Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Saturday, lamented that some corrupt officials were devising several means to frustrate the state’s free education programme, vowing however to ensure that the evil antics die as they come.
Governor Makinde stated this while speaking at the grand finale of events marking 90th anniversary of Government College Ibadan (GCI).
Recall that part of the free education policies taken so far by the governor are the scrapping of N3000 education levy, scrapping of fees for secondary school entry forms and the provision of textbooks and exercise books to be distributed free to public school pupils.
Officials refuse to distribute free books
A statement by the chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the Makinde as saying that he had sent out fact-finding emissaries to some schools in the state, which discovered that the free textbooks provided by the state were not being distributed to students in some schools, noting that he had already given a directive that the books must reach every student.
His words: “I have heard some reports, even from this school, that the notebooks and textbooks we sent out were not distributed. I asked them the reason why they were keeping the materials almost mid-way into the first term but they gave excuse of not being able to get the logistics to move those materials from Local Inspectors of Education to the school. And I said to them that I approved money for those materials around the first week of September.
“But there was good news after that encounter. They started the distribution immediately and I think if some of the students are here, they can confirm they have those instructional materials now. So, we need things like that to happen in all the schools in Oyo State.
Antics against scrapping of N3000 levy
Makinde spoke further: “It is a big challenge and I have to come out to say this. When we came in, we scrapped the N3,000 education levy but we have been challenged by those corrupt elements within the education sector. I have heard cases where I was told certain schools were burgled because we scrapped N3,000 but did not provide grants to schools. They said they could not employ guards to secure the school environment. If I look at that school and also look at GCI, where do you think I will put further investment?
“I have also heard about situations where they came back to us and said some certain schools had only five instead of 25 teachers out of which 20 were PTA teachers. They also said they could not pay the PTA teachers because the government stopped them from collecting N3,000 education levy. They never declared to anybody that the levy was the same as PTA levy. So, I said to the Permanent Secretary that we will give grants to schools but there must be accountability.”
Tackling the challenges, recruitment more teachers
Makinde, stressing that his government is intent on restoring the lost glory of education in Oyo state, disclosed that the state would soon advertise for the recruitment of teachers.
His words: “Actually, this brings it down to where we are in the area of education in Oyo State. During my electioneering campaign, I promised the good people of Oyo State free and qualitative education but I knew that the government cannot do it alone. I am happy with the latest developments in GCI and want to promise that the government of Oyo State will partner with you.
“We will soon advertise vacancy to recruit teachers. If the PTA teachers are good enough and have the prerequisite qualifications, they will be employed. But the bottom-line is that the future of our children is at stake here. If we are saying that government is providing certain things and we cannot have value for those things, then it is a big problem and that is what we are faced with right now.
Governor appeals for cooperation
The governor expressed his readiness to collaborate with stakeholders in the education sector to deliver qualitative education, noting that everyone has to come to the table on the policies put in place by the state government, because the government and the governor could not do it alone.
His words: “I care about this mandate the people of Oyo State have given to me and I care about the promises I made to the people during my electioneering campaign. So, the challenge is out there and I want to ask that the good people within our midst have to come to the table for the educational policies we are putting in place to succeed.
“If you don’t come to the table, God forbid, Seyi Makinde alone can’t do it. Government alone cannot do it. We need people that can tell us what is going on.
“I am saying boldly here that education is one of the pillars on which this administration is resting on. It is only when we give knowledge to our people; that is when they can take themselves out of poverty”.
Promises to make GCI poster school of Nigeria
Governor Makinde, commending the investments the Government College Ibadan Old Boys Association (GCIOBA) was making in the school, promised to partner with them to make it the poster school of Nigeria.
He commended the Old Boys for contributions especially the renovation of the old hostels of the school, among others.
“What will make the difference for us are not those giant steps but the little ones we take. So, I will partner with the GCIOBA to achieve that objective. I will encourage this school. I am with you all the way and we will together bring back the lost glory in our education sector in Oyo State,” the governor said.
Also speaking at the occasion, Chairman of GCIOBA, Dr. Wale Babalakin said that the Old Boys Association of GCI have committed over N500 million to the development of the school.
He said that the association would partner with the state government to return boarding system to the school. According to him, the idea of a GCI as a day school without boarding system was an antithesis.
In attendance at the event were the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who is an old student of the school; the president of the Government College Ibadan Old Boys Association (GCIOBA), Dr. Wale Babalakin, SAN; Chief Lekan Are; former Governor Omololu Olunloyo; the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Bisi Ilaka, who is also an old student and other government functionaries.