Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has said that parents of students found complicit in the recent burning of some public schools will be responsible for the renovation, failing which, he said, the schools will remain under lock and key.
The governor said that the decision became necessary to send a strong warning to students, including parents across the state, that the government would not condone any act of thuggery and vandalism from any group or individuals.
Ajimobi read the riot act during a town hall meeting organized by the state government at the University of Ibadan to unveil the new education policy of the state, which devolves powers to a proposed Schools Governing Board (SGB) for the management of public schools.
Students of some public schools had gone on the rampage recently, torching and vandalizing some public schools and properties in protest against the decision of the state government to cancel automatic promotion in public schools.
The governor said that the policy shift was informed by what he called the unacceptable mass failure of students in public examination over the years, a development, he said, was not in tandem with the appellation of the state as a pacesetter.
Stakeholders in the education sector, as well as civil society organisations, traditional rulers, the clergy, academics, artisans, market men and women, road transport workers, across the state had converged on the on the international conference centre of the UI to chart a new path for the sector.
Also at the event were the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji; Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Olayinka Idowu; his Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, counterpart, Prof. Adeniyi Gbadegesin; State Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Mr. Niyi Akano, among others,
In the words of Governor Ajimobi:
“Condemnation against arson and other delinquent behaviour by students should be collective. The combined efforts of parents, guardians, teachers and the government against brigandage and unbecoming acts will make these children responsible in the future. Let me say unequivocally here that parents of students found responsible for the burning of those schools will have to renovate them, failing which the government will not reopen the schools. There has to be deterrent, because if we had make scapegoat of students that toed this path in the past maybe the latest one would not have happened.
It is shameful that Oyo State that hosts the first university in the country is performing woefully in public examinations. That is why we say no to automatic promotion; we should all join hands to revamp our education in order not to mortgage the future of our children.
We decided to implement the recommendations of the committee set up to look into how we can revamp our education sector. This informed the adoption of the SGB model, which would comprise all the stakeholders, such as community leaders, parents’ teachers association, old students, head girl/boy, among others. I appreciate the efforts and enthusiasm of everybody here and I’m of no doubt that you are all willing to collaborate with the government in this renewed altruistic effort aimed at repositioning the education sector in the state.”
Ajimobi Further explained that the governing board of each school would determine the modality for the management of each school based on their peculiarities, adding that the government would continue to support the schools financially.
The governor also hinted that the crisis that had kept the LAUTECH closed for more than six months would soon be resolved; adding that the visitation panel set up by the government to resolve the imbroglio was expected to submit its report before the end of December.
In their contributions at the meeting, stakeholders applauded the introduction of the SGB for what they called its inclusiveness and participatory model.
Earlier in a welcome address, Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Olalekan Alli, said similar meetings would hold every three months in different parts of the state to address salient issues affecting the state, where, he said, participants would have the opportunity to proffer solutions.
The Onpetu of Ijeru, Oba Sunday Adediran, commended the efforts of the government in finding solutions to what he called the falling standards of education, describing the governor as a good leader that always proffered “uncommon solutions” for the growth of education and overall progress of the State.
The monarch said, “A good parent will not sit by and watch things deteriorate. It is worthy to appreciate Oyo State governor who, like a good parent, has put in place strategic solutions to counter the present deteriorated state of education in the state.
. “Education growth is tantamount to growth in every other sector of the society as it is a propeller that helps move the society at large to the promised land.”
. President-General of Nigerian Football Supporters Club, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, who is also the President of Oke-Ibadan High School Old Students, said he was a 1967 product of the school, who had teamed up with other alumni to revamp the infrastructural facilities in the school.
. The Chairman, Parents, Teachers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Abiodun Jimoh; a parent, Mr. Bayo Fasasi; NUT secretary and others who spoke at the occasion pledged their supports for the government’s resolve to confront the rot in the education sector head long
Akano who said the teachers’ union was particularly happy with the decision of state government to gazette the SGB model, stressed that the body was among those that initiated the new policy.
In a veiled response to the criticism against some teachers adjudged to be misfits in the system, he called on the government to prioritize in-service training for teachers towards capacity improvement and to also ensure due process in the recruitment process of teachers to enhance quality delivery.
The NUT scribe said, “We in the NUT are the happiest today. Our joy started the day Oyo State government gazetted the SGB model. I’m happy also to inform this gathering that we have been part and parcel of it from inception.
. “We are appealing to the government to increase the in-service training for teachers while government should also ensure compliance with due process in the recruitment of teachers to ensure quality delivery.”