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Socialist Democracy July 2004


OYO STATE: Ladoja, Stop Privatisation of Public Schools

By Ojo Olajire


The decision of Nigeria Union of Teachers, Oyo State Chapter, to condemn the return of public schools to missionary and private merchants, and equally demand an end to this anti-poor policy of the government is commendable and should be supported.

It is this anti-poor policy that the masses are being confronted with in various states, especially Lagos and Edo State. In year 2001 the Lagos State government launched one of its series of attacks on education with 48 public schools handed over to profit merchants masquerading as missionaries and private proprietors. 38 public schools in Edo State are already pencilled for sale, which will deny tens of thousands of children of the poor working people access to education.

It should be stressed that these schools have been, for years, expanded and maintained with public funds and the sweat of the working people whose children are now dropping out of school because of the high charges of private owners. This is because the major interest of the missionary and private merchants is profit, which could only be achieved by charging various outrageous fees on education beyond the reach of the poor parents.

This policy will in the long run lead to more drop outs, retrenchment of teaching and non-teaching staff, unemployment, underemployment, etc. The army of the hungry unemployed would in turn be breeding grounds for robbery and prostitution.

The right of workers, teaching and non-teaching staff is also at stake. The right to belong to trade unions to collectively fight for the interests of workers, improve in welfare and living condition of the working people is also threatened.

Lack of funds to maintain the existing facilities, pay wages of teaching and non-teaching staff, etc has been the argument of government, both at Federal and State levels, against free and qualitative education. The same governments do embark on organizing needless activities, awarding over-bloated contracts worth millions of naira to their cronies, get huge salaries, much more higher than wages of average working people, and estacodes, serving IMF/World Bank fictitious debt, etc. but shirk there responsibilities of providing free, affordable and good standard education, healthcare, electricity, food, housing to the poor masses.

It is true that facilities are decayed and teaching and non-teaching staffs are not well paid, but the return of public schools to private merchants is not the solution. As we have said "this deplorable phenomenon is the by-product of the years of neglect, underfunding and mismanagement of the education sector by successive civilian and military capitalist governments. If schools are in state of decay, it is not because the public lacks sufficient means to keep them in good, functioning order. Rather, it is because of the selfish interests and misplaced priorities of the capitalist misrules. The solution to these dreadful conditions lie in looking for necessary resources to revamp the education sector, combined with democratic control and management of the system by teachers, parents, students and the community." (SD September and October 2001 edition).

The teachers and their unions should therefore see this battle not only as theirs alone but a collective battle of all poor working people and oppressed to save education from the hands of missionary and private merchants. This could only be achieved by mobilizing other trade unions, NLC, students, parents, progressive political parties and organisation like NCP, Labour Party, DSM etc to have programmes of action against the ruling cabal which could also be used to build a process of wrestling power from the ruling capitalist government and put in place democratic independent working peoples government.


Our demands:


  • No to transfer of public schools to missions and private merchant

  • Adequate remuneration of teaching and non-teaching staff

  • No to privatisation and commercialisation of education

  • Massive funding of the education sector with the employment of more teachers and provision of more classrooms, laboratories, libraries, books, workshops and hostels

  • Free and qualitative education at all levels

  • No to retrenchment of teaching and non-teaching staff

  • The right of teachers in both public and private schools to unionise

  • Democratic management of schools with decision-making organs comprising elected representatives of teaching and non-teaching staff, students, parents, and the community.



Socialist Democracy July 2004