Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Anayo Ethelbert Okorocha,recently announced the upgrading of some secondary schools to tertiary institutions as well as the creation of new ones. Among the upgraded schools are Ahiara Technical College,upgraded to a Polytechnic and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Imo State University at Ngor Okpala upgraded to a full fledged university of Agriculture. The governor also announced the founding of College of Education, Ohaji/Egbema and College of Nursing, Owerri. On the surface, this government decision is one deserving commendation. Education remains the bedrock of societal growth and development, so anything and everything done to promote it should be seen as a right step in the right direction. But on a more serious note, popular opinion within the state is that the gesture seems like another of the present administration’s gimmicks. While we are not in a position to say, this opinion is true or false, material realities on ground seem to suggest that the policy may not be sustainable. First, the gloomy economic outlook of the state which is deducible from the inability of the government to pay salaries, pensions and meet other pressing obligations is there. Also, the high debt burden of the state is another pointer to this down turn. Again, it is an incontrovertible fact that the tertiary institutions already existing in the state are not adequately funded. The Imo State University, IMSU, Imo State Polytechnic Umuagwo, Imo State University Medical College, IMSUTH, just to mention a few of these institutions are known to be struggling to meet with obligations due to paucity of funds. They are also poorly equipped. It is worthy of mention also that the Imo State College of Education, Ihitte-Uboma, approved a few years ago is yet to take off, fully. Processes geared towards seeing to its full take-off have been moving more or less at a snail speed. Looking at the situation of things in the state’s tertiary education sub sector, we are inclined to agree with those against creation of more higher institutions. For education to have any meaning and be useful to individuals and society, quality, not quantity must be it’s underlying motive. The crying need for quality education becomes even most inevitable in a state like Imo and Nigeria generally, given the massively acknowledged fallen standard of education. Against this backdrop therefore, we are of the opinion that rather than increase the number of schools, effort should be geared toward the funding and equipping of the existing state owned higher institutions. When these institutions have been upgraded to minimum international standards then, we can start thinking of how to float or upgrade more schools. For now, we think this initiative is not sustainable and should be quickly done away with in the interest of Imo State, it’s education standard and the people.
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