Setting education on a better pedestal in Oyo State

A renovated public school building. INSET: The building before the renovation.

In the last few weeks, efforts had been on by stakeholders in Oyo state to polish the rough edges of education in the state and create a middle ground for stakeholders to move the sector forward. YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE reports the efforts being made by various stakeholder units to ensure education in Oyo state attain greater heights.

 

Few months back, the education sector in Oyo state suffered some setbacks that not only put the government and teachers on a collision cause but also disrupted the school calendar and sent youths on a path of deviance. This caused stakeholders; the government, teachers and parents to take different sides of the divide though the share the same interest; welfare of the pupils.

The situation was however not allowed to fetter as various concerned people as well as parents spoke out their minds, then sought ways of breaching the gap which solely was attributed to a breakdown in communication, distortion of facts and misrepresentation of views.

After the resolution of the crisis, the state government in a bid to  put the raging issues to permanent rest and also stop further occurrence, set up a committee to look into the issues causing misunderstanding and proffer solutions for a permanent resolution of issues.

The government inaugurated the Committee on Participatory Management of Schools in Oyo state, 31- member committee was inaugurated on Tuesday, July 12, 2106 to among other responsibilities, review the status and standard of education in the state as well as recommend suitable and plausible options that will enhance the overall standard of education in the state.

The 31-man team led by Professor Adeniyi Sulaimon Gbadegesin, while submitting its report on August 30, six weeks after it was inaugurated, stated that the committee reviewed existing status and standard of education in the state by visiting 29 secondary schools in urban, semi-urban and rural communities in the eight education zones within the state.

According to him, the committee held interactive sessions with selected individuals and organizations that submitted memoranda, adding that by July 15, 2016, they had received a total of 28 memoranda and responses were grouped into five classes; participation and private management, return of schools, government-private partnership, stakeholders’ collaboration and government only.

The committee which was divided into three sub committees; technical sub-committee on memoranda and models, report writing and the peace and reconciliation committee, grappled with issues of discrepancy of data in different units of state education sector, dismal performance of students in WASSE due to non challant attitude to studies and non committal of most parents to their children’s welfare as a result of the misrepresentation of government policy on free education.

Other factors that the committee came across include non challant attitude of some teachers to work due to low morale, the wide range in students’ enrolment in schools which ranges between a maximum of 1700 to a minimum of 10 and the unwillingness of most stakeholders to collaborate with government in school management.

Speaking on the issues raised in the report submitted by the committee, Mrs. Dupe Ogunbanwo, a teacher said some points raised are valid, laying a great percentage of blame at the doorstep of parents and some teachers.

“Well, if we want to be truthful, some of the points raised by the committee are very valid, it is true that some teachers for various reasons have lost focus but this percentage is small. The bulk of the work falls on parents that do not take adequate care of their children nor monitor their progress again.

“Some parents do not even know their children’s classes or teacher while many do not know that their wards only leave home and do not go to school. Since they do not bring money out of their pockets, they became unbothered and stopped enforcing on their kids the need to focus on academic.

“Before now, you see parents standing on their child’s neck when it is time to write WAEC but now, when you call them for extension classes to prepare them, the parents will complain that you are not allowing their wards work for them and the children even are too lazy, what they want is short cut. It seems that because they are not paying for education, they do not care about the outcome again,” she stated.

The committee at the end of its consultations made various recommendations which include categorization of the existing 631 public secondary schools in the state from A1 to B3 as well as the subsequent merging of some schools to reduce wastage. Other recommendations are redistribution and prequalification of subject teachers to ensure the quality of human capital and efficiency in schools.

It further recommends the restructuring and alignment of the various units, organs and departments of the state educational sector to avoid ambiguity, overlapping functions and inefficiency as well as a detailed verification and auditing exercise of available infrastructure, personnel and students enrolment for categorization. And also the establishment of a school based management board (SBMB) system for the management of schools in Oyo state.

It is the opinion of the committee that the SBMB system will encourage responsiveness and autonomy, greater and quality services, low costs, greater efficiency, flexibility and commitment from stakeholders, adding that it also has the advantage of decentralizing authority and responsibility from the central (state) government authorities to school level in areas of school budgets, allocation of resources, infrastructural development planning and monitoring of teachers as well as student activities.

Speaking with Nigerian Tribune, a parent emphasized that though he is privy to the committee report and agrees with some points especially that the burden of education should not be left to the government alone, he thinks that it is imperative for government to take the bull by the horn and gird its loins as it is its responsibility to ensure education for all.

“It is true we all know what is going on in the country and the fact that government seems to be overwhelmed but it is still the responsibility of government to ensure that every child is educated and in a conducive environment even if the parents cannot afford it. So government should see it as its responsibility and work with stakeholders; parents, teachers and even religious institutions to ensure there is education for all and if there will be payment, it must be very affordable for all.

“I know that as parents, we should also be willing to work with government for the progress of our children. I will only enjoin all to work hand in hand with them so that there will be progress but government should also not forget its responsibilities or foist it on others,” Alhaji Nureni Fawaz stated.

The committee on its part was quick to add that its recommended model does not preclude the openness of government to partial/total adoption of some schools by individuals or organizations from local and international levels but added that if this will be done, it should be under stringent conditions and within the policy of the state government

This recommendation Alhaji Fawaz agreed will ensure that there is no exploitation of parents in the state and will ensure the students get the best education that the state government can afford and put them in good stead among their peers from other states.

As the committee urged the government to go ahead and put its recommended system in place as well as set up an implementation committee to work out the details within a regulated time frame,, it is hoped that stakeholders will come together and put in place a system that will work in favour of the pupils.