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Imperatives of Abia-Australia exchange programme


Recently, 120 teachers and selected Education Secretaries in  the three senatorial zone in Abia State were afforded the opportunity to upgrade their knowledge through a training programme facilitated by an Australian- based Non-by Governmental Organisation, Precious Kids Education Empowerment (PKEE). The four- day programme is part of the state government’s efforts to give education a place of pride .The programme which was conducted by some experts addressed some critical areas such as classroom management, teacher- student relationship, first aid and security alert.

The training came at a very auspicious time. For instance, the “security alert” component of the training was particularly relevant in the face of kidnapping and other forms of criminality across the country. The training is expected to equip school officials and administrators with skills to enable them take a pro-active approach to their schools’ safety through a variety of different tools and methods.
Security, according to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a basic human need. If a school is threatened, it will affect the student and teacher attendance including physical and mental state. Besides, no parent would want to expose his ward to danger in  a school that is  not secured. A safe and secured learning environment would not only afford the students and teachers the opportunity to concentrate but would reflect on their overall performance.
Classroom management is another component of the training that requires a critical approach. Students define the term as the measure adopted by teachers to ensure that classroom lessons run smoothly despite disruptive behaviour. It also implies the prevention of disruptive behaviour. They are actions and methods the teachers use to achieve a successful and conducive learning environment. A report by the US National Education Association in 1981 states that 36 percent of teachers said they would probably not go into teaching if they had to decide again because of “negative student attitudes and discipline”.
Arguments by notable scholars state that once a teacher loses control of their classroom, it becomes increasingly difficult to regain control.  Research also indicates that the time a teacher has to correct misbehaviour caused by poor classroom management skills results in a lower rate of academic engagement. Effective classroom management involves clear communication of behavioural and academic expectations as well as a cooperative learning environment. The list of the advantages of classroom management is inexhaustible.
The teacher- student relationship is another strategic component of the training programme. This component has a strong relationship with classroom management because student relationship fosters a conducive learning environment. On the contrary, a sour teacher- student relationship would engender a hostile learning environment. This component is as important as salt is to food because the student spends appreciable number of hours with his teacher daily.
The need to provide first aid services in schools cannot be overemphasised. The basis of this claim is that health problems arise in schools that require urgent attention before the arrival of emergency service providers. Providing staff with first aid training is very essential. This will ensure prevention of more damage and saving of lives.
On this note, there is a call to review the first aid component of the training to include students. Proponents are of the view that equipping students with such training will make them cater for the welfare of each other. To buttress this argument, emergency health situations can arise in hostels or football pitches when the teachers are not available and the students are the ones to respond to the situation. Training students in first aid services is not only helpful in the school environment, but also in the community.
Indeed, this programme reflects Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu’s commitment to ” develop an all-inclusive master plan to drive development and progress in the education sector; and to  promote the emergence of Abia as an education hub/destination by attracting and fast-tracking the establishment of internationally recognised education providers; taking advantage of the secure environment and social infrastructure”.
Before now, the administration had initiated the Education for Employment Programme (E4E). A programme conceptualised to ensure that education leads to employment by imbuing the youths with the technical skills to enable them become self-employed or sought after. E4E will reactivate Technical and Vocational Training (TVET) in the state.
In the future the programme will graduate over 100,000 youths trained in various technical and vocational skills. The programme is with the engagement of United Kingdom-based Kiara College to revive vocational and technical education in the state.
The programme is aimed at elevating the state  to a Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SME) hub of the country.

Ukegbu, a public policy analyst wrote from Umuahia, Abia State.

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