If there is an area in which Ogun State prided itself as leader in Nigeria, it is education. Not only that Ogun State indigenes and residents excelled in various educational pursuits in almost six decades of post independent Nigeria, the State led all others in terms of access to education. When Nigeria celebrated her 50th Independence anniversary in 2010, the Federal Government honoured 50 greatest Nigerians of all time. Among those 50 Nigerians, seven (7) were Ogun State indigenes who attained greatness by virtue of the education they had. Chief Obafemi Awolowo who democratised education and made it available to the poor was one of them, just as Professor Wole Soyinka, the first African to win a Nobel Prize was included.
Before now, it was routine that Ogun State was counted among the highest performing States in national examinations such as WASCE and UTME. No thanks to the neglect and commercialization of the education sector by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, Ogun State has slid to be part of the bottom 50 percent in performance in WASCE, for example. In both 2016 and 2017, Ogun State came 19th in ranking among the 36 States in Nigeria. Borno State which has been grappling with the big challenge of insurgency performed better than Ogun State in 2017 WASCE!
For close watchers of the education policy of Governor Amosun in the 7 years that he has mounted the saddle, the consistent decline of education and contraction of access of the poor to it in the State are a matter of course.
FACTS AND FIGURES UNDERLYING THE ROT
Because of the economic recession in the country and resultant widespread poverty among our people, many parents who are forced to transfer their children and wards from private to public secondary schools are prevented from doing so because Ogun State government increased the transfer fee for each pupil by a whooping 700 percent from N2,500 to N20,000. It is the same percentage increase from N2,500 to N20,000 for those parents, who for one reason or another, seek to transfer their children from another State to any public school in Ogun State. Even to transfer a secondary school pupil to another secondary school within the State will set a parent back N10,000 from the former fee of N2,500, a 300 percent hike. To make a transfer for a primary school pupil in any of the three categories of transfer, parents have to cough out N5,000 for the services that were free of charge before Amosun took over Ogun State.
In addition to the above, to obtain First (Primary) School Leaving Certificate, pupils in public schools now must pay N1,000 (it was free of charge), while those in private schools must pay N2,000 to the State Government instead of N500 previously paid. For students in private schools to sit for JSS examinations, they each have to pay N5,000 to the government, up from N2,500.
Now, Ogun State government has announced that henceforth, it’ll no longer assist parents in the payment of WAEC fee. This fee, which successive Ogun State governments had paid for almost 20 years, is currently N13,000, excluding administrative charges of about N2,000 by the different schools. From available data, the number of students in public schools in Ogun State for which the government paid never exceeded 40,000 in any given year. At N13,000 per student, this amounts to N520 million maximum per annum. A government that claimed to have expanded one kilometer of road for N1.98 billion has found it burdensome to sustain payment of WAEC fees for children of the poor who are in public schools mainly because of their poverty. The amount claimed to have been spent on just one kilometer of expanded road is enough to pay for WAEC for Ogun State indigent students for 4 years, and it is just 8.67 percent of the N6 billion collected monthly as IGR in the state. I’m told that the government is justifying its stoppage of the WAEC fee support on the ground of the specious argument that Ogun State students performed poorly in WASCE because they didn’t pay for it. The sterling performance of Abia, Rivers, Edo, Imo and Bayelsa states which came first to fifth respectively in the 2016 WASCE, but which incidentally all pay for their students, empirically refutes this lie of the Amosun government.
Despite all the fees and levies forced out of pupils and students in both private and public schools, the state of facilities in public schools in the state remains pathetic and an eyesore.
Perhaps the worst of all these is the 18 months of Deductions owed teachers in the State’s public schools. Deduction is the fraction of a worker’s salary signed off to be deducted directly from their salary and allowances and paid as saving to a Cooperative Society owned and operated by the workers. It is, in some cases, up to 70 percent of the gross earnings of the worker concerned. Ogun State government makes this deduction monthly without remitting same to the cooperative societies. This criminal diversion of teachers’ entitlement not only deprives them of their hard earned income but demoralises them in the onerous duty of teaching our children knowledge and character. It is the main reason why the performance of our children in public schools continues to nosedive.
More neglected in the education sector of Ogun State are the tertiary institutions. The statutory subventions to all the institutions (Olabisi Onabanjo University, Tai Solarin University of Education, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Tai Solarin College of Education, the four ICT Polytechnics, and the College of Health Technology) have either been drastically reduced or stopped outright. In TASCE for instance, the government is owing staff 18 months salaries. And since September 2016, TASCE staff have been receiving half salary.
In OOU, TASUED and MAPOLY, the institutions are able to pay their workers mainly from fees they charge students. Besides the annual grants they get from Education Tax Fund (ETF), in Abuja, these institutions get nothing from their owner government for academic support (learned conferences, linkages, infrastructure, etc). The level of demoralisation among staff members of those institutions is all so palpable.
Concerning students of tertiary institutions in Ogun State, in the past several years, they have not been paid bursary, neither do they have any scholarship support or students loan facilities from the government.
Now, all these assaults on education by the Amosun government are taking place when it has become firmly established that the substantial wealth of nations comes (contrary to Adam Smith) no more from natural resources (crude oil, solid minerals, etc) but from quality human capital. The preponderance of the wealthiest in the world currently are technology entrepreneurs and executives, all of who are products of quality education facilitated and supported by the modern State.
The commercialisation of education, and consequently, restriction of access to it, in Ogun State is particularly unfortunate because it is happening when Nigerians everywhere in the country are reported to be getting poorer by the day. According to the latest World Bank study on poverty prevalence, a whooping 83 million Nigerians live on less than $1.9 per day, which is highest number of the absolutely poor in the whole world.
We will revamp all the State-owned tertiary institutions and ensure that they are not run as glorified secondary schools through the regular release of subventions and other support funds in addition to improved governing structures and attention.
• We will see to it that more privately-owned tertiary institutions are attracted to the State, while strengthening the ones already on ground.
• We will ensure that all primary and secondary schools in Ogun State qualify as model schools and ensure prompt payment of salaries, leave bonuses and allowances to teachers.
• We will invest in training in ICT and other modern teaching techniques. We will gradually introduce electronic teaching boards and other teaching aids into primary and secondary schools in the State.
– education for skills development as part of total human development
- ICT-based and ICT-driven learning in all facets of education in the State
e-library for all public schools
- making education available to all children in the State
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
As we all know, Governor Amosun is determined to foist another of his kind on Ogun State as his successor. Parents, teachers at the different educational levels, and students of voting age must resist this sinister move by Amosun.
Those who are directly the victims of this government’s assault on education must also not make the mistake of allowing the warlords and money bags in other parties who are throwing money around with the supposition that they could buy our people to get to power to do even worse than Amosun is currently doing.
I therefore call on all people of goodwill in Ogun State to come with me as we embark on this RESCUE MISSION to take back our State from the cabal of corrupt, visionless and incompetent politicians.
Ogun State must rise again! Omo Ogun Ise ya!!
• For details of alternatives to the current misgovernance, kindly view my Manifesto and that of SDP on: www.sinakawonise.com.ng
‘Sina Kawonise (SK),
Social Democratic Party,
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