The Federal Ministry of Education has called on principals of its 104 Unity Colleges across the country to step up their leadership roles in a bid achieve an outstanding secondary education system.
The Minister of State for Education, Chief Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, made the call at the opening of the 2019 Annual General Meeting of Principals of Federal Unity Colleges on Tuesday in Lagos.
The AGM, which will end on Nov 16, has the theme: ”Education, a Tool for Curbing Corruption and Social Vices in Federal Unity Colleges”.
Nwajiuba said that education remained a subject that was highly valued all over the world for its ability to develop the human potentialities such as social and economic growth as well as development.
He said that the country was in a critical moment that could mar or launch the educational system into the desired level.
“The unity colleges, by nature of their establishment, serve as role models and pacesetters to all the states where they are situated.
“These colleges were expected to take the lead in character and academic performance but it was rather unfortunate that this seemed not to be the case in all the colleges today,”Nwajiuba said.
He decried the low rating and under-performance of the unity colleges despite the fact that they were relatively better funded in the country.
“As respective leaders of our various colleges, we all owe our county the responsibility of ensuring an educational system that delivers the socio- economic needs to the people and the country.
“The onus is on you to ensure effective implementation of the policy initiatives of the Federal Government to improve academic achievements in our Federal Unity Colleges.
“It is clear that unless we have principals that are competent and committed to translating the Federal Government’s visions for these colleges into reality by providing the right kind of leadership that will galvanise them into producing students who are ready to face the future with appropriate knowledge, creative skills, positive attitudes and social values, our efforts will not be fruitful,” he warned.
Nwajiuba charged the principals to also ensure that funds released for upgrade of facilities in the colleges were judiciously utilised for the purpose they were meant for.
He said managing resources that accrued to the colleges from all sources must also be accounted for in a transparent manner, in order to advance the welfare and wellbeing of the colleges, staff and the students.
The minister also charged the principals to step up efforts in checking indolence, truancy, incompetence ad indiscipline among their teaching and non-teaching staff.
“As principals, are you able to ensure discipline, godliness and commitment to working hard and academic excellence among your students?.
“This question and others were put before some of you in 2018, and today, we should not be asking the same questions if we are to justify your annual coming together for stock taking.
“Again, your ability to interpret the policies and curricular in use in the colleges are some of the determinants of your success in the internal and external examinations.
“The higher the quality of leadership that we offer in our colleges, the better the performance and achievement levels of our students,” he said.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Sonny Echonod, described the annual general meeting as a vehicle for peer review among the principals.
He said that it was, therefore, expected that the principals would interact and learn the best practices from each other, so as to improve on their performances.
Echono, represented by an official from the ministry, Mr Samuel Ojo, said that the theme was carefully fashioned for discussions in order to mirror the overall corporate life and management of the colleges.
He urged the principals to explore the various practical ways of enhancing discipline in the colleges, as this was key to having optimum academic performance and success in life after school.
Echono appealed to the principals to join hands with President Buhari in his fight to curb corruption in the society.
“It is the desire to see a corrupt-free nation, and in particular, the 104 Federal Unity Colleges. I want to assure you of our support in every possible way to ensure an effective and efficient delivery of your core mandate,” he said.
Earlier in her address, the Chairman of Chairmen, Principals of Unity colleges, Mrs StellaMaris Omu, said the principals had put their acts together to give education its pride of place.
She said that principals of colleges should continue to synergise in order to enhance the activities and programmes of the Federal Ministry of Education to achieve its laudable objective of education for change Initiative .
Omu, however, noted that the challenges facing the colleges include disruption of college routine by unchecked Union activities.
Mrs Tokunbo Oyinloye-Yakubu The Principal, Queens College Yaba, said that the principals would continue to ensure that the colleges retained their position as the flagship colleges in all spheres.
The principal, who takes over from Omu whose tenure just ended, said that unity colleges remained a force to beat in education in the country.
Edited by Oluwole Sogunle