On New Year’s eve, ICEED Foundation hosted a breakfast meeting on community participation in improving secondary school performance in Afikpo North. The aim of the meeting was to enhance community participation in improving the performance of secondary schools in the LGA.
The general perception of Afikpo people is that we are an education-loving community – and that broadly speaking, we out-perform other communities in Ebonyi at various levels of educational pursuit. That may have been the case before. According to available evidence, this self-image does not fit the frame. Let’s provide an example:
A year ago, ICEED Foundation signed an MOU with the Catholic Church – the managers of the Ehugbo Technical College on technical training for their students in renewable energy technologies. These students are being trained once a week on the science, design, installation and maintenance of solar systems as well as heating energy technologies. The ten students for the pilot phase were the best performing students in the last school exams. Only one student among the top ten came from Afikpo LGA. He is from Akpoha community. Practically speaking, none of the ten top senior students from Ehugbo Technical College – a school built by our community is among the best performing students. Evidence from Government Secondary School Afikpo and Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam Girls Secondary School seem to confirm this trend. Something is wrong.
The breakfast meeting featured three panelists – Mrs Angela Uzoma Agwu, principal of Akanu Ibiam Girls Secondary School, Fr Charles Iduma of Ehugbo Technical College, and Mr Isaac Aluu representing the principal of Government Secondary School Afikpo. Each principal provided an overview of the trend in school enrolment, results from exit classes in the past ten years, key challenges facing the specific school and suggestions on how the community can support better outcomes from the secondary school system.
The principals and the participants agreed that the educational situation in Afikpo represents a clear and present danger to the future of the community. We can’t face the 21st century with the quality of skills that our schools produce. The participants therefore agreed on the following community-led measures to stem the decline in secondary school outcomes in Afikpo:
- Community provision of school books. Most students do not have school books.
- Community sponsored teacher training programmes.
- Performance-based incentives for both students and teachers.
- Improvement of primary schools in our communities.
- Community members to volunteer time and skills to secondary schools in Afikpo.
- Through the Essaa Traditional Council and village unions, create awareness on the importance of investments in education.
- Encourage the management of schools to collect and manage data on school enrollment and performance.
Among the participants were a committee of three sent by the Essaa Traditional Council. The Eto Ehugbo Council sent a two-man delegation. Other participants include school principals in the LGA, PTA representatives, representatives of old girls and old boys associations as well as thought leaders in the community. About 70 participants in all attended the breakfast conversation.