Parents and residents at the location of one of the Models schools have expressed worries over the unbecoming behavior of students of the school, who daily patronize cybercafes within the vicinity of the school, during school hours, in preference to the academic comfort of their school. This is a reflection of the incompetence of the school management and Teachers to impart the right values on the students. Even as mushroom private schools continue to spring up in room and parlor and three Bedroom apartments at different locations in t Oyo state, parents also expressing worries over the announcement by the state Government that beginning from next session, one(1) per cent levy shall be imposed on the fees collected by both Public and Private schools in the state, they insist that this amounts to double taxation. In this interview with Federationews2day, the Founder and Spiritual Head of Shafaudeen worldwide, Prof. Sabitu Olagoke advises the state Government to approach the levy with caution. Excerpts :
The Oyo state Government has announced its intention to collect 1 per cent from all the fees collected by both public and private secondary schools in the state, what is your reaction to this announcement ?
My opinion is that the Government of Oyo state is ready to re fix to a rightful position the education status, most especially in Oyo state. Government itself realizes that there are problems in the educational structure and practices The problem manifest in the state of things in public schools, most of them have dilapidated buildings, some do not have furniture. Public schools have the best Teachers, but there are no facilities to work with. Unfortunately, those in Government and the elites do not patronize the public schools. When Chief Obafemi Awolowo started his education programme, , he ensured that all his children attended these schools, and through each of them he was able to feel the pulse of the public schools, as regards the state of things in these schools. Unfortunately, Government, presently, has all the structure and mechanism through which education facilitation can be effective and result oriented, but corruption and indiscipline have permeated the fabric of every unit of the system, so that even before a file is moved, you must grease the palm of the clerk, before anybody is promoted you must have greased the palms of the powers that be along the line When it comes to pension some people insist on getting 10 per cent out of your gratuity, before your file will see the light of the day. So, when you have this kind of erratic system, the goal of education is already defeated. So, that is the situation of things in the education sector in Nigeria, Oyo state in particular.
The lapses on the side of Government has made every Tom, Dick and Harry to venture into education, but with the perspective of becoming an entrepreneur, whereby you commercialize everything. When I was in secondary school, my prorietor of blessed memory, Mr. T.A Ogunkoya, had B.A History form Newcastle in 1950, he single handedly left Isonyin, for Abanla, bought acres of land and built all the structure in the school and unfortunately in 1976, Government took it over and bastardized the very good work the man had done. The place is now a caricature of its old self. This is to say that Government has not been able to understand what it takes to follow Chie Awolowo’s legacy. Now a lot of people have ventured into education without knowing anything about it. You see a lot of private schools in dilapidated buildings and these people are capitalizing on the fact that most of our people are illiterates, most of the parents. They only repackage these children with good clothing, so that the parents will believe that their children are attending good schools, whereas most of these schools are mushroom. And now that Government is restructuring, all these things are more of theories, because since they have started, we have not felt the impact. Not all the private schools are registered with the state Government. And indeed, Government officials pass by all these schools, but because of their relationships with the owners, nothing is done. These are the areas that we are having problems. So, the first thing Government ought to do, is to go through all the nooks and crannies of Oyo state in the Morning, Afternoon, Night and during the weekend, to identify all these schools, good or bad. After assessment those found wanting should be shut. So in the area of Government collecting one per cent of fees collected by public and private schools in the state, those that are registered and Government still says that whatever you are getting from the intakes, one per cent should go into the coffers of Government, then this is unfortunate, Government is supposed to encourage private individuals, who float private schools, so long as their intentions are genuine and once they have the right concept on ground, not vice versa.
However,Government must have looked into another perspective, Government must have the belief that all privately owned schools are for commercial purposes and once you are running schools for commercial purposes, the goal of education has already been defeated, because you won’t be able to deliver. You will be more into what you will realize in terms of gains or profits. Education and schools are not supposed to be commercial ventures. UNICEF says education is a right. Chief Awolowo promoted free education, now that the various tiers of Government in Nigeria have failed in giving us free education and corruption has now permeated the whole system, the major problem we are now having is what is to be done. Government should be very cautious. Although some schools were founded on the premise that their founders have been able to corruptly enrich themselves and now using the money for education, if that is the perspective of Government to collect one per cent , it is okay, they want them to at least pay back, but some of us have genuine intentions. They should firstly go into how much we collect as school fees, then some of us may even be assisted by Government, but for those of us who they might be suspecting have corruptly enriched themselves, the one per cent can apply. But if it should be generalized, there is nothing we can do, but to seek to know what Government has been doing from all the money collected. So, the people are suspicious of Government’s intentions and they think it is another way of selfishly enriching the purse of some Government functionaries. So, they must not allow the society to think that there is a bad motive behind the intention of Government to collect one per cent from the fees of public and privates schools. Government should be able to justify what they are going to do with the money, so, they must have a rethink.