IN AUGUST 2018, Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano presented N1 million cheque each to six secondary school pupils. They are Adaeze Onuigbo, Vivian Okoye, Promise Nnalue, Nwabuaku Ossai, Jessica Osita and Miracle Igbokwe. The state also awarded them with scholarship up to their first university degrees.
THE governor equally doled N2 million each to Rev. Fr. Vincent Ezeaka and Mrs. Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, who were the teachers who tended, coached and mentored the girls.
THE pupils were from Regina Pacis Secondary School, Onitsha who distinguished themselves and made Anambra State and Nigeria proud as the first prize winning team in the World Technovation competition held at Silicon Valley, San Francisco, United States.
The girls invented a gadget that detects fake drugs which they branded ‘FD Detector’. Their invention knocked out all their opponents in the global contest in which over 2000 apps were submitted from over 19,000 entries drawn from 115 countries .
NO doubt, the coveted gold trophy brought home by the girls was just another feather on Anambra’s cap in the education sector which has been radically transformed under the reign of Gov. Obiano under whose administration, Anambra has consistently maintained premier position in West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) examinations for secondary schools.
Counting from the year 2015, even an articulated counter will lose count of the laurels Anambra schools have garnered. Fact is that the Silicon Valley triumph came after another Anambra’s day in the sun when students from the state clinched bronze at the World Schools Debate Championship in Singapore, dusting their opponents drawn from renowned, 80-year-old Katung Secondary School in Singapore.
The same year, a teacher from Anambra, Rose Nkemdilim Obi, won National Teacher of the Year Award, among others. Yet two years later, they returned as champions in National Pre-basic Debate Competition.
WHILE these feats did not land from the moon, they were not pieces of magic shows. They are fingerprints of consistent planning and prudent investment in human capital development. Put differently, the sterling educational breakthroughs being posted by Anambra State under Gov. Obiano are seminal attestations that with good leadership and investment in the right direction, Nigeria would in no time, cease to be push over in science and technology.
BUT one thing that needs not be overlooked is that the developments are evidence of a silent revolution that rewired education sector is just one factor. Anambra State has come within a small space of time and through very cost-effective measurers devoid of ostentatious spending to build her future through a system that encourages robust thinking, innovative approach to academics and broadening the world view of youngsters which will equip the land with healthy minds to lead her into the future.
WHILE her peers were literally going to the moon to adapt the most grandiose of consultancies, Anambra, under Obiano’s sire simply rolled up her sleeves and set down to work. Anambra has smartly improved her education infrastructure which, by tweaking both teaching and learning strategies, got additional boost.
In 2015 , for instance, over 1000 classroom blocks were renovated aside other investments in welfare schemes for teachers and students. Government also marched its foot down on clandestine collection of illegal levies and other forms of extortions hitherto having a field day in schools.
IF ANY field was meted with sacred cow treat in the educational rebirth, it was science studies. And it was understandably so, given its status as bedrock of technical education. That’s why, apart from massive building renovation and rehabilitation projects in 80 schools across the 21 local government areas, Anambra invested in 60 state-of-the-art science laboratories in secondary schools.
THIS was followed by more incentives in which teachers of the subject of mathematics and core sciences received 20 per cent of their basic salaries as allowances to re-orient pupils towards the fields of disciplines that most students dread because of phantom myths.
This yielded so much fruits instantly that in 2016, government secured National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) accreditation in nine key subjects for three of the state’s Government Technical Colleges (GTCs) located at Umueri, Nkpor and Umuchu, to notch the stake on a higher radar than where it was before 2014, when none of the state’s 11 technical colleges had any sort of accreditation.
WHILE we commend the governor for revolutionalising learning in Anambra State’s schools, we recommend that tying together the big picture of different STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines needs greater energy.
Over the years, under traditional learning milieu, many students have been disoriented to believing that understanding mathematics through active discussion or memorisation is talismanic on the basis that if you can explain what you learned to others, perhaps drawing them a picture, then you understand it.
The recurrent feat of Anambra’ pupils in mathematics for example has buttressed that youngsters grasp the subject. This proves that the Obiano government’s incentives to the faculty and the sciences as well as Igbo and English languages is yielding good dividends.
This approach to basic education was inspired by Japanese model studies “understanding-centered” teaching methods.
BUT WE call for paradigm shift in which emphasis on understanding will be replaced by conceptual understanding alongside procedural skills and fluency that will go with application as prevailing in United States basic science syllabus .
ACCORDING to experts, having a basic, deep-seated fluency in mathematics and science — not just an “understanding” is critical to opening doors for many of life’s most intriguing jobs. This will do a whole lot of good to the state’s aspiration to leading