By Abuchi Onwumelu
The Archbishop and Metropolitan, Onitsha Catholic Archdiocese, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, and the Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial district, Senator Victor Umeh have attributed the Anambra students' global recognition to the government, Church partnership.
Archbishop Okeke said during the grand finale of the diamond jubilee celebration of St. John's Science and Technical College, Alor in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State, that handing over schools to missionaries by the state government was the best thing that had happened in the state since its creation.
While commending Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State for recently presenting a cheque of N357, 136,875 to 729 mission schools belonging to Catholics and Anglicans in the state for upgrade of infrastructure, Archbishop Okeke further explained that the reason for the hike in school fees in most mission schools was due to feeding and payment of salaries of workers.
'There is a hike in school fees in mission schools due to feeding and payment of salaries. We have 46 staff here in St John's school, Alor, but government is paying 26 while we pay 20 others.
'Let government employ some technicians that are qualified to teach here to make things easy for us. Our intention is to keep our society going when our generation fizzles out. It is important to empower our children and one of the greatest means of doing that is through education,' he said.
The Archbishop however announced a scholarship to the best graduating JSS3 student and any SS3 student that made up to 8 'As' in their WAEC examinations, promising to train them up to university level.
For his part, Senator Umeh, representing Anambra Central, said the handing over of schools to missions by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) led government in Anambra had restored the lost glory of mission schools in the state.
Umeh however described technical and vocational education as the foundation in children's formation, even as he expressed gladness that the students of the institution now engaged in welding, fabrication, manufacturing of paints and glass doors, which, he said, would place them be in better positions to tackle societal challenges.
He noted that most schools in Anambra State were among the best in the country, winning global recognitions.
'It wouldn't have been possible without the return of schools to the missions,' Umeh said.
In an address, the President, Old Boys Association of the institution, Chief Cyprian Afunugo, said they were happy that the school that was founded in 1958 had metamorphosed into a science and technical college, stressing that their alma matter started witnessing massive infrastructural development since schools were returned to missions and grant-in-aides provided to boost education.
He singled out one Chief Nnamdi Okoye, a former principal of the school, for praise for his contributions in uplifting the school and safeguarding its property from the hands of land grabbers.
Also speaking, the School Manager, Rev Fr. Anthony Nzomiwu, thanked the Old Boys Association for providing laboratory equipment, education trophies and other awards, as well as others who had contributed in making the institution a better place for learning.
He disclosed that they had erected about 15 buildings since its hand over to missions, saying that their plan was to make the place a world centre for learning but solicited the help of the Old Boys in provision of a functional library to help independent researchers; a clinic; and buses to ease students' movement.
An award to Senator Chris Ngige; Engr Emeka Eze; Sir Cyprian Afunugo; Chief S.M.C. Ugochukwu; Chief Peter Okafor; Nnamdi Okafor; Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, and cultural dance display were the highlights of the occasion.