Bayelsa State Governor, Honourable Seriake Dickson on Tuesday, urged the private sector, particularly corporate organizations and individuals to make contributions to the State Education Development Trust Fund, to enable indigent children acquire free and qualitative education.
Governor Dickson stated this, when members of the board of the Education Development Trust Fund, led by its Chairman, Prof. Turner Isoun presented the 2017 report of the board to him in Government House, Yenagoa.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Francis Ottah Agbo, quoted the Governor to have remarked that, the programme is targeted at delivering what he calls, "the democratization of knowledge" in the state.
Calling on the people of the state to take ownership of the education programme, Governor Dickson noted that, the Education Development Trust Fund was aimed at strengthening education, where children are drawn from indigent backgrounds towards increasing the literacy level in the State.
Commending the Chairman and members of the board for the prudent management of the funds, he directed the board in collaboration with the Ministries of Information and Orientation as well as Education to work together in creating the needed awareness on the need for people to identity with the education policy.
His words: "I call on our people to own this programme, which is for your benefit. This programme is to deepen education and deliver what, I always call, the democratization of knowledge, where we are taking children from the underprivileged circumstances and backgrounds and putting them in boarding secondary schools and taking responsibility for their feeding, clothing books and everything."
"We are doing that now and the schools are in all the local government areas and we are still working on more. I call on the board to increase their enlightenment. I want to direct the Commissioner for Education and Ministry of Information also to jointly, working together with the board, to increase the awareness on behalf of the people about the benefits of this programme and then, most importantly, about their duties.
"I also want to use this opportunity to call on the private sector, especially, the international oil companies that have been making billions of dollars on this soil without giving much back. I want to call for collaboration."
"I have mandated the chairman and the board to establish contacts with all local and international companies that are operating in this state to assess and impose a special levy.
"The law provides for the board to assess and levy individuals and leaders of this state irrespective of where they may reside. We expect the board to do more especially in the area of increasing their dragnet."
Presenting the annual report, Chairman of the Education Development Trust Fund Board, Prof. Turner Isoun, said the board had a receipt of about N800 million, out of which, N300 million was spent leaving a balance of N500 million.
Prof. Isoun said, the fund would go a long way in addressing the challenges in the education sector and assist the people participate effectively in a knowledge-driven economy.
In an interview with newsmen shortly after the presentation of the report, the Commissioner for Education, Honourable Jonathan Obuebite and his Information and Orientation counterpart, Honourable Daniel Iworiso Markson, said the fund was instituted to ensure sustainability of the gains in the education sector, as well as secure the future of the children.
Describing the educational programme as highly commendable, they added that, with the fund in place, indigent children would have easy access to quality education.