Akobi Ogun village is one of the villages located in Isokan Local Government council area, State of Osun, Nigeria, as at 1985, one thing stood the village of just only 22 huts out among other villages close to it like Alagutan, Mokuajo, Danbiaran, Oranran, and others; that thing was the elementary school with fine structure, good sporting facilities, and beautiful environment.
Danbiaran was almost three kilometers to the school, Oranran was almost five kilometers, only Aba Paanu, where I grew up with my maternal grand parents was close with almost half a kilometer. Yet pupils from those villages attended the school, and you simply cannot resist the beauty as a child. I knew it, because I have a brother that attended it.
In 1978, I was taken to Salvation Army primary school, Osogbo by my mother, and I was admitted reluctantly, because I was short, and by early 80s, I had relocated to Ikoyi Osun, where I attended Ansar u Deen primary situated in Ile Olukotun.
After the death of my father, I relocated to Ilobu, situated in Irepodun Local government, Osun, where I attended Ilobu grammar school, and fate brought me back to Osogbo again, after three years, that compelled me to complete my secondary education at St. Charles Gramnar school, Osogbo.
I laid my background out to justify that I truly attended public schools, and all through my education life, it was public schools, I could recollect how we did prepare for any given examination, but today I have two daughters of elementary school age, but I have to pay through my nose to send them to private schools, because no one was paying attention to public schools, and those schools were worse off to the extent that only the poverty stricken and u fortunate people could endeavor to send their wards to them. Sometimes, if I fail to pay by first week of a given term, a threat letter would be sent to me, that my daughters would be shown the exit doors if I fail to make it the following week.
Honestly, I have had causes to ask myself questions on what had gone wrong with public schools? Why is it that the teachers of public schools are sending their wards to private schools? Despite the fact that we know clearly that an average teacher of public school must be holder of at least College of Education certificate, while almost all the private schools hire failed out secondary school leavers to teach our pupils. Because where standard is obtained, no poor person can afford it. Imagine, paying N250,000 per pupil per term. That is beyond the reach of a poor man, for God sake.
As a matter of fact I picked an axe against any government that toys with education, because that is the future, and the noise that normally greets new idea is what every politician who ought to have made a difference has been running away from, because our politicians love their popularity for electoral purpose more than the future our our children. So, when Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun took the mantle of leadership, and expressed his readiness to make a difference in the most important sector called education, I chose to watch it.
By the time Professor Wole Soyinka led education summit deliberated and recommended the way out of mass failure that had plagued Osun schools, poor infrastructural facilities, paucity of fund, and inadequate human resources were figured out as challenges militating against the public schools. Then, I thought silently that the challenges were insurmountable, because they were capital intensive, and where would Osun pull the resources needed? I began to watch it.
For the first time, the state is lucky to have a governor who has the political will to surmount the troubles, he rolled out his strategies copied from the deliberations of the summit. He began with massive budgeting for education; he began to clean off dilapidated structures for new ones with aesthetic standard, he began to manage a child with N400 per head, instead of N200 earmarked for a school maintenance before, he recruited teachers in droves, he introduced calisthenic that will teach mental and moral value; he gave them free school uniforms that give all children sense of belonging and equality in line with the identity of the state.
Now, some of the schools under construction are ready for use, schools are now beautiful, instruction materials are now being provided, and the reclassification of pupils was to follow, then tongues began to wag, not because it is controversial, but because the new idea is strange.
For instance, elementary pupils will be exposed to the same opportunities, instruction, and treatment, because they belong to the same age bracket, that shows, schools of the same grades would no longer have challenges of paucity of teachers, overcrowding, and juvenile violence. Besides, facilities would be rationally used, because the barrier of class segregation within the same school premises has been eliminated.
Elementary schools’ pupils of formerly primary one to four are fed by government, middle school pupils of primary five to JSS 3 are prepared for their early adolescent age, and are exposed to the same teachings with equal opportunity, while students of high schools are prepared for higher examination to institutions of higher learning, that is why they are exposed to innovative, one in the country computer device christened ‘opon imo’ that will make them to withstand any matter arising from e-learning, e-examination or what have you.
Now, there are questions of why mixing girl schools with boys? The answer is, do we have single sex university or polytechnic? Besides, is it not the segregation of schools in the north that enhances homosexualism, because it is on record that northern Nigeria records the highest rate of homosexuality.
Another question is mixing Christian schools with Muslim pupils?
The answer is very simple. 37 years ago, all missionaries schools of all faith had been taken over by the government, and I am cock sure they could not have released their schools for free. Though they still retain their names as a mark of Honour for their effort, but government have been running the schools since. Let’s face it, when was the last time the so called missionaries took the bill of teachers or running of the schools? So, for them now to stand against the new development leaves sour taste in the mouth.
Yes, as stakeholders, they have the privilege of speaking up on any given issue, but to constitute a barrier to new path to revamping education is insultive. It could have been better if those missionaries had upgraded their ‘schools’ before now, and how many of the clerics and cynics who are standing against the reclassification have their children in public schools? Why are we living as hypocrites? When are we going to develop? Why must we kill the enthusiasm of a man who is determined to get it right? When was the last time any government in the state ever showed interest in the future of our children?
I watched Channels television news analysis, and one man who claims to be Osogbo central mosque cleric, but who we all knew to be erstwhile PDP caretaker chairman of Olorunda Local government said that the government has introduced ifa teaching in all schools, submitting that the thinking of the government was to have ifa priest in each home across the state, when the truth is that philosophy of Yoruba traditional religion was the only page in opon imo, along with Quran and Bible.
Yes, constructive criticism is a welcome development in a democratic arrangement, but for the vulnerable public to join the cynicism of jobless politicians who had a chance to make difference, but chose to ignore the needful is disheartening.
Do you know that Salvation Army school was at worst case scenario of its structure, before Aregbesola began his revolution, and many schools like that. Today, National Bureau of Statistics has it that Osun has the highest enrollment of pupils, and lowest unemployment rate of just three percent. Yet, Central bank, Debt management office, and Federal Fiscal Responsibility Commission have not mentioned Osun as one of the indebted states. Yeah, Ogbeni Aregbesola might have his human errors, but I salute the courage of the man on the threshold of history.
Source: Osun Defender