One among Six Point Integral Action Plan of Governor Rauf Argebesola’s administration is the promotion of functional education in the State of Osun and since he assumed the leadership position, he has work rigorously to ensure this is achieved through various interventions in the sector. In this interview with OSUN DEFENDER, The Commissioner for Education, Hon. Kola Omotunde-Young speaks on the infrastructures and achievements of the administration in the last 6 years. Excerpt:
How can you describe the intervention of government on Osun education sector?
The intervention of Aregbesola administration on education can be described as; good, innovative and comprehensive, and the intervention is in his entire sphere of education; is in infrastructure, in personnel development, improving the quality and context of education.
Recently, I was showed the performance result in the State of 2006, 2007 and I was alarmed that there were schools where there were no single students that pass English and Mathematics for several years; not to talk of five other subjects and I asked, “What happened?” The response I got was that, until Aregbesola’s Administration, nobody seemed to have cared about education. For me, that summaries what has happened.
The best performance in education before the administration was 10% of students that passed English, Mathematics and five other subjects. It was very clear that the quality of infrastructure was not worth to put human beings some of them where not good enough for pets. The rot has been for a long time and that is why it required someone that is bold to be able to make such investment in education.
In terms of the High schools, the new model schools which were 11 in number, 4 of them had started running since last year and two other have started taking students this September and before this year runs out, the remaining ones would have started running. They are scattered across the state to be able to take students and the buildings are world class.
And about the Middle schools, 22 of them have been completed and we also have 20 Elementary schools; for you to know the standing of those schools, UNICEF brought several States to Osun State to understudy Osun’s approach to education. They (all the 14 states and UNICEF) commended Osun State for all the achievement they saw and as a matter of fact, quite a number out of the representatives were encouraging Mr. Governor to influence his colleagues in their states to do same.
During the plans to erect new structures, some structures were demolished by government, there is a fear factor about the capacity in the new schools, are they enough to cater for the population due to the increase in enrolment of students in schools?
The government had to bring down some schools and reclassify it; the government had to bring down some sheds, dangerous infrastructure being used as schools. When it was brought to my notice that he will pull down some structures; I personally took a building engineer to a school without the knowledge of the governor. When we got to the school he told me, “Uncle! These structures are not good enough to stand and what it will cost you is not to renovate them but rebuilding them is the best”. I went to meet the governor and I told him that, and he said, “Now I know you did your home work”.
There are still some structures that are standing that shouldn’t be standing, the structure typically in this part of the world, until something bad happens we do not evaluate, if any of those structures go down while students are under them that is when we move to action. But for us, structures that are not strong enough, we have to move pupils out of them even if they are still standing.
In terms of population, there was no structure brought down that there was no alternative place to put the pupils even before the High Schools came up and usually what we do; the High schools in terms of population will take 33,000 students if all the level High schools come up…that is about 80% of the students population currently. We do not expect that after all the schools that there won’t be further development.
Someone came to meet me that a school did not have a toilet. I was angry that, how can you spend one day in an environment with students without functional toilet and I ask that how do you expect them to answer the call of nature? It is only animals that I knows that answer the call of nature wherever they are, that once you bring up children to also do that; what you are actually doing is running a zoo, if those children started behaving like animals society start complaining. They were running schools as zoo before Aregbesola came without meaning to run zoos. If you train a child in an atmosphere where there is no toilet facility, in a school that there was no functional toilet. Some of those students will become Governors, Directors of Education, Permanent Secretaries, Commissioners; they will not see why it is wrong not to have toilet in schools, they will see as normal because they will not see it as abnormal.
What is the government doing to build and inculcate the culture of maintenance to sustain these structures?
The fundamental problem is not the culture of maintenance but the fundamental problem is the quality and functionality of our education. So, the quality and functionality of our education do not let us recognize the importance of maintenance and plan ahead for that eventuality.
The government of Ogbeni Aregbesola as those schools are being open has arranged for the concession of the facility such that the teachers do not even have to be saddled with the job of maintaining it. In those schools you have commitment to facility manager to ensure that at no time those schools fall to the situation of disrepair. By God’s grace, Governor Aregbesola will hand over to someone who has had top quality and functional education to a thinking person and not just a rabble rouser and noise maker so that they will understand some of this concept and also be able to take it on and further.
Speculations are flying around that the workers in the ministry of Education will be deployed to schools, how true is this?
Before the advent of Aregbesola’s administration what was normal apart from what we call Unity schools was 500 students 3 teachers, 700 students 6 teachers but during Aregbesola administration 6000 teachers were employed, beyond those 6000 teachers, the government came up with O-YES scheme which some of them employed were moved to schools, even with employment of about another 6000 O-YES that were moved to schools; they are not even enough.
The most important industry for any nation that want to succeed and develop is education, is not just education as learning the rule and facts but helping the children to think. It is education that makes children be critical thinking adults and makes them to be productive and take responsibilities.
I say, since the time of Awolowo till Aregbesola administration, I do not think that there is any government that understood the problems of education; they understood part of the problem to reduce illiteracy. But understanding that the real problem is to create critical thinking, productive and responsible citizens with character and that are encapsulated in the Omoluabi philosophy of education.
When the colonialist came they needed people to be useful and support their aspirations and support them in running government and system so they need to educate us. They didn’t need to educate leaders, disrupters but they needed to educate well behaved, responsible followers and servants; people that will take instructions and do it the way they are instructed to do. They gave us education that met their purpose and we haven’t change that fundamental bases of that education philosophy given by white men the only thing we do is we improve on them.
Those who have being innovative among our people are outliners and outsiders ones who by nature God created them as critical thinkers and system help them to improve. But in terms of our generality of our education the philosophy of our education it was not to create critical thinkers, productive people and responsible people and that is why the typical graduate of our society is looking for a job because he was trained to help someone, he was not trained to be a creator, critical thinkers and productive; he was not trained to be lazy. But the real Yoruba were like caricatures of our ancestors. Many of you won’t know that we know about alloy metal before the white people; the Ori-Olokun that you see is a metallic made.
Is the white man now, we are talking about as the originator of many discoveries whereas the Yoruba nation had them. Another example is Oranmiyan’s staff, what we see and think about it is the Mythology of somebody’s carrier. We never consider the technology that is required to be able to cast such in standing status when there were no cranes for it to stand on the ground and to be that heights and not to have fallen either through somebody heating it or through rain not to have reduced at all. It meant that those who inhabitated this place, those who call themselves Omoluabi, the real Omoluabi that the knowledge, their intellect cannot be what is dragging those of us who called ourselves descendants. Something must have happened to the whole essence and that it would take the dues. The whole essence of education is the foundation being laid by Governor Aregbesola is beyond we are passing WAEC. We are passing WAEC and that is why our performance is not where is supposed to be but the foundation that is been laid by Aregbesola is beyond that. WAEC is a foundation to create functionary productive, responsible, creative and critical thinking that we need so that society can develop from this position of poverty and backwardness and we need to understand this. If that is the going it means that we first of all develop the staff to understand to appreciate what has gone wrong, what needs to be corrected.
What are the things expected from government?
Government is not supposed to be unproductive while government is a social services is not suppose to be an unproductive social services even if you did not know it before government in Nigeria has now demonstrated to be unproductive that is why all the tiers of governance in Nigeria are broke such that they go to the federal government from the state to the local government because we live Agbero life. All of the multi-national companies came to develop our oil from the ground to sell it, when they sell it; they give us commission, which is what is called Agbero Life.
What we have lived on is collecting commission on oil that we ourselves do not really partake in developing in bringing up but it was not. In the days of Awolowo it was not so. Awolowo used the wealth of western region to educate the citizens that is why western Nigerian is still where it is in terms of development and education. I dare say that the only other government that had also done something fundamental was the government of Asiwaju Tinubu and that is why Lagos state is the only viable states in Nigerian because is the only state in Nigerian that does not have to survive on federal government to stand which Aregbesola also participated in at that time on nation of economic independence and productive economy of Lagos. But what is happening in everywhere else, we all go to Abuja to collect money and all of us if we open shops and we employ people and they cannot generate the money with which we have been paying them whether we like it or not after sometimes that shop we close down. That is how government has been run but it’s running like that also because of the quality and the functionality of our education. It is more or less like that in Lagos because of the foundation laid by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his assistants as governor then and so on.
Anywhere that has to be developed or something, there must be focus and diversion of all resources to it. So, it is correct if we take everybody that works for government to just education and health although we cannot do that but am using just education and health as an example and that education is functional productive education. Within two or three years now, we start seeing the results of it in terms of the productivity of the society and the environment.
In the most productive countries though they don’t have any mineral resources, the most productive, they don’t have mineral resources. What they have in other Countries are productive people. Once you have productive people, everything will fall in place because productive people will produced more than they are consuming.
Currently, we consume more than we produce. Once we produce more than we consume, that is wealth. You have something to sell that someone needs and well circulate.
Robert G. Armstrong in his book said “It is the testimony to the Yoruba capacity for abstract reasoning that they could have developed and learned such a system of our own way (mentioning Yoruba Numerals, Eni, Eji, Eta…..) It is subtractive system. In the study of the world, you will find out those human beings have capacity to reason beyond natural.
People who will add value and have productive mind will be moved to schools and this is not happening only in Education ministry but all other ministries are involve. We must restructure ourselves from consumption structures to productive one.
Apart from the infrastructures in education, what other things made the government to achieve the social values that resulted to UNICEF and other States to come to Osun to learn?
The deep calleth the deep; it takes preparation. In private discussion with Aregbesola I told him that he was over prepared for the administration.
What made the state to achieve this feat is creative and efficient management strategy used by the government.
Talking about school management and the putting up of new infrastructures across the state, the government seems to have focused mainly on the conventional public primary and secondary schools without recourse to the technical colleges. It appears that government has neglected Technical colleges?
Government did not neglected Technical Colleges and I am telling you that before the end of the year you will see a tremendous impact in those colleges because if you go to those schools warehouse, you will see world class equipments there. We will utilize this platform to improve the State economy.
What is the role of parent in children’s education?
The role of parent is fundamental in the life of children. Every one of us is product of effort made on us by our parent; to give us a foundation and its shows what we are able to do.
The most important factor in the life of children is their foundation. There are no failed, dull, bad children; they are children that did not get enough parenting or society have left behind. All of us are born with different talent.
Currently, our system of education test us the same way such that a fish may be tested on how well it can climb a tree rather than testing it on how well it can swim and because the gift are not recognized, some people are condemned and they continue to see themselves as failure. Some parents did not know that is the right of the children to be properly cloth, fed and educated, is not a privilege but a right and the laws of the nation make it a right that every child must stay in school to be properly educated. We need to get parent who do not know to know these. Those of us who know should influence them about this for us to have society of literates and creative thinkers.