GCI IBADAN: The Planned Handover to Wale Babalakin-led Old Boys Association is a Privatisation of Public School
NLC, TUC and NUT Must Join Parents and Host community in the Agitation Against the Private Takeover of GCI and Other Public Schools
Since April 2022, parents of students currently schooling at Government College Ibadan, GCI, members of the host community and civil society organizations under the auspices of Joint Action Front, JAF with members of Democratic Socialist Movement DSM, Oyo state chapter have been playing a leading role in organising one form of agitations or the other to protest the plan by Seyi Makinde-led government in the state to cede the ownership of GCI to Mr Wale Babalakin-led old Boys Association. DSM condemns this move, insists that such a plan is anti-poor and demands that the idea must be dropped immediately.
By Yusuf Salaudeen, DSM Ibadan Branch
We reiterate that the plan is nothing but a pretence to cede the ownership, management and control of the school to private individuals. This kind of plan must not be allowed to succeed otherwise it will become a dress rehearsal for the resuscitation of the anti-people, privatisation policy of public secondary school which was attempted but defeated during the regime of late Governor Abiola Ajimobi-led administration.
Again, the planned handover is nothing but an abdication of responsibility by the Seyi Makinde-led government. Adequate and proper funding of public education is one of the central duties and responsibilities of the government. Therefore, the attempt to transfer such responsibility to any group of individuals under any disguise must be rejected and resisted as it is capable of taking public education out of the reach of the children from poor home.
Even when the MOU upon which the handing over of school is yet to be backed by law, one hundred and seventy (170) prospective students which comprise 100 students from GCI Junior school 1 and 70 from GCI Junior school 2 were already denied opportunity to attend GCI. This is despite their impressive performance in the placement test and despite being issued placement letters duly signed by the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology.
This development is as a result of the unilateral and high-handed directive of the Wale Babalakin-led GCI Old Boys Association that the number of students to be admitted into GCI Junior school 1 and 2 must be limited to 180 and 210. This is against the prescribed capacity of 280 student population each for schools 1 and 2, which should have totalled 560.
The DSM decries this elitist action and most importantly considers it as illegal and anti-poor. The implication of the directive is that all the claims of the Wale Babalakin-led led Old Boys Association of its investment of over N2billion in the school is a mere deceit and grandstanding. As far as we are concerned there is no basis for a school that claimed to have enjoyed over N2billion investment in the last few years not to be able to have enough facilities and infrastructure to admit students up to its prescribed capacity.
The DSM totally condemns the so-called directive by the Wale Babalakin-led GCI Old Boys Association that has caused psychological imbalance in the lives of the affected children and their poor parents. It is a clear demonstration of the sinister motive deceptively and brazenly branded to be in the overall interest of the general public.
As far as we are concerned, this is just a glimpse of what is in the offing if Wale Babalakin-led GCI Old Boys Association in connivance with Seyi Makinde – led government is allowed in their attempt to take over GCI. As we speak, the so-called MOU guiding the so-called partnership has continued to be kept away from the public knowledge. The DSM condemns this, and demands immediate release of the MOU into the public domain.
We equally commend the GCI host community, public-spirited individuals and PTA for their continuous agitations against the takeover of GCI and insistence that the school should continue to be owned by the public and run solely for public interest. We urge that their voices should become louder especially with the ongoing clandestine move and desperation by Wale Babalakin-led GCI Old Boys Association to reportedly induce members of the Oyo State House of Assembly to pass the MOU into law!
We urge the Oyo State House of Assembly to resist any clandestine move to use its members against the overall interest of the public which they are expected to represent.
Therefore, we call on students, parents, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), state leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress, (TUC) and civil society organizations to reject and resist this move and any plan to privatise public schools in Oyo state. We call for a series of peaceful mass activities to prevail on the Seyi Makinde-led government to drop the plan of handing over of GCI to private individuals and rather prioritize a proper and adequate funding of public education across the state.