Moving Education Higher in Anambra Through PPP

KayCee
By KayCee August 17, 2014 12:53

 the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) gathered key stakeholders of the education sector in Anambra State to brainstorm on how to employ the Private Public Partnership (PPP) model to improve the standard of education in the state.

The stakeholders’ workshop which was held in a hotel in Awka, the state capital, attracted top government functionaries, representatives from UNICEF, the civil society, school administrators and resource persons.

Top government functionaries in attendance include Commissioners, Professor Kate Omenugha (Education), Tony Onyima (Information) and Professor Solo Chukwuelobe (Budget and Planning).

Others are the Senior Special Assistants to the Governor, Dr Paul Ifeanyi (Secondary Education), Ekwunife Amanchukwu (Special Education), the Executive Secretary, Agency for Adult and Non Formal Education,

Ifeoma Onwudiwe and Chairman, Post Primary and Secondary School Commission (PPSSC), Lady Joy Ulasi.

Addressing the participants, Commissioner for Education, Professor Omenugha said it was an exciting moment for all of them, the government of Anambra State, Ministry of Education and all of them who have gathered at the workshop and UNICEF.

“Many of us gave up something else to be here. Why are we here? We are here to engage ourselves on the possibility of involving private sector to develop our educational system. We call it PPP. UNICEF in its wisdom and after extensive research has felt it is important that education should remain primed in what we are doing.

“We share the belief it is a large sector. It is the driver of every sector. No matter the roads we do, if we do not have people who are educated in character and learning, you will have people who will litter the streets. They will not know how to cross the roads. Whatever we are doing in education is key, but we all know that it is expensive. If it is left for government, government cannot do it alone. That is why we need PPP.

“I have been going around girl secondary schools in Anambra State. I cannot quantify the enormity of needs seen. Why are we here? We are key stakeholders. We need to engage ourselves and buy into the process in a way that other people will key into what we are doing. We need to know what PPP is. We need to make sure that we are propellers in driving this dream” she said.

Omenugha expressed her belief that all of them (stakeholders) were joined in the engagement process and advised the participants to continue the discussion outside there.

UNICEF Education Specialist, Agatha Nzeribe, explained that they were making this PPP proposal to Anambra State because the state was doing well in their educational policies.

She assured that UNICEF would continue to improve on the existing programme.

“Commissioner for Education (Omenugha) visited our office. The former Governor visited our office to discuss educational programmes. You may hear comments. They are not criticisms but critique.  We are here to clarify to stakeholders in the state on the issue of Private/Public sector Partnership in education. We want to leave you with informed decisions. We expect you as a state government to take education forward.

“Education is a right. There is justification for seeking often times the meaning of PPP. It is not privatization. It is on record that before the civil war, the South Eastern economy was the fastest growing economy in the world.  Education is a right but it is expensive all over the world. No government can develop it alone” Nzeribe stated.

She noted that basic education increases the efficiency of workers, pointing out that workers who have little formal education can carry out only simple menial task, which becomes a constraint in business development.

Citing Singapore as an example, she said its public and private institutions were ranked best in the world for the fifth year running, adding that competitiveness of that country in the world was reinforced by strong focus on education.

Nzeribe explained that the formal relationship between the public and private sectors could be profit-oriented, philanthropic, faith and community based, adding that there should be risk sharing between the public and non-state actors in ensuring arrangement, management, funding and operation in education.

The education expert gave the workshop participants the task to identify the partners who would support the state and stimulate private sector to support education.

“We are not introducing something new to you. In the past schools were built by communities. We want others to contribute and we come in on the issue of quality assurance,” Nzeribe said.

In a power point presentation, a resource person, Rosemary Nwangwu, noted that all indications show that Anambra State has the leadership of the South East thrust at her as far as education was concerned.

“China and Singapore recognized their needs. China knew they had population. Rather than mourn over it, they decided to translate pool of population into wealth. In Singapore, they have about five million people, mainly peasants. They said, ‘we must make this place economically viable’. That is why a tiny Singapore is at third position in education in the world.

“We have enterprise in Anambra. We can lose it without education. All over the world, nothing is enough for education. Look at the interest of the people. Government has realized that as government, there are services they can’t render, but another body can do it. Basic education is a right. Secondary education is also a right. Basic education is a fundamental human right, free and compulsory. It does not mean that people cannot pay for it” Nwangwu said.

She listed among the problems plaguing education, weak leadership, lack of equipment and supplies, bureaucratic red tape and politicization of education the sector.

Nwangwu explained that PPP comes from an understanding of comparative advantage of partners, classified in form of education service initiatives, non-state management of schools, professional and support services, infrastructure initiatives and philanthropic arrangement.

Contributing, Commissioner for Education, Professor Chukwuelobe, described education as an important aspect of what government was doing.

“I realized I have experienced the two systems as a Nigerian growing up in the 1960s who went through primary and secondary schools owned by missionaries.  Then government owned very few schools. It was missions, civil society and communities that owned schools.

“Now, I have children who were all born abroad and educated abroad. So much has been said about Singapore born in the 1970s. But I came back to Nigeria and I saw there is a disconnect in what we do. Far reaching things have to be debated. We should have standing strategic planning committee to cover education. All of what we proposed here are major issues.  As a financial economist, I see a lot of issues concerned. There has to be a honest debate on education.

“This is timely. In advanced economies, education is a political issue. When election is coming, it has to be debated. Education is expensive. It has to be funded by government in primary and secondary level, but with large input from the private sector. My children are going to private schools but they compete. There has to be honest discussion. You agree on specific interventions, once a state agrees what to do” Chukwuelobe stated.

The Commissioner for Information, Tony Onyima however believes that the process is going to be a difficult.

To drive it, Onyima said you need to have courage, engage critical stakeholder and have a legal framework, adding that there was need to engage legislators and properly sensitize them.

The Information Commissioner advised that the presentation should be made to the fuller Executive council.

The strength of Anambra people is that they are rich, affluent and philanthropic. What are these things that should attract them to the state? There is this mindset that government should take care of all his needs. That is why it is difficult to get them to pay tax. We should think of crystallizing this discussion into policy. How many people will get into school in for years? What will it take to get the pupil into school? UNICEF should assist government in this direction” he Onyima said.

He noted that if there is anything going for this government in Anambra, it is the courage to take decisions, adding that PPP enables the state to be the enabler.

Onyima advocated a situation whereby government would find itself ceding out certain areas that are mundane, such as teacher capacity building and handing over more of the schools to the missions, and then for providing instructional materials like textbooks, government can go into contractual agreement with the private sector.

On his own part, Special Adviser to the Governor on Secondary Education, Mr. Paul Ifeanyi, said everybody should be involved, starting from the old boys/alumni and the women in the villages.

But, the Executive Secretary, Agency for Adult and Non Formal Education, Mrs. Ifeoma Onwudiwe, observed that the emphasis has been on formal education, whereas they have serious issues in the non formal education.

Onwudiwe however suggested that they should kick start the process, stressing that ‘it doesn’t begin and end in one day.

Comments

comments

KayCee
By KayCee August 17, 2014 12:53