In a bid to address the poor education performance of students in Oyo State, Senator Sharafadeen Alli (APC-Oyo South) has taken a commendable step by empowering 54 students with payment of WAEC fees and cash awards.
The cheques were presented and the scholarship was launched during an award ceremony held on Thursday in Ibadan.
This was part of the culmination of a four-week free holiday coaching program organised by the Good Governance and Development Initiative (GGDI) and sponsored by Senator Sharafadeen Alli.
The coaching classes, which saw the participation of 1,635 students, were conducted across 18 centers in the nine local governments of Oyo South Senatorial District.
Alli emphasised the importance of investing in education, stating that a better society depends largely on the existence of well-educated children.
He expressed commitment to partnering with the government and other education agencies to provide additional support and recognition for students who excel academically.
“We decided that the best time to have them is during long vacation. To partner with government and other education agencies by adding our own input to what they are doing.
“After the exercise, we decided we need to do more by providing them with WAEC fees and establishing scholarship funds.
“This is to encourage all these children to be able to know that when you do well, the society will recognise them,” he said.
He said the entire project, including the remuneration of teachers, payment of WAEC fees for 54 students, and cash awards for the top three students, amounted to approximately 15 to 20 million naira.
Dr. Yemi Farounbi, a former Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines and guest speaker at the event, commended Senator Alli and GGDI for their dedication to investing in the education of future leaders.
He emphasised that quality education was the greatest gift that could be given to a child and applauded Senator Alli for choosing to invest in the future of the students.
“I salute my brother in whom I am well pleased, most Distinguished Senator Sharafadeen Alli. I am not saluting him because he spent money, but what he spent money on.
“There are senators who spend money on shadow things, things that fades away and can’t add value to the society.
“But Senator Sharafadeen Alli chose to invest in the future of these children who will be the leaders of this society,” he said.
The event also shed light on the need for improvement in the education sector, as Oyo State currently ranks 26th out of 36 states in WAEC ratings.
Alhaji Bello Oladeji, the chairman of the occasion, expressed sadness over this ranking, thanking GGDI and Senator Alli for providing the means to address the issue.
“If you are involved in our education system from time immemorial and you see what is happening today, you will be very sad.
“”How can Oyo State be in the 26th position in WAEC rating? It is very bad.
We thank GGDI and our senator who has provided the means to make the programme happen,” he said.
Prof. Ishiaq Omotosho, the GGDI Coordinator, highlighted the embarrassment caused by the poor performance of students in recent years, while praising Senator Alli for his generosity and commitment to the progress of the state.
He said that Senator Alli willingly paid for all the expenses incurred on the project.
“Notwithstanding the poor performance of the students, our Senator insisted that the students should be encouraged.
“He then proposed paying for the WAEC fees of three best students in each of the 18 centres totalling 54 students and additional financial remuneration for the overall best 3 students,” he said.
He said the senator has also proposed that the program would be spread to every corner of Oyo State while other development initiatives like vocational training and adult education will be included.
The coordinator said that these initiatives would cater for market men and women especially to be able to cope with the plans towards a cashless economy.
Despite the challenges faced by the students, Samuel Fakunle, a beneficiary of the program, expressed determination to excel in his WAEC examinations and change the world.
“But notwithstanding the failure, Senator Alli still try to encourage us. For this, I am determined in my mind that I won’t sleep. I will pass my WAEC examinations excellently.
“My plan is to change the world. So if I go to higher institution, I will be able to accomplish my goals,” he said.
Some teachers who participated in the project and parents present at the event expressed their appreciation for Senator Alli’s laudable initiative, recognising its potential to bring about a paradigm shift in the education sector of the state.
Meanwhile, the Senator has proposed expanding the program to every corner of Oyo State and including other development
He has also agreed to run the programme both physically and virtually for other people outside the state to benefit.