By Joseph ATHANASIUS

I would like to begin by commending the present administration, the 10th on the leadership row of the state, with Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, as the Chief Executive Officer, for placing emphasis on competence and the passion to serve as criteria for choosing a set of team players to assist him in actualizing the industrialization blue print of Akwa Ibom State government.

Suffice to say here that the Governor’s success will depend largely on how effectively and efficiently these team players interpret his blue print and action plan to optimally implement same for maximum benefit of the good people of Akwa Ibom State.

One of these experienced professionals; whose exemplary merit he brought to bear on his assignment remains unmatched in the annals of exemplary dedication and commitment to duty is Rt. Hon. Aniekan Akpan, the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Akwa Ibom State.

Interestingly, in the last six months, several achievements have been noticed in the state’s education sector. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the credit for the accomplishment goes to the state’s Ministry of Education, yet many have acknowledged that the success recorded actually came through an invisible hand as the case may be.

I have been around, monitoring Elder Aniekan Akpan’s administration and, as well make public his achievements in the state’s education sector in the last six months since his assumption of office, and I have concluded thus, “Though there are many ways of attaining greatness in life, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Akpan has built his road to greatness on the bedrock of respect and commitment to excellence, devoid of mediocrity.

This as well captured the role played by a renowned and foremost Educationist, Elder Aniekan Akpan in fostering transformational education in Akwa Ibom State. A consummate administrator, who is continually in collaboration terms with relevant stakeholders, as well as in search for more development partners with a view to foster quality and functional education, including drastic eradication of illiteracy amongst the good people of Akwa Ibom State, particularly among the disadvantaged youths and other members of the society.

Accordingly, the Commissioner has won another cooperation, this time coming from one of the Ministry’s development partners, the United Nation Education, Scientific Cultural Organization {UNESCO}, through Agency for Adult and Non- formal Education {AANE}, in distributing laptops and instructional materials to Adult Education Centers in the state.

Commissioner Aniekan Akpan, who many described as an epitome of humility and service to humanity, has a common aspiration in building intellectual capacity of Akwa Ibom man, such that can make him {Akwa Ibom man} compete intellectually anywhere the world over. This has been his cardinal point as he superintends in the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Education. It can be seen in his strategies, which many believed will see the state take the lead, courtesy of its people’s intellectual contents.

Presenting laptops and other instructional materials, courtesy of UNESCO largess to beneficiaries Local Government Areas in the state last week in Uyo, the Commissioner announced the ongoing 3-year {2012 – 2015} Revitalizing Adult and Youth Literacy {RAYL} in Nigeria. He said that UNESCO/NMEC has within the framework of the project identified four local government areas in the state, namely: Ika, Etianan, Mbo and Okobo.

 

The Commissioner however, enjoined the beneficiaries to reciprocate the laudable project by ensuring that the centers where the materials are to be housed are adequately prepared hence, made a clarion call, “This call for all and sundry to arise in the spirit of ‘DAKKADA’ Initiative to fight against illiteracy in our state. May I also remind particularly, the Chief Executives in our local government areas of their roles and responsibilities in the Adult Literacy Sub sector as streamlined in the National Benchmark for Adult  and Non- formal Education in Nigeria 2008”.

Education ministry helmsman listed those areas of responsibilities by local government authorities to include: Recruitment of facilitators in line with minimum benchmark, as well as set target for them, Payment of facilitators allowance, Effective management of centers, Provision and distribution of materials and equipments to centers, as well as Sensitization of the target group.

The Commissioner has also enjoined these local government authorities to recognize the important of Adult and Youth Literacy to the development of the local communities, maintaining that if they do, he said, their roles will translate into good outcomes in health, effective parenting, financial sustainability, and political participation of the people.

Aniekan Akpan, who tasked Agency for Adult and Non- formal Education {AANE} on its mandate of eradicating illiteracy in the state, expressed dissatisfaction over what he called, ‘lack of basic literacy’, Hear him, “Permit me at this juncture to inform you that the Education for All {EFA} Global Monitoring Report of 2013 to 2014 indicates that Adult Literacy has hardly improved within the period under review. In 2011 there were 774 million illiterate adults, a decline of just 1 % since 2000.

“The number is projected to fall only slightly to 743 million by the end of this 2015. From the report, almost two third of illiterate adults are women, and the poorest young woman in the developing country like Nigeria may not achieve universal basic literacy until 2072”.

The Commissioner has assured Akwaibomites of the unflinching commitment of his administration in the Education Ministry in ensuring that Education becomes a way of life in this part of the world, even as he pledged the commitment of the present government of His Excellency, Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel toward accelerating literacy in the state, and this administration determination in spreading basic literacy among adult illiterates throughout the state.

The Commissioner had mentioned that, the distribution of laptops and instructional materials to Adult Literacy Centers in the state has been triggered by the fact that the Ministry’s development partner, UNESCO has trained 14 Master trainers, and 131 literacy facilitators from Akwa Ibom State with overall objective of strengthening the state capacity for delivery of quality programmes, even as he called on NGOs and spirited individuals to rise and fight illiteracy in the state by partnering with Agency for Adult and Non- formal Education.

The Honourable Commissioner for Education in Akwa Ibom State, Elder Aniekan Akpan, indeed had embraced resolutive mechanism, which presupposes that his administration has strengthened and entrenched improved state, relevant stakeholders and development partners’ cooperation in his stride to ensure that every Akwa Ibom man is educated man.

Howbeit, those who know Aniekan Akpan can attest that he is a man who matches his words with action. Inspite of his rather modest posture, the Commissioner has intimidating records of public service. Hence, the success story of transformational education and illiteracy eradication pragrammes of the Ministry of Education, under the leadership of Aniekan Akpan is no doubt a step in the right direction for this government.

 “My belief is that education is the bedrock of industrialization”, Aniekan Akpan remarks. According to him, if the industrialization blue print of Deacon Udom Emmanuel-led government is by any way to be actualized, then the Ministry of Education has a responsibility of not only creating jobs by training youths and adults on relevant vocational skills through Agency for Adult and Non-formal Education, but to also actualize the Education for All {EFA} policy.

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