Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Osun school reforms in the eyes of the storm

Following the educational reforms in Osun State, which led to the
reclassification and mergers of schools, introduction of one school
uniform and the alleged introduction of 'Ifa' as a school subject,
concerned educationist have questioned the workability of such
reforms, especially as it has caused an uproar among students,
teachers and parents.
Osun State government had claimed that these reforms are the results
of an earlier organised education summit, chaired by Professor Wole
Soyinka, which recommended that the reclassification of schools and
the other components of the reforms were the best ways to reposition
the educational sector of the state.
According to the state governor, Rauf Aregbesola, stakeholders at the
summit agreed on having three structures of basic education that is
elementary, middle and high rather than the existing primary, junior
and secondary levels, and a comprehensive overhaul of physical and
human component of the education system.
Implementation of the O'School initiative commenced with the
inauguration of the Salvation Army Middle School in Osogbo, the state
capital, by Governor Aregbesola, which is one of the 100 elementary,
middle and 20 high school being built under the initiative.
"The Elementary Level, comprising pupils aged 6 to 9 corresponds with
primary 1 to 4 in the existing system. The Middle Level is from
primary 4 to Junior Secondary School (JSS III) for pupils aged 10 to
14, now classified as Grades 5 to 9. The High School Level covers ages
15 to 17 and corresponds with the Senior Secondary School III (SS
III), known as Grades 10-12", government said.
New uniforms & introduction of Ifa as a subject
The reclassification and merging of schools comes with the burden of
parents buying new school uniforms for their wards as the old uniforms
have been rendered unwearable. To this end, all categories of schools
now have unique school uniforms which differentiates each school.
Though government is bearing the cost of the first set of uniforms to
all the students, but parents would have to bear any additional cost
should their ward(s) uniforms need changing.
Also, the merging of same sex and faith based schools have continued
to generate controversies as some students, old boys associations and
proprietors of these schools have protested the merging. Notable are
the protests by the students of Baptist Girls High School who kicked
against being merged with an islamic school, and Fakunle
Comprehensive High School, founded in 1965, merged with Osogbo
Grammar Schoool, while the junior students were moved to different
Probably considered the biggest controversy is the alleged
introduction of Ifa (which is about the Yoruba divination and belief
about Olodumare (God))as a new school subject. The controversy is
heightened as the Opon Imo (tablet of knowledge) that was recently
given to the students came pre-loaded with learning materials,
textbooks, the Bible, Quran and Ifa.
Scrapping of pre-school
On September 5, Aregbesola announced the cancellation of 'pre-school'
education in all public schools in the state because, according to
him, it was wrong for mothers to dump their babies in the name of
building careers.
What he has failed to realize is that Pre-Schooling such as crèche,
kindergarten and nursery education, are so fundamental to Early
Educational Development because this is when they learn the art of
socializing which is so important to normal development, activate
their gross and motor skills, begin to gain numerical recognition and
also develop other associated skills.
Educationists react
Describing the reforms as another example of the failure of the
policy, the Education Rights Campaign, ECR, has called on the state
government to immediately reverse the counter-productive policy.
"We must quickly point out that as a group involved in education
campaigns over the last 10 years, the ERC is very much aware that to
revamp Nigeria's collapsed and degenerate public education system,
radical, painful and perhaps inconvenient changes and alterations
might be necessary. However this has to be done by democratically
involving people in the debates leading to such decisions.
"This is missing in the Osun State school reclassification policy
which is why the ERC considers the policy as undemocratic. We are
also concerned about the untold hardship this merger will mean for
parents, students and teachers as there would be increase in drop in
school attendance and truancy rate among students due to the placement
of the new schools at long distance from the residence of the students
and transfer of students schooling at schools close to their
neigbourhoods to schools which are very far from their residence."
The ERC tasked the government to rather, concentrate its efforts into
renovating and expanding the existing schools and furnishing them with
libraries and laboratories so as not to reverse the little gains made
in the sector.
Pointing out that it wasn't consulted before the policies were made
public, the Osun State Chapter of the Christian Association of
Nigeria, OSCAN, said it is against any educational programme that will
obliterate the mission schools and affect its tenets of faith.
"OSCAN is not against any new educational policy being put in place by
either the federal or the state governments but we vehemently kick
against any educational programme that will obliterate the mission
schools and affect our tenets of faith particularly in the state.
"We have maintained this stand from inception and we will continue to
defend lawfully what belong to us as Christians in the state. As a
major stakeholder in the state, the leadership of CAN expects the
state government to invite us to discuss this issue and other related
one without delay."
Also, retired Directors of Education, Lagos State Ministry of
Education, Mrs. Awoyinfa and Mrs. Amosu, both called on the state
government to rather renovate the existing schools and get qualified
teachers to improve the standard of education in the state.
"For schools to be functional, the classrooms must be well built, have
qualified teachers that are well trained and paid, quality materials
and conducive environment to boost learning and improve students'
performance", they said.
Government's stand
When contacted, the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, All
Progressive Congress, APC, Barrister Kunle Oyatomi, said the governor
has thought it wise to give the students a better future with these
"When he assumed office, what he met were appalling as the school
buildings were collapsed, low students performance and poor teacher
orientation. He immediately called for a summit and the outcome is
what we are seeing today.
The reclassification is not different from the 6-3-3-4 system of
education. What we have done isn't different from what is obtainable
in developed climes. Government has committed a lot of resources in
toe sector and we are sure to reap the benefits soon."
Describing the alleged introduction of Ifa as a subject as the
handiwork of mischief makers, Oyatomi said one quarter of Osun
indigenes ore traditionalists, thus the Opon Imo came pre-loaded with
the Bible, Quran and Ifa,
"Instead of carrying book about, the tablets come loaded with reading
and learning materials and also has the holy books of the various
religions in it. The Ifa on the tablet is just for information purpose
and doesn't mean those that are not traditionalists must read or
meditate on it.
Despite the believed advantages of the educational reforms, many
questions, such as: when would primary school pupils write the common
entrance examinations? At what stage would students write their junior
WAEC? What happens to NECO, UTME and WAEC exams for the senior
secondary students? These questions, among others, are still begging
to be answered.

No comments:

Post a Comment