The new policy on education by the Oyo state government as one of its moves to reform and sensitise the education sector has no doubt raised some dust among stakeholders in the state.
Going by the new policy, the automatic promotion being enjoyed by the public school students has been halted and it was stated that students who fail to meet the promotion criterion of 50 per cent and above in five subjects with either, English Language and Mathematics would be made to repeat their classes.
However, an alarming statistics of students’ failure was released by the Chairman, Oyo House Committee on Education, Science and Technology, Honourable Afeez Adeleke at the last Thursday’s plenary session, while presenting the committee’s report on the violence that followed the cancellation of automatic promotion in secondary schools in the state.
According to the statistics, a total of 74, 699 students of SSS1 and SSS 2, who sat for the 2016 Joint Promotion Examination out of 132,629 students, failed to meet the criterion of 50 percent and above five subjects with either, English Language and Mathematics as required by the new policy, hence the students were asked to repeat their classes.
The committee noted also that the number of repeaters would have been 102, 583, if the state government had insisted on the initial promotion criterion plan.
Earlier, the state government was said to have, at a meeting involving the state’s Ministry of Education, the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPS) and other stakeholders in the education sector, adopted a review of the promotion criteria to reduce the number of repeaters at the instance of the committee on Education, Science and Technology.
It will be recalled that some student-protesters at Isale-Oyo Community High School, Oyo Town set their classrooms on ablaze, owing to this development, while others resolved to enormous facilities in their schools to show their grievances.
Following this statistics revealed by the government, to some stakeholders in the sector, secondary school education in the state is on the verge of collapse if the government does not take strict measures to save it, while some school of thought see the new policy as imbalance and uncalled for.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, the Oyo State, Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teacher, declared an absolute support of the union on the new policy.
“We are in support of the new policy because the automatic promotion will neither favour the government and the parents; even the so called student and their teachers. It would enable students to seat tight and let them to know they are in for real business. The policy now gives room for quality production in the states’ secondary schools.
He condemned series of protests being staged by the affected students, saying that their actions and inactions are pointer the level of decadence in the society.
“Why should a student go wild because he is simply asked to sit down and study his books? I don’t see the reason a good child should go about burning tyres and causing riots in the society. We really detest this deviant behavior by the students. We are not in support of it at all and that is why we are saying that parents have a lot of work to do concerning the upbringing of their children.”
“Imagine how a parent would feel, if his\her child’s name is mentioned among those who burnt down blocks of classrooms in their school, all in the name of protest. The question is, if they are doing this at the secondary school level, what if they now get to higher institution?
While he advised parents to train their children very well from home, He noted that most parents don’t have time for their children and that is why they are paying for it now.
“If students should vandalise government’s properties, they are going to pay for it, I mean the parents would be charged for whatever their children might have destroyed. I had being to two schools this week, where vadanlisation occurred and ordered that the parents of those students be held responsible for whatever they had destroyed, ” he relayed.
Dr Femi Akinwumi, former HOD, Educational Management Department, University of Ibadan, is of the opinion that even though an automatic promotion is not the best for any academic system, the new decision to make students repeat classes, should have been implemented through a gradual process.
“Government should have informed the students before arm rather than them being taken unawares the way it did. The government should have carried the students along in the implementation of the new policy, not just only the principals and the teachers, because there cannot be principals or teachers if there are no students.”
He reiterated that since the students are the end users of the new policy, they should have been involved in the process. He also informed that things are not done this way in advanced countries.
“There should be at least a little respect for these students too. It is not too good for the government to just wake up and say there would no longer be automatic promotion in public schools, it should have at least let them know. Government should learn not to handle the students like goats,” he stressed”
He however totally condemned actions of protesters, who took laws into their hands, saying if secondary school students at this level could go to the length they went to show their displeasure, what would happen at the tertiary level.
He also attributed the outrageous figures of failures during the news to some political undertone, out to frustrate the initiatives of the government in sanitising the sector through the new order.
A Vice Principal in the South West area school of the state, who pleaded anonymity, while speaking to Nigerian Tribune said teachers should not be blamed for students’ mass failure in public schools, rather the students and their parents should be held accountable.
The government is in the good position to take that decision, so that the students can sit up and their parents alike. The parents feel everything should be done by the teachers. You would see of some students coming to school around 9am with the excuse that they live far away.”
The truth is teachers are also responsible to their children. If teachers should run to school at 7am, I don’t see the reason students should be coming around past 10am. Some of them are even dropped in school by their parents, complaining that they live far away. More so, despite that the government owes us outstanding salaries and arrears, yet we give our best to these students. “
The school fences have been destroyed by the students. About three weeks ago, some students came from the neighbouring school (name withheld) and they nearly killed three of our teachers with machete. Those teachers left the hospital about just two days ago. “
The school came here, telling us that our school is too peaceful, They inquired how many students were promoted to the next class in the school, unlike in their school where so many of them were asked to repeat their classes. The principal went to confront them in the company of some teachers, not knowing that some of them had jumped over the fence into the school. The first two teachers of teachers, who went with him, were cut with machete, “he revealed.
While he lauded the efforts of the state government in eradicating mass failure in public schools, he also charged parents to rise up to their responsibilities and assist their wards to also sit up academically.
Meanwhile, other principals who were also consulted by Nigerian Tribune refused to air their views, claiming they would have nothing to do with or say to the press on the issue. Rather, they referred us to the Ministry of Education where the scripts of the students were marked.
Mr Lukeman Agunbiade, whose child was also affected by the new policy said though the new development is saddening, he promised to buckle up in his parental responsibilities, while he advised other parents not to be discouraged either.