Benue to employ more teachers soon – Commissioner

By Faith Igbudu

Commissioner for Education, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar, has revealed that the Benue state government will soon employ school teachers, according to an earlier directive by the state Governor, Samuel Ortom.

According to Prof. Ityavyar who spoke to The Voice recently, the governor had  directed last year that school teachers be employed in order to strengthen man power in the education sector and the ministry planned out modalities to that effect, however, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic stalled the move.

“Just when we wanted to employ in line with the directive of the governor on employment of teachers, COVID-19 came and movement was restricted. A lot was distorted and it was not the best time for any activity,” he stated.

The commissioner said: “Now that schools have resumed it is an appropriate time to redeem the promise made by His Excellency and we are going to do it.”

According to him, although COVID-19 stares the sector in the face, he expressed optimism that the situation will be better, soon after the pandemic slows down as most innovations which was to be taken for the betterment of education in the state came to a halt.

“The challenges of education now are universal, given the outbreak of COVID-19 because when education is taken away, it will result to massive unemployment and social unrest.

Speaking further, the commissioner scored Benue high in the education sector. He said the state has excelled in terms of education thereby scoring Benue A, saying it has lived up to expectation.

“Benue state has been very good in the area of education, we have achieved more than any other sector in 45 years. Right now we have so many secondary schools, we have many technical schools, we have over 8000 primary schools, and we have several tertiary institutions: Three state owned polytechnics  Ugbokolo, Akawe Torkula and Akperan Orshi, two colleges of education in Oju and Katsina ala; we have a state owned university, Benue State University, Makurdi and this was the first state owned university in northern Nigeria. The university has a medical school, which is doing very well, it has graduated over 300 medical doctors, it has a law faculty, it has a nursing faculty and buoyant departments of social sciences and arts,” he said.

Prof. Ityavyar who elucidated that in terms of quality, Benue ranks 3rd in performance for Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) in Nigeria, noted that Governor Samuel Ortom has revolutionized education by placing tertiary institutions on high premium by ensuring regular payment of salaries and allowances and making primary schools in the state the strongest, especially in terms of infrastructure.

Speaking further, the commissioner said, a major achievement of the Governor  Ortom led administration in the education sector is the upgrading of all basic primary schools and also making them entirely free to the Benue child as well as every Nigerians residing in Benue. This, he said is in a bid to reduce the number of out-of-school children. However, the commissioner said it is unfortunate that some people have failed to take advantage of the robust education situation created by Governor Ortom.

“It is worthy of note that these efforts of restructuring the basic primary schools and making them free, has reduced the foretold large number of out-of-school children. The total number of out-of-school children in Benue is less out of the over 28 million out-of-school children in Nigeria. They are now concentrated in northern Nigeria.

“In Benue our industry is education. We have a large population of people who are educated and the want their children educated too. People have realised the value of education, so we don’t have a large number of out-of-school children. We even have adult education for those who have passed the age of primary school but still want to be educated, they can still go to these schools which have over 300 intakes across the state,” he said.

He also noted that another feat that the education sector can boast of, is the proliferation of schools which has made education rich, robust and available at all levels.

“There are a lot of schools that can accommodate our population explosion. We have College of Education that use to take 12,000 to 16,000 but now has two thousand there is still space of 10,000 more students. In Oju we used to have 8,000 to 10,000, now we have a 1,000 plus, in Ugbokolo we used to have 16,000 to 20,000 students now it doesn’t have up to 5,000 students and it is the same thing with CAPS, they have less than a thousand. We have just enough to accommodate the population growth as well as accommodate students from neighbouring states,” he stated.

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