December 02, 2022
Chukwuma Charles SOLUDO, CFR
Today marks yet another milestone in Anambra’s bold march towards a liveable and prosperous smart mega city— one that is the preferred destination to live, learn, work, invest, and relax/enjoy. In barely eight months in office, we have been vigorously and simultaneously implementing the five pillars of our people’s manifesto. Yes, we are fighting the criminals and touts head-on and they are on the run. Security, law and order are getting better by the day. Anambra is now a construction site with 230 kilometres of quality and strategic road construction ongoing, together with bridges and flyovers; we have launched regenerative agricultural revolution as well as reinventing the palm oil and coconut economy; four industrial parks are being prepared; we are working in partnership with private providers to guarantee 24 hour electricity in our major cities over the next 30 months; street lights powered by solar are replacing the old technology; our urban regeneration agenda is on course; we have declared war to solve the terrible traffic gridlocks and keep our streets and cities clean and green; on course to delivering over 2,000 kilometres of Fibre Optic Infrastructure en route to our mission for Anambra as a digital tribe. General hospitals are being remodelled and upgraded;
Anambra has launched a pilot case in telemedicine; we are mainstreaming “Everything technology and technology everywhere”; a fully focused agenda on sustainable environment is on course; we are taking prudence in public finance management to the next level with added transparency and accountability; our pensioners are now being paid their gratuity as at when due, and our workers continue to receive their salary alert every 25th of the month, etc. Despite the approval by the House of Assembly for us to borrow to finance this year’s budget, we still have not borrowed one kobo to date. We are totally committed to prudence with transformation and at all times to ensure sustainable public finance.
As we speak, about 5000 youths are undergoing intensive business and skill enhancement program under our “One Youth, One Skill Program” and billions of Naira earmarked for their empowerment early next year. Over 2,000 youths have been employed in various security and enforcement assignments, etc, etc. Anambra is truly on the move.
Today, we are keeping one of our promises. In our people’s Manifesto, we promised to “position Anambra as a centre of excellence for human capital development and proactively leapfrog our students/youths as Africa’s digital tribe”. Our broad goal is the development of a robust human capital that is productive at home and exportable abroad. Yes, we benchmark to Nigeria, but for an itinerant tribe, global best practices will continue to be our beacon. We have a full loaded agenda for our health sector reforms, including the ongoing recruitment of some 260 consultants/doctors, nurses and other professionals to staff our general hospitals thereby ending the regime of hospitals without doctors etc.
On education, Our Manifesto notes that “Education is Anambra’s present and its future”. The Manifesto has a detailed reform agenda and three illustrative focus areas (out of nine) germane to this event include:
(a) Develop the competence of teachers in the State and restore teaching as a profession of pride. As the saying goes, “if you want to predict the future of any society, examine the quality of its teachers and the quality of teaching”. The teaching profession is the most important profession as everyone was once taught by a teacher. As a teacher myself, we understand what it means when teachers are empowered to work. Our Plan will work towards professionalism, and unique Anambra teachers with special Anambra certification based upon quality, capacity building and competences. Lifelong learning tools will be provided and teachers will be motivated and rewarded appropriately.
(b) Develop rigorous quality assurance in both private and public schools. The unique feature of the Anambra educational system is that about 60% of pupils and students in primary and secondary schools are in private and mission schools. We will collaborate with the Church, CSOs, DFIs and other stakeholders to set up an independent accreditation and continuous supervisory agency to augment the Ministry of Education in quality assurance.
(c) Review curricula at all levels to provide functional education for the digital age to develop graduates that are problem solvers especially Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and coding skills, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, etc.
We are committed to deliver on the above among others. But in all of these, Umunnem, availability and quality of teachers are decisive. Today, we have come to end the era of schools without teachers in our primary and secondary schools, with the recruitment and deployment of 5,000 new teachers. Henceforth, Anambra schools will continue to meet the best possible pupils/students – teacher ratios.
I am particularly happy with the process of the recruitment. Of course, no exercise of this magnitude will go without some complaints here and there but we are determined to deliver a near perfect job. We set out from the outset to do something uniquely transparent and with highest integrity. My instructions to the Commissioner for Education and to the Chairpersons of PPSSC and ASUBEB were unambiguous:
(a) Only merit can get anyone a placement in the recruitment exercise. The phenomenon of well-placed persons being given “slots” to nominate candidates for recruitment should never happen. To demonstrate my commitment to this, I instructed that even if I were to give them any name(s) for employment, they should throw such away. Teaching is not just a job, it is a vocation and no one should be employed as a teacher on any consideration other than merit. I have only one criterion for recruiting a teacher and that is to ask: “Will I be proud for this person to teach my child?” Everyone wants the best teacher for his/her child, and we should never in good conscience sacrifice the future of a generation on the altar of favoritism. As the Governor of Anambra, I do not have any “slot”, not one!
(b) Yes, I was informed that the team had several other selection criteria including: considerations for core subjects; spread among the local governments; hard to reach locations; needs of special/technical colleges; etc. My instruction was that merit should be the only consideration among candidates even within these categories.
(c) State of origin was not a disqualifying factor. Our children need the best teachers irrespective of where they come from, and I understand that many candidates are not indigenes of Anambra State.
(d) With the initial 40,120 applicants; two CBT exams and oral/written interviews, I have further instructed that the master list of the last 8,120 (with their average scores) be published. It is from this 8,120 that 5,000 were selected for both primary and secondary schools. The final lists of those selected (primary and secondary) should also be published, together with respective cut-off marks for each local government, etc. This is to enable everyone to be able to self-examine and verify the selection process. That is to say that anyone with scores within the cut-off mark must have been recruited except for candidates whose educational qualifications do not explicitly lead to defined teaching subjects in the primary and secondary schools. Anyone who believes he/she ought to be selected but was omitted should report, and if you know anyone who ought not to have been recruited you should also report. We will seriously consider all complaints and remedies provided where found to be meritorious. I am told that this process is transparency stretched to its limit, and especially given the so called “Nigerian factor” in public sector recruitment. This should be the Anambra standard.
Let me at this point commend the Commissioner for Education, Chairpersons of PPSSC and ASUBEB and their members and staff for the sacrifice and hard work.
To you the newly recruited teachers, let me congratulate you for being among the best out of the over 40,000 applicants. Let me also congratulate some of the so called PTA teachers who went through this process successfully. As you may recall, we insisted that the PTA teachers recruited shortly before we assumed office must go through this rigorous exercise if they wanted to keep the job, and I am glad that some of them were successful.
My fellow teachers, the future of our children and the next generation is in your hands. Anambra, the Light of the Nation, is known for excellence. Even in spite of the insecurity challenges during the various examinations, Anambra continues to shine. Our teachers, schools, and students continue to win national and international prizes. Now, with you as added force, we expect nothing but super performance. For those of you without prior teaching qualification (for example, Mathematics or English graduate), we will, as part of Anambra’s teacher certification, design an intensive on the job training to urgently turn you into real teachers. Professionalism is our watchword.
Let me conclude by commending all the stakeholders in the Anambra education project especially the parents, teachers, private proprietors, churches, private foundations/individuals that have “adopted” schools, regulatory bodies, the federal government and the donor agencies. We need your greater partnership in the years ahead, as well strive to create the digital tribe. For our new Science and Technology Secondary Schools, we will be recruiting more specialized teachers in due course. Our Education Advisory council will commence work next week.
Umunne m, Ndi Anambra, let me suggest that educating our next generation is our collective responsibility. The Public-Community- Private Partnership (PCPP) is the winning model for the future. Get involved. The next time you are in the village, visit the primary and/or secondary school nearest to your home and see in what way you can help. If you can’t adopt the school by way of paying for all the bills, just do something, anything— buy a pencil for a child! If we all do that, every school will, over time, be of global standard. Trust me, in your entire life, you may be shocked that investment in that school may turn out to be the most transformative and impactful investment in your life.
Let’s get to work! Let’s do it together, and together, we shall create the new world of our dream. Anambra will win!
God bless Anambra State!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!