No to Re-arrangement and Merger of Schools in Osun State
Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) Osun State Chapter
No to Re-arrangement and Merger of Schools in Osun State
- No to demolition of Fakunle High School for a Shopping Mall
- For massive funding of education, renovation of all schools and free education
The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR), Osun State Chapter rejects the neo-colonial, retrogressive education policy of the Aregbesola-led Osun State government. We condemn the planned rearrangement and merger of primary and secondary schools in the state. This policy, if implemented will seriously affect the already ailing education sector in the state.
This policy of rearrangement of schools, according to the government will be done by merging schools, many of which are kilometers apart. In Osogbo for instance, the government is planning to merge Fakunle Comprehensive High School (arguably the biggest secondary school in the state) with Osogbo Grammar School or Ataoja School of Science. Also St. James Grammar School, Ayetoro, Osogbo is to be merged with Anglican Grammar School, Testing Ground, Osogbo. These are schools located in different locations and areas in Osogbo with several kilometers apart. Also, many primary schools are affected.
What this means is that many students of Fakunle and those who reside around Olaiya junction to Old Governor’s office will be denied access to secondary education unless they relocate to Osogbo Grammar School to access secondary school education. Those who cannot relocate will have to trek a long distance every day or their will have to part with huge sum every day as transportation fees for their children. This story is also replicated throughout the state. In fact, currently, some towns in the state have one or two secondary schools. By Aregbesola government’s design, some of these schools will be closed down while in some cases, some two or more towns will share a school; a situation that can generate communal crisis on its own.
The riotous situation Aregbesola is planning to create in the education sector can be likened to the situation under colonial era where there were Grade II schools in very few towns and students used to travel far before they could have access to education. This will automatically create hardship on students, their parents and including the teachers. This will also make many teachers redundant and make them liable to be victimized by the Government and subsequently retrenched. Already, the government is asking some school principals, whose schools are to be affected to resign! Moreover, most of the Schools the teachers and pupils were relocated to had little or no infrastructures to sustain even their existing pupils/students population. This can only lead to worsening of conditions of learning.
The government is basing this policy on a superficial policy of creating three grades of schools: elementary, middle and high schools. Aside the fact that this arrangement is against national policy on education, which arranges schools on basic school (1-9) and secondary school, the policy is absolute useless and will distrupt the whole education arrangement. For instance, it will lead to undue change and dislocation of curriculum; disrupt continuous assessment of pupils and students; mobility of teachers from various classes; useless stratification of teachers; aside other serious consequences. Already, school resumption has been extended by two weeks, because of the failure to put this policy to practice.
Ridiculously, the Government that is so particular about reforming education in the State has not deemed it fit to renovate hundreds of schools that are in decrepit state across the State. For instance Fakunle High School built some 50 years ago, aside being arguably the largest in terms of student population, has one of the most outstanding facilities in terms of classrooms and landmass, is still in terrible state with dilapidated classrooms, non-functional libraries and laboratories, etc. A reasonable approach would have been to embark on massive development of facilities in these schools and other schools across the state to expand facilities and modernize these schools. On the contrary, the government is planning to turn the school into a shopping mall. How then can a state government that has added nothing new in terms of infrastructures to existing schools, other than the never-ending construction of some few model mega-schools, decides to demolish existing schools and turning the biggest of them into a shopping mall or motor park?
Most schools lack basic facilities like laboratories, libraries, workshops, staff offices, etc. In this kind of condition, it is be at best be ridiculous to start the so-called ‘education reform’ with some bogus school rearrangement. For us, the real reform in education will mean that the real participants in the education sector such as teachers, education workers, labour movement, students, parents, retired teachers and communities will be involved in the planning, execution and supervision of education policies, programmes and projects. Genuine education reform will mean not just rebuilding of a handful of schools, but a complete plan of rebuilding and refurbishing of schools and school infrastructures. It should involve massive recruitment and constant retraining of teachers, adequate remuneration of workers, renovation of existing schools and establishment of new ones, provision of basic and modern facilities in schools such as laboratories, libraries, sport facilities, etc.
While we will welcome any genuine effort at solving or mitigating any problems facing education, no matter how minimal, we are bound to point out the futility of a piece-meal approach based on capitalist logic. By capitalist logic, we mean education policy that is premised on awarding contracts to quench the profit thirst of big time contractors and big business while giving token to the masses, as a way of courting their political favour.
We hereby call on the Labour movement, Nigeria Union of Teachers, genuine student activists and change seeking Nigerians to rise up and fight for a genuine education reform as opposed to the profit motivated reform being implemented by Aregbesola in Osun State. We call on trade unions, especially NUT and NLC and TUC, parent association and student movement in the state to reject this obnoxious policy of merger of schools, and demand free, properly funded, and quality education at all levels in the state. We call for mass protests by students, parents and teachers in the state if the government continues in this ruinous path.