Prof Ikechi Mgbeoji: the passionate reformer in the team

By Factnews on 31/05/2017

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Prof. Ikechi Mgbeoji

...2 years after....part 4

By John Okiyi Kalu

Let me start by restating some of what those who watched the scorecard presentation of Abia State Commissioner for Education, Prof Ikechi Mgbeoji, took away from the event before delving into what I consider the real achievements of one of my favorite commissioners in the cabinet of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.

-He renovated 32 schools across the 3 senatorial zones. Achieved without a kobo from the Ministry of Finance.
-He sank 15 boreholes at different schools to provide good drinking water to Abia school children 
-He built more than 50 modern school toilets across the state
-He built a modern staff quarters at Ibeku High school Umuahia
-He reduced students school fees at our tertiary institutions; ABSU, ABIAPOLY and College of education Arochukwu.
-He supervised a home grown free school feeding program 
-He launched the education for employment program that is currently training Abia youths to make them employable and also get those wishing to work jobs.
-He regularly organizes coding training for secondary school children in Abia State.

On the strength of all the above he did without a kobo of funds from the state's ministry of finance you can easily say Prof has done well, without worrying about anyone contradicting you.

Yet those are not what makes him a superstar in Abia State Governor's cabinet. They are mere icing on his performance cake.

Prof Ikechi Mgbeoji is a first class law graduate and until his appointment as Commissioner for education by Governor Ikpeazu, a law professor at a university in Canada, North America. I am personally proud to also state that we schooled in the same secondary school where the best of Abia state must pass through; Eziama High School Aba. Without you asking, I will also boastfully inform you that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu passed through the same school and must have acquired his exceptional leadership skills from the only institution in the then Imo State that posted the best WAEC results for 3 consecutive years and forgot to celebrate because we believed we should have been the best in Nigeria, not old Imo State made up of present day Abia, Imo and half of Ebonyi state.

The most important achievement of Prof as a commissioner should rightly be his educational reform efforts that is quietly seeping through the administrative, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the state.

Of course you already know that Abia has maintained 1st position in WAEC for 3 consecutive years. But that has not stopped Prof from carefully studying the weaknesses in our educational sector and applying his first class brain, local and international experiences to cut out the weak links and expand opportunities for sustainable great performances.

Abia school system is a healthy blend of private and public investment from cradle through to university. We have almost as many private primary and secondary schools as public ones. All run on same curriculum approved by the ministry of education that Prof heads. We also have 4 tertiary institutions (ABSU, Abiapoly, COED and CHT) and four private tertiary institutions namely Gregory University, Rhema University, Clifford University and Covenant Polythechnic.

Sadly, there is only one federal government owned tertiary institution in the number one education state in Nigeria; Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike.

The Honorable Commissioner for education is currently spearheading advocacy for the Federal Government to establish at least one more university and a polytechnic in the state to balance with other states in the South East and the minimum in most states of Nigeria.

In addition to that advocacy, he is pushing for another state owned university of science and technology to take care of the thousands of our science and technology oriented school leavers. Already he has successfully implemented a politically charged and risky agenda of moving the law faculty of Abia State University to Umuahia without much noise and/or backlash. When Prof believes that something is for the greater good you can't stop him from doing it.

Abiapoly must have presented a unique challenge to Prof Mgbeoji on assumption of office. That school is what you call "a basket case" with cabals who claim autonomy from government but carry plates to government monthly to demand for subventions even while collecting high school fees from thousands of students. If there is any institution in Abia State that is seemingly reform resistant it should be Abiapoly with its cabal that is ready to play on all kinds of mundane sentiments to continue to abuse the school and the hapless students.

Yet Abiapoly is meeting its match in Prof Ikechi Mgbeoji. Though he once confessed to me that he didn't know the rot in the school was as deep as his reviews have revealed, he has continued to push forward with his reform agenda that will ultimately deliver an institution that can at least sustain itself from its earnings and produce the best quality of students possible while making "sorting" of any kind history.

Just like the Governor, Prof believes that getting foundational education right is key to delivering sustainable growth and development to this and future generations. In preparation for deploying computers to all primary and secondary schools in Abia state he is partnering with Australian educational services providers to train our teachers to serve as retrainers. The training and exchange program which is in its second year is also focusing on students and teachers evaluation methods as well as establishing appropriate learning systems for gifted children and their physically challenged peers. He recently vowed to journalists that as long as he has a say in education "no Abia child will be left behind as each child will receive required focus as a future leader of our people".

Under his watch, a home grown e-learning software developed by young Abia ICT experts, led by Ugochukwu Brown, using our school curriculum and our local teachers as tutors have been launched as application for parents to make available to their children at home pending the full implementation of the state's school computerization program.

Prof has also reformed Guidelines for Registration of Private Schools in Abia State and rationalized the posting of teachers while also devolving powers to Zonal SEMB offices for more efficient monitoring and coordination.

Education inspectors in the state have received motorcycles for rural areas monitoring while best performing teachers in the three senatorial areas received cars from the Governor as gifts under Prof's watch. In addition, due recognition is being accorded exceptional performers in our school system to encourage healthy competition and best performing WASCE students were feted and the best awarded scholarships by the Governor. The newly inaugurated state scholarship board is already reviewing and processing those who will benefit from the first phase of the tertiary education scholarships.

Prof also introduced the internationally acclaimed Bell Curve to the grading of students in tertiary institutions. The Pilot program is currently running at ABSU faculty of law Umuahia.

He is also improving workers attitude to work through supervision, monitoring and implementation of disciplinary measures, provision of computer aided school data and attendance regulator to the schools. Teachers and workers who used to stroll to work at 9am now know better.

In any Abia private school where examination malpractices are established Prof will deregister and fine the school without further notice. He simply cannot stand cheating of any kind as he believes that only a good, functional and merit based system will produce the leaders that can lead the future to glory.

As a proud product of the Abia school system, Prof is passionate about well equipped schools with laboratories and boarding facilities at secondary schools. His ministry is well on the way to the construction at least 6 model schools in the 3 senatorial zones as samples for private schools to copy as minimal standard in the state. The first set are expected to be launched later this year and the schools which will host nursery, primary and secondary school students in one location will have steady power supply, internet facilities, e-learning facilities, games and sports facilities, modern science laboratories and well fenced properties to protect our children.

The reformist who is advanced in his plans for the first of its kind education summit in Abia State is also exceptionally committed to staff welfare. Long abandoned regular staff promotions have been regularized on his watch.

Prof Ikechi Mgbeoji is thinking outside the box to fund his programs at the ministry of education. Most of his programs are funded through national and international donors and educational support organizations. The free school feeding and free school shoes programs are largely funded by private citizens and donor agencies.

Having highlighted some of the achievements of our educational reformer per excellence, I will leave it to you to rate him. Do you still have doubts that only a committed reformist like Prof can help give birth to the new Abia that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is passionately seeking to deliver to the next generation?

JOK

 

 

Posted on May, 31 2017

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