Some prominent indigenes of Yorubaland who are not comfortable with the poor state of education in the geo-political zone have formed a steering committee for mobilizing
the people to contribute money to the Yoruba Education Trust Fund(YETFUND) for the purpose of returning the education of the zone to its glorious past.
The trust fund targets an initial capital outlay of N10 billion which is to rise to N50 billion as the monetary contribution by the critical mass of Yoruba people, their friends and their associates will be a continuous exercise for some years to come.
These disclosures came from the Steering Committee Chairman of YETFUND and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Ola Vincent during the press briefing/fund raising activities for the trust.
According to him, the amount of N50 billion will form the seed money for an Endowment Fund that will be professionally managed to guarantee the sustainability of the project, adding that income accruable from the investment of the Endowment Fund will cater for the sustainability of the body.
The Yoruba Trust Fund, which has as its Board of Trustees people like Prof Wale Omole, former Vice Chancellor of OAU, Ile-Ife; Mr Ola Vincent, former CBN Governor; Prince Bola Ajibola; Dr Tunji Otegbeye; Erelu Abiola Dosunmu; Chief Priscilla Kuye; Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye and so on, will spread their intervention in the zone’s education beyond classroom activities.
“This project is not just for the classroom alone, we will give vocational training to the unemployed youths in Yorubaland. We will be out to influence legislation towards allocating additional funding to education. We want to help educational administrators to run the sector properly, we will call on professionals to intervene and we also want to encourage students to face their studies;” says the former CBN Governor.
There are many other areas in which the Trust Fund also want to intervene such as unequal access to education in the zone, grossly inadequate facilities in schools and overpopulation in classrooms, with many schools presently having 60 pupils in a class instead of the United Nations recommendation of one teacher to 25 pupils per class as well as scholarship assistance to deserving students, adding that these are some of the areas the Endowment Fund will be channeled to.
These critical areas are in tandem with the objectives of YETFUND which include: to raise funds for promoting the education of Yoruba people, to help provide for the development of manpower in the education sector, to help build, finance or support the provision of educational infrastructures within Yorubaland and to promote and encourage education-focused conferences, seminars, lectures and workshops.
The inspiration driving the people behind YETFUND derives from the enviable policies of late Chief Awolowo and their impact on the socio-economic development of the region.
The former CBN boss says much of this “Chief Obafemi Awolowo realised the virtues of education and exerted everything in his power to elevate it as the foundation and focus of his programmes. The Free Education Programme and other innovative policies introduced in the West served as examples for the rest of the country.
These policies resulted in the trail-blazing developments recorded as far back as the 1960s by the Yoruba people, and this made them the envy of their neighbours. If the pace of development in education and other fields initiated in the West had been followed through, the whole country would have benefitted immensely; and some of the problems currently facing the Yoruba race and indeed the whole country would have been obviated.”
“We should not sit down around listlessly bewailing the lack of facilities and progress all over the country. Rather, individually and in groups, we should wake up and tread the path of good planning, dedication and sacrifice in order to achieve wider and deeper levels of development of educational and health facilities for all.”
All the altruistic educational programmes of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the West, according to Vincent, have been jettisoned, with the Yoruba people fast becoming educationally disadvantaged, a situation that forces the rich to send their children to overseas schools.
His words: “Since the unexpected termination of the Second Republic, our education descended to the doldrums. Scholarships stopped. Bursary assistance took flight. As a result, today in Yorubaland, 2.2 million children do not have the benefit of formal education. This has come about not through their fault but through the socio-economic situation of pauperised families and the gradual extinction of the middle class.”
“This happens in a country that spends far less than the 26 per cent minimum of annual budget that UNESCO prescribes. In several of our states, we have cases of up to 120 students in one class, many of them finding seating space on the bare floor.”
Drawing attention to the extent of the education rot in Yorubaland, Vincent revealed that in one of the most sophisticated
We should wake up and tread the path of good planning, dedication and sacrifice
states in the South-West, dropouts litter the entire spectrum of schooling, with statistics from the state showing that almost 67 percent of primary school children cannot enrol there; of those who enrol, only 20 per cent finish primary school; only 12 percent of children starting primary school go on to complete secondary education; only 40 per cent of primary and secondary school students complete schooling; education expenditure and share of Gross National Product being a paltry 0.7 percent; life expectancy being 47.4 years and infant mortality put at 96 for every 1,000 births.”
To allow this unsavoury trend to continue unchecked, says Ola Vincent, will hang the nation’s future on a slow-boiling volcano of area boys, area girls, area fathers and area mothers, adding that YETFUND was initiated to build a pool of sustainable funds that can serve the youth today and in the future.
He explained that YETFUND derives its drive solely from a spirit of altruism, urging other ethnic groups to join the crusade to ensure a rapid educational development of all parts of the country.