of teachers, improved record keeping, quality assurance visitations, unscheduled inspection of schools, etc. These efforts are intended to produce the best from government investment in education. We will continue to monitor and review all aspects of our quality assurance operations such that future results are better than what we currently have. We are working towards achieving a 100% pass rate in WASCE in the next two to three years.
SOJ Worldwide: How would you sustain the legacy of Ogbeni Aregbesola who is going to leave you behind, I wouldnâ€™t know, is it a political office?
SOJ Worldwide: So definitely you are leaving?
I am hopeful an APC government will succeed Aregbesola because his performance has been outstanding one would expect the electorate to show appreciation.
Nonetheless, this agency is a creation of an executive order which hopefully before we go, the necessary law establishing it would be presented to the stateâ€™s House of Assembly.
Once the agency has the requisite legal backing that is the important thing. Whichever government succeeds Aregbesola has to continue. It is a necessary agency as it is a requirement by the federal government that each state should have an education quality assurance department or agency.
So, my answer to that is government is a continuum.
SOJ Worldwide: How did you feel about the performances of your students at the just concluded annual Redeemersâ€™ Quiz Competition?
I think this is a foretaste of things to come from public school pupils. What we are doing is to put the proper structures and procedures in place. Once these students are properly tutored they would shine.
The results at the Redeemersâ€™ is a testimony that government investment in education is already yielding positive dividends. Public school pupils placed first and second respectively in the competition. This is in line with our expectation that our public schools will produce graduates that are excellent in learning and character. I congratulate the winners.
SOJ Worldwide: In addition to that, the students along this axis of Iwo Road, Osogbo Grammar School, always foment troubles with the Technical College students, what are you doing about this?
We are addressing that, I think this rivalry has been long-running between Technical and Osogbo Grammar School, what we are not going to tolerate is unnecessary vandalism. We have measures in place to avoid students vandalising government properties.
The incidents are not as rampart as before. It all boils down to indiscipline which we have curbed to a large extent. Once the students imbibe the necessary discipline they will not be out misbehaving.
SOJ Worldwide: But so far, what has the government done because we have been hearing incessant attacks of these student using charms
Yes, the most significant thing is that the government has zero tolerance for indiscipline and we have empowered the schools to call in the police if there is any disruption of school activities.
SOJ Worldwide: What is your political aspirations towards 2018?
What would be would be. Let us wait for the time when the party would lift the order banning aspirants from declaring.
SOJ Worldwide: Has Ogbeni Aregbesola ever commended you for a job well-done?
Ogbeni has done that severally, for example in his speech during the commissioning of Alekuwodo Salvation Army Middle School where he commended me for my role in the preparations leading to that event.
So Ogbeni has shown appreciation for my little contributions to his effort. And on my part I have always put in 110% performance in all assignments given to me.
SOJ Worldwide: What is your relationship with Ogbeni, I know you are once his adviser?
I was his Special Adviser on Lands and Physical Planning. I want to believe that my efforts in that post recommended me for this new position. I am hoping to make a success of this current assignment, such that it will be a stepping stone for a higher responsibility.
SOJ Worldwide: Final note?
I want to appeal to people for prayer and support for governor Aregbesolaâ€™s efforts to take the state to a higher level which he started very well in terms of infrastructural development. We pray that God be with him.
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