By Wasiu Kolawole Omotunde-Young
- Continued from last week
Those world class model schools were mostly fully utilised before the government led by Aregbesola handed over in 2018.
When strict entrance examinations were conducted for the first set of those schools, it returned very few candidates even when the pass mark was reduced to 30%. Then the common man on the streets were sold the lies that Aregbesola built those schools for the children of his elite friends and acquaintances from Lagos.
When the pupils were offered the option – whether they passed the qualifying examination or not – to relocate to any of the new schools or remain in their dilapidated schools, the stampede by the pupils and parents to relocate to the new high schools had to be managed to prevent accidents. No parent chose to retain his/ her child in the dilapidated schools.
It then became clear that, left to the pupils who were in schools all over the state, they were not concerned with “old students” attachments to any school”. They wanted quality education in world class environments.
It turned out that most of the “stakeholders” who were fighting for their “old schools”, which were dilapidated, had no children, grandchildren or wards in the dilapidated schools.
Were all the former schools for which elite old students – whose children were not pupils in the schools – abandoned? NO. Not at all.
Some were already developed and some were being developed as Middle Schools in line with the Nigerian Education Policy which separates Junior Secondary Schools (JSS I-III) which are financed and managed by UBEC and SUBEB and whose teachers are employed and paid by SUBEB, from Senior Secondary Schools (SSS I-III) which are 100% state government owned schools.
Do some schools need to be collapsed? Yes, if resources are to be optimised to provide “Quality Functional Education for all”. No if it is just business as usual; “Schooling for the People” not minding the outcome.
I was informed long before now that the world class model schools built and equipped by the administration of Aregbesola were being underutilised but didn’t want to believe it, even though I should have expected this as a consequence of some ill-advised actions by the succeeding government of returning pupils to schools with badly degraded infrastructure, not fit for human habitation, just to satisfy complaints of nostalgia by elite old students of those schools, who neither repaired the schools nor put their own children or grandchildren there.
I was painfully awakened from my dream when I read the articles published in the Vanguard Newspaper of 18th August by Shina Abubakar and Nation Newspapers of Aug 19th, 2023 by Toba Adedeji, in which they credited to those with the responsibility to manage education in Osun, that the schools are being grossly underutilised and no hint of any progress in completing the school in Iwo.
I understand that currently, those schools are under populated and underutilized, while pupils are put in schools without adequate facilities.
The common man (and woman) should challenge the status quo and insist on the world class schools built for them being fully utilised.
It is inconceivable, scandalous and irresponsible for any right-thinking people or government to underutilise; under whatever guise these model high schools built and equipped with government money; the resources of the people.
It is important for the people of the state to show more interest in their own affairs and question any one, any government and all involved with education, why their children should be denied opportunities in those world class model schools and be put in under equipped schools, some of which have no functional laboratories, toilets and structures, good for human habitation.
It is time for parents forum, community leaders and social rights groups to demand and insist that the model High Schools be fully utilised to their carrying capacities (almost 3000 each) so that government resources would not be put to waste on the alter of politics. They should demand governance from those in government and ensure the best and most efficient utilisation of resources.
If we want a better Nigeria, we should all show more interest in how we are being governed and where our children are trained.
If the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) diligently inspect schools and insist on meeting requirements (specified in their own manuals as minimum requirements) for laboratories, teaching resources and teachers, before schools are allowed to present pupils for Junior and Senior School Certificate Examinations (JSCE & SSCE), 95% of what governments in many states in Nigeria refer to as schools would not qualify to present pupils for these examinations.
However, WAEC and NECO seem to have learnt to work with governments in Nigeria by a policy of not digging deep or ruffling feathers but concerning themselves only with the sanctity of their own examinations.
The outcome of this is the examination-focussed, low quality and dysfunctional education that leads to examination malpractices, unemployment and unemployable citizens.
Awolowo revolutionised Western region by providing free and universal education. It was focused on literacy and numeracy. By the late 1960s, Awolowo was writing and discussing all round quality, functional education for all, beyond literacy and numeracy, if society was to develop sustainable prosperity.
Aregbesola has been a diligent student and follower of Awolowo. The governance of Osun under him transcended the level of “Schooling for the People”. It operated at the level of “Quality World Class Education for All” with a vision of “sustainable prosperity in individual life and society.”
Any decisions that lead to underutilisation of those modern, fully equipped world class high schools in Osun, or abandoning the uncompleted one while pupils are in under resourced schools, will be retreating Osun education from “Quality world class Education for All” to the era of “Schooling for the People” with no care for quality or function.
Fortunately, posterity will remember who built, who upgraded, who downgraded, who completed and those who abandoned.