School Governing Board: Solution to malaise of Oyo public schools?

As the Oyo state government trades its system of educational management to a newer model of Schools Governing Board that requires a restructuring of the education system, attention is on the government to see how effective the system will be and if indeed, the paradigm shift will herald a new dawn for education. YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE reports.

Over the last few weeks, there had been high powered deliberation of strong minds within Oyo state to seek ways of reviving the almost comatose educational sector in the state and also bridge the seeming communication gap between stakeholders in the sector to ensure that pupils do not suffer the back lash of failure within the system.

The various meetings and rubbing of minds finally gave birth to what has been established as law in as the report has been developed into a white paper which listed the various steps and policies that the government will take to give education in Oyo state a pride of place among other states and also position the students better to be the best they can be

And at the weekend, the state government not only released the white paper to the public, it also went on to adopt one of the laid down steps by establishing the School Based Management Board (SBMB), to take over the affairs of running public schools within the state.

The SBMB is given the mandate to among many other things comply with terms and conditions of engagement, ensure full infrastructural development and maintenance of schools, create accountability mechanism for site based actors and ensure the transparency of processes, improve quality of school programmes and efficiency of teachers thereby raising students’ achievement level, provide adequate teaching and learning resources and ensure full participation of stakeholders in management.

The committee had recommended that the composition of the board should comprise one accredited representative of Old Students Association of the School, one accredited representative of Parent- Teacher Association, two non-politically-partisan representatives of the community within which the school is based (one male, one female), an identified philanthropist with record of previous support for the school, a representative of the traditional ruler/community leader, a representative of Non-Governmental/community based organisation (NGO/CBO), head boy and head girl of the school as well as two representatives of faith based organisations in the community.

The committee further recommended that the principal should be part of the board as the secretary while the local Inspector of Education should serve as ex-officio member, adding that the Chairman of the board who should be determined by members of the board must have a tenure of four years only in office while membership must be voluntary and without remuneration and the board should meet at least once in a school term but can hold emergency meetings when the needs arises.

In response to the recommendations,  government in its white paper agreed with the recommendation and directed the paradigm shift to be in the form of one School’s Governing Board (SGB) per secondary school with a model in two categories; that the membership/leadership and scope shall be suitably determined by government and that they would not be entitled to any remuneration from government while in both categories, government will be responsible for payment of salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff, curriculum development and quality control with a mandate that every SGB meets once a month to properly discharge its functions.

Government also directed that performance targets be set for the SGBs while priority should be given to equitable and proper distribution of subject teachers to all secondary school considering that the model is a departure from the system of administration of schools in the state at present.

Government has expressed the belief that the SGB model will pave the way of cleaning the rot and reposition the education sector to put it on a better pedestal that will be pupil welfare oriented.

Individuals, stakeholders and various bodies have also affirmed that the new government policy is a step in the right direction. Future Leaders Assembly (FLA), a nongovernmental body commended the government for efforts that brought about the white paper on the report of the committee on participatory management of schools, describing it as the right step to end the decay in the educational sector in the state.

FLA while speaking through its Chairman, Bowale Hassan, also lauded the government for the establishment of the School Governing Boards (SGB)  for public schools in the state, adding that this will make management of schools easier and also provide modern learning facilities for students and teachers, raising the bar on the standard of education in the state.

According to the group, government has taken a step in the right direction, adding that the policy will improve education system in the state and create a good learning environment for the students in different secondary schools.

Also speaking with Nigerian Tribune, Esther Olowoye, a teacher in a private school stated that it is a good development that can favour every one without trampling on the rights or welfare of any party.

“I commend the Oyo State government on the creation of the school governing board which will provide management functions for secondary schools in the state. Although, it is unfortunate that this decision was taken after the crisis witnessed in the education sector recently.

“The government should have considered this option instead of the ones some people considered as a step to sell public schools in the state. The SGB will open effective channels of communication among the various stakeholders in the education sector. This will improve the conditions of our various schools in terms of academics, infrastructure and furniture,” she said.

It was not however all commendations as they further warned that there is a need for transparency, diligence and collaboration for the process to be a success. FLA on its part urged that every individual involved in the process should embrace the principles of accountability, fairness and transparency as this is an important ingredient to the success of the SGB, adding that government has a huge role to play.

“Government, SGB members and parents should know that transparency is a key factor in determining the success of government programmes and policy. The government, SGB members and indeed all stakeholders should be transparent with this policy to ensure that the vision is realized. Also, parents’ support is essential to ensure that the white paper is implemented and the SGB model succeeds. They have been asked to continue the payment of the N1000 levy and the government has assured that this fund is meant for the development of schools.  We believe that parents need to contribute their quota to the revival of education in the state.

“While it is understandable that the N1000 may be difficult for some parents to afford, we appeal to them to strive to contribute their quota to the success of the education of their wards,” FLA stated.

Tolulope Lambo, a public officer also had a say on what should be done. “The SGB is a good model as it will afford everyone to have first hand information about the happenings in schools. Not being privy to the programmes in our schools has affected the educational standard of our various schools. The SGB will be a success if all stakeholders in the education industry contribute their quota and work as team with the major aim of improving the quality of education for the trainers and the pupils,” she stated.

Attention is now on government to see whether it will follow to the letter, all steps in accordance with functions and guidelines highlighted in the white paper and whether the implementation of the new policy will be the cure needed for the malaise of the education system in Oyo state.