Free Education With Tears In Osun State

•Teachers Are Poorly Remunerated •Pupils Are Extorted

Free education in Osun State appears to have somersaulted as torrent extortions of pupils and students of public schools in the state have exposed the failed implementation of the programme.

According to a public affairs analyst, no one could claim to have seen the education blue-print of Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola-led administration, other than the governor saying he has stamped his feet on the free education policy for elementary and post-elementary schools.

However, the mad rush into private schools in the state, has contradicted the governor’s arguement, as public schools’ teachers have elected to take their wards to the fee-paying schools not to show class, but because the teachers could mess up the future of their wards.

Investigations conducted by OSUN DEFENDER showed that some state commissioners, permanent secretaries and top government functionaries, who have children of school ages, are patronizing the neck-breaking fee-paying schools.

According to an educationist, Professor Omotoye Olorode, the gesture signals an indictment of the government.

Checks have shown that, education is not only monetized in the state, but has also become another drain-pipe for the poor parents that are buying into the free education mantra of the governor.

OSUN DEFENDER, which went round the state with the aim of getting an on-the-spot-assessment on the state of infrastructural facilities, observed that the number of classrooms available for the pupils are still grossly inadequate.

Though some new classrooms constructed by some politicians as constituency projects were seen, the dilapidated structures in the public schools clearly outnumbered the new structures, forcing the schools to abandon the deteriorated ones, a situation that has returned the system to the state of inadequacies.

While some political pundits might have bones to pick with the substandard materials that were used in building some classrooms, OSUN DEFENDER found out that some classrooms have no chairs, desks and office furniture for the teachers, a situation that has compelled the public schools’ managements to instruct their fresh intakes to come along with their chairs and desks.

The public schools in the state now seem to have become a dumping ground, as lack of instructional materials, functional laboratories and introductory technology workshops, has forced some teachers into an unsolicited sabbatical.

Further investigations conducted in some public primary schools across the state, showed that the free meal programme, which has gulped several millions of naira was a mere conduit pipe, as the food stuff given to each pupil of nursery, primaries one and two was far below the money appropriated for it.

Checks showed that N30 was booked per head in selected schools, but before the food gets to the pupil, the stuff worth of N10 would be given.

Information has it that some government agents in-charge of the free meal programme, have turned the programme to a conduit pipe, cheating the pupils in conjunction with some top school management staff.

In a related development, the teachers’ shoes are seriously pinching them, for some of them who are due for retraining courses have not been sent by the education ministry, apart from the remunerative package that could barely take them home.

Despite the fact that teachers went on national strike recently to press home their demands for better pay in form of ‘Teachers Salary Structure’ (TSS), Osun State Government appears to be very reluctant in negotiating the new development with them.

As a matter of fact, the teachers in the state were forced to take up the gauntlet with the State Commissioner for Education, Mr Jelili Adesiyan’s statement, which tended to put the teachers on the government pay-roll in a fix as touching the TSS.

It was reported that pupils in some secondary schools were made to pay for extra-mural classes popularly known as lessons, ranging from N1,500 to N2,000 per term, a situation that has become a subject of controversy in some quarters.

Meanwhile, students of the state institutions of higher learning are still angry with the hike in their school fees, a scenario that has mandated the students to stage a protest in the streets of Osogbo, Osun State capital.

Speaking to OSUN DEFENDER, a parent who gave his name as Samuel Adeoti said that the governor should stop his lip-service to free education, saying that parents are wiser now.

“Each time I see Mr. Governor saying that he has implemented free education in Osun State, I feel insulted. I think he should stop the free education mantra because it has become an old song,” said Adeoti.

However a Vice-Principal in one of the public secondary schools in Osogbo spoke to OSUN DEFENDER under a strict condition of anonymity, said that it was the free education of Oyinlola’s administration that has reduced the burden of the parents in terms of payment.

“I think, we should salute the courage of the governor for the free education programme, because parents are likely to pay more without it,” said the Vice-Principal.