Osun’s Free Education Farce

The way and manner in which Western Nigeria, or Yoruba land, embraced western education has gone out of history and into legend. The flowering first of all by missionaries and then by governments at all levels as well as the pioneering contributions of individuals, gave the Yorubas a terrific head start.

The crowning glory, of course was the pivotal free education programme of the focused and innovative government led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo starting in 1957. The effect was as profound as it was monumental. At the stroke of a pen, the Yorubas leap frogged the development process. An irreversible social revolution was unleashed. If one attempts to assess its impact, you only have to look around you..

Within a generation, there was virtually no family left in Yoruba land which had not produced a graduate from a tertiary institution. The social and economic advantage was profound and produced environs glances from the rest of the country. Unfortunately constant disruptions by successive military incursions into the polity have slowed down the process. The logical conclusion envisaged was the culmination of the programme in compulsory education up to the age of say 16. It has been quite a feat.

With his military mind-set, it is hardly surprising that Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the maladministrator of Osun state is wreaking havoc over this superb achievement. Famously disdainful of hearing, Oyinlola has unleashed a no-holds barred assault on the educational system of Osun State. Lacking as is usual, a blue print, the administration has simply cannibalized the schools system. The situation is really quite deplorable. For those who can afford it, there have been mass withdrawals from the system.

What about those, the overwhelming majority who cannot afford it? For them, it’s tough luck! Most of the government functionaries and PDP apparatchiks have already withdrawn their wards, because they can afford it.

For those remaining in the run down system, it’s a case of double jeopardy. Not only are the schools in a mess, but also they have to pay through the nose to get inadequate services. Extortion is the order of the day. Double jeopardy indeed. The goods being purchased are ridiculous. A check list goes as follows:- inadequate classroom; ludicrous teachers to pupil ratios; dilapidated structures. Farcically, the absence of chairs and desks in the schools has compelled the public schools’ managements to instruct incoming pupils to come along with their own chairs and desks. All this is happening if we may care to recall, in the Oyinlola-led administration.

It is not entirely surprising that under this bizarre system, teachers are disoriented. Lack of motivation is clearly induced by an utterly worthless remunerative package, which can hardly take them home. While awarding itself all manner of perquisites and undeserved privileges, the Osun State Government is criminally reluctant to negotiate a real living wage for its teachers. Obviously education is not at all on the list of priorities for Oyinlola and his merry band of collaborators.

Like King Chanute, Oyinlola is carrying out a valiant but self-defeating proposition – this being the roll back the tides. He will fail. It is quite unacceptable that the high point of his illegitimate rule is an attempt to destroy the future prospects of hundreds of thousands of school children.

In a world, which has become skill-based, this is tantamount to a War Crime. The attempt to create a class divide based on limiting access is utterly reprehensible.. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton was forever insistent that ‘no child must be left behind’. What we are seeing is an attempt to limit the future of other people’s children. This is irresponsible. The present reign of terror in Osun State cannot last forever. The terror as we are seeing is not just physical but also mental. We keep faith that the good Lord, munificent as always in his benevolence, will be on the side of his people.

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