As thousands jostle to transfer children into Oyo public schools
Following the cancellation of all fees in public schools across Oyo state, the state government has further given a window of opportunity to aspiring parents that want to transfer their children to public schools. YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE, who visited the Ministry of Education to observe the process, reports that thousands have responded to the call and there are too many students trying to cross to public schools more than the spaces available.
The Ministry of Education in Oyo state is like other ministries; an administrative complex where policies are implemented to improve the quality of education in the state. And as such, the atmosphere around the ministry exhibits that it is not a playground or an environment where frivolities; loitering, unnecessary noise and such are allowed.
This however was not the case in the last few days. The ministry has become home for many students and their parents during work hours as they converge in their hundreds to explore the opportunity given by government for parents that want to transfer their children into public schools.
The rush to get space before the available spaces are filled up has made the parents frantic as they drag their children to the ministry pressuring personnel to help them bring out their children’s forms first so they can quickly go back to the desired schools. The crowd was massive that the whole ministry has been turned into a kind of family compound where relatives converge at different points to discuss or just sit down to relax before facing other duties.
To make the process faster and create a more conducive environment, the ministry created several points to make it easier to attend to many people simultaneously and also to disperse the crowd that has made it difficult to access the ministry for other activities.
The major attraction for many of the parents is the fact that they do not have to pay fees as many said they were already overburdened by school fees debt. This may be the reason the government stated that the development is a proof that the free education policy of the government is a necessity.
Speaking on the issue, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, stated that the way the people in the state are rushing to utilise the opportunity shows that the free education policy of the state government is well received by the people, adding that the government was pleased to discover that measures taken so far in the implementation of the free education policy have started yielding fruits.
“We are particularly pleased that a number of parents have been besieging the Oyo State Ministry of Education in the past few weeks to make inquiries on steps to be taken to transfer their wards from private schools to public schools. The huge turnout of parents and guardians seeking transfer for their wards to our public schools in view of the free education policy of Governor Makinde’s administration, has, therefore, necessitated the introduction of some administrative measures which are meant to control admission and safeguard illegality in the admission process,” Adisa stated.
The fact that the government has opened the schools for mass admission and transfer however does not erode the basics of ensuring quality is not eroded as the policy comes with terms and conditions which are put in place to ensure that as many students as possible are given admission without compromising quality and standard.
There is a required fee that is expected to be paid by each student seeking transfer and such fees vary based on stipulated conditions. But before any applicant will pay, he must first go to the school of his choice to confirm that there is vacancy and the school is ready to give him space after which such applicants will pay the stipulated fee.
Speaking on the modalities behind the payment, Adisa stated that there have been a huge number of parents applying to register their wards in Oyo public primary and secondary schools, and this necessitated the introduction of charges to offset administration procedures as approved by the administration.
“As we have stated before now, the policy of the state government is to promote free education in line with its desire to uplift the standards and enhance excellence in educational pursuits. In line with the current administration’s four-point service agenda, education, health, security and economic expansion via agriculture value chain have been so designated as the major pillars. The administration hereby assures the people of its commitment to implement the agenda for the good of all in Oyo State,” Adisa stated.
The process of getting a transfer is based on the following terms; collection of letter of vacancy from the principal of the intended school, showing of original result of the students, attaching receipt of payment to transfer form after the teller or e-receipt of payment had been confirmed by the Accountant General’s office. However there are exceptions.
Students coming from illegal or unapproved private schools are not allowed to transfer into public schools in Oyo state and there is no admission for students in Junior Secondary School three or Senior Secondary School three.
Also, students that want to transfer from one public school to another within the state based on diverse reasons which included proximity to home or personal preference, are not required to pay any fee; for them it is free. The only condition is that the free forms are distributed through the office of the Local Inspectorate of Education and not the ministry.
Charges for obtaining forms for transfer of students to Oyo State public schools also differ based on certain criteria; those seeking transfer from private schools within Oyo state are required to pay N7, 500, those seeking transfer from other states of the federation excluding and cities; Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt will pay N10, 000, while those from states identified as major states; Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt will pay N15, 000 and applicants seeking transfer from neighboring countries will pay N20,000.
Defending the cost involved in the process of transfer, Adisa reiterated that, “let us also place on record that the decision to implement the charges listed above is not aimed at constraining the people, but to ensure standardisation in the process of transferring pupils and students from private to public schools.”
At present, the ministry is still counting the number of applications that it has received as the process is still ongoing and there have been over 3000 applications. The aura that permeates the crowd of applicants and their parents that were seen around the Ministry of Education is that of people that are ready to do whatever to be one of those that will get a slot out of the many seeking transfer.
Speaking on what may be the likely effects of the transfer and whether there is no fear of overpopulation, a parent who identified herself as Mrs Kafayat Adedipe stated that she is sure this will not be the case. “I can see that we are so many looking for this opportunity but I am also confident that government will not just dump the students, they will make adequate arrangements to ensure they have the best. I am so happy that once I scale through this, the issue of school fees and the stress will be a thing of the past for me,” she said.
Also speaking to Nigerian tribune, another parent, Mrs Mujibat Bello, said it is a thing of joy that such an opportunity can come up but also expressed worry at the ability of the schools to handle the children. “This opportunity is a relief to me because I have three children and school fees had been a huge burden. But seeing this multitude is also worrisome, how will government be able to cater for all these children. I am worried that there won’t be enough facilities to give them adequate attention and qualitative education. I am only hoping there is adequate arrangements
And at present, hundreds are still hopeful that they will be able to benefit from the window of transfer given by the state government.