Activities marking the 2018 Education Week of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri have ended with the conferment of various categories of awards to some distinguished members of the public for outstanding contribution to education in Imo State.
The awards which took place at Protea Hotel Owerri on February 13, 2018 were of 11 categories, all related to education and learning.
The former Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Dr. Ikedi Ohakim received the 2018 Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education through the Return of Mission Schools. The awards were given by the Owerri Archdiocesan Education Commission.
The theme of the Education Week was: “Promoting Excellence in Education And Fighting Corruption in Imo Schools – State, Mission, Private.”
Speaking during the impressive ceremony, the chairman of the evening event, Mr. Paschal Dozie decried corruption in education which he observed has become rampant in the country. However, he suggested that the fight should start from Imo State. The renowned economist stressed the need to take education seriously in the state and Nigeria because of its importance in the economic and social development of any nation. He told the select audience that the event was to thank those who have been helping to improve education in Imo State and solicit the assistance of others who were yet to help.
In his brief remarks, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna, called for re-inspiration of our schools so as to achieve the kind of excellence we had in the past. He noted that though western education started in Yoruba land, but when the Igbo came in, they started to set the pace. He regretted that the civil war and systematic corruption have reduced education to mere papers while conferment of honorary degrees has made education a trivial matter.
Archbishop Obinna said that with the return of mission schools, by the Chief Ikedi Ohakim administration the church started “the revival of education we received from the Irish Missionaries who planted education in Igboland at a distinguished level.”
He reiterated his appeal for “Grants-in-Aid” to mission schools and other kinds of support the church used to get from the government. He also announced plans by the Archdiocese to build a University, to be named Assumpta University and appealed for support for the existing schools and the proposed university.
Earlier in his address, the Director of Education Owerri Archdiocese, Rev. Fr. Victor Eleba recalled that education used to be the state’s greatest industry, saying that “we once rose so high but have fallen so low that it is almost unrecognizable now.”
Calling for support for mission schools, Fr. Eleba said: “The issue of Grants-in-Aid has always made the front burner on occasions like this. If one takes a cursory look at the level of dilapidation and facility decay in most mission schools, in spite of the best efforts our Proprietor (Archbishop Obinna) and management, the need for urgent support will therefore be better appreciated.”
Responding to the award, His Excellency Chief Ikedi Ohakim thanked the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri for the honour. He spoke at length on his administration’s various achievement and reforms in the field of education. He was accompanied by the deputy governor during his regime, Chief Mrs. Ada Okwuonu, the Education Commissioner at that time, Prof. Jude Njoku etc.
Other awardees also spoke at the occasion commending the effort of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri to reposition education in the state and pledged support.
The occasion featured Power-Point Presentation of some mission schools, showing their level of decay at the time of their handover and their current improving condition.
Our reporter who covered the event said there was nothing like “Best Governor Award,” which some local tabloids and the social media mischievously claimed was presented to a former governor.