We of the ERC in strong terms condemn the illegal detainment of under- age children by Ajimobi led APC government. We therefore call for a Public Panel of Enquiry into the incidence at Isale-Oyo Community high School. NLC, TUC and Oyo State NUT must declare a 48hours mass actions across Oyo state in demand of the immediate and unconditional release of the arrested students and for immediate reversal of the satanic promotion criteria of the Oyo state Ministry of Education.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Oyo state chapter, calls for the unconditional release of secondary school students arrested and currently being paraded before a state magistrate court by the Ajimobi led APC government on account of the violence reaction against the rigid promotion criteria of the Oyo state Ministry of Education for SSI and SS2 in the state. It would be recalled that the state government through his stooge- the Ministry of Education- gave an unwarranted promotion criteria for secondary school students promoting to SSI and SS2 in the state and as such deny mass of students graduation into the next class. It was observed that Secondary school students across the state reacted in anger against this rigid promotion criteria that denied them to promote to the next class. Some of them protested against their teachers and some took their protest to the streets.
However, part of these pockets of students protest against the rigid promotion criteria was the setting of a classroom ablaze by students of Isale Oyo Community High School. The subsequent arrest and detainment of these students who are not up to 18years of age is condemnable as it is capable of creating monsters out of these children of secondary schools. Instead of the illegal detainment of these children we call for a public probe into the incidence that occurred at Isale-Oyo Community High School. If the Ajimobi government is allowed to continuously detain and arraign these children in court, they may eventually become hardened criminals and monsters who will constitute more social vices in the society than before. In fact, the Ajimobi government will use the artificial crises created by his government in the Oyo state public education sector to rubber-stamp his unpopular bid to sell off public secondary schools in the state. Importantly, the right to personal dignity of these under-aged children as enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Nigerian constitution (as amended) has been abused by the Ajimobi government. The ERC therefore feel strongly that the setting of classrooms on fire at Isale-Oyo Community High School is not merely a demonstration of a few disgruntled students and criminals. Rather, it is a product of students’ pent-up rage and frustration as a result of the various anti-student and capitalist policies of poor funding of education and systemic privatization of public secondary schools in Oyo state.
To be cleared, the ERC is not averse to any disciplinary measure against students that are allegedly involved in the dastard act of setting classrooms ablaze. However, it is our concern that such disciplinary measure which we agree is necessary to serve as a deterrent to others must have as its focus first and foremost the need to correct and rehabilitates some of these students in order to save guard the future of the state.
Unfortunately, considering the sorry state of police detentions and prisons across the country today, we are left with no option than to be worried that the arrest of these students whose ages are between 12 and 15 years old and their subsequent arraignment in court which has resulted into continuous detention of some of them at police custody could lead to the creation of more monsters and beasts in these students. Should this happens, will automatically mean a defeat of the corrective and rehabilitative purpose which should be the central motive for carrying out any disciplinary measure against any students that are culprit of these dastard acts.
Given the huge prospect for future negative implications and consequences inherent in the arrest and continuous detention of these students, ERC is quick to call on the senator Ajimobi/APC-led government in the state to consider the option to review its stance over their prosecution and order for the immediate and unconditional release of some of the detained secondary school students with a view to set-up a democratic panel of inquiry that will have as members representatives of trade unions ( NLC, TUC , NUT, ASUU, ASUP, NASU, SSANU etc); Association like PTA, NBA, pro-working people civil society organisations as well as government functionaries should be included.
The task of this panel will be first and foremost to investigate the original cause and perpetrators of the dastard act. This will be with a view to arrive at a consensus as to the kind of disciplinary measure that will be appropriate enough to end the growing indiscipline, criminal tendencies and widespread abuse of drug among secondary school students in the state.
More importantly is the need for the state government to review its rigid stance on the newly formulated promotion policy which obviously failed to take cognizance of the poor state of public education as a result of gross underfunding and the circumstance under which the examination itself was written. As a matter of fact, we of ERC believe that, it is unfair and immoral for Senator Ajimobi-led government in the state to continue to insist on a new promotion policy which stipulate among other things that only students who score 50% in five major subjects including English or Mathematics will transit to the next class when the same Senator Ajimobi-led government like its predecessors has performed poorly in term of adequate funding of education which is the root cause of most of the crisis bedeviling education sector in the state.
It is on this basis we call on the state government to be mindful of its rigid stance on the so-called promotion policy and immediately release all secondary school children in police custody. Should the Oyo State Government continue to insist on unleashing his neo-liberal attacks on the public education sector in the state, we of the ERC will be left with no other option than to declare a state of emergency in the Oyo state public education sector.
Except this new promotion policy is reversed, the ugly development in schools like Isale-Oyo community high school and Anglican secondary schools where classroom were set ablaze by aggrieved pupils is an indication that the new policy is capable of triggering a worse phase of social tension and unrest that is currently growing among secondary school students in the state. Again, ERC believes that no amount of military intervention and draconian measures by the Ajimobi government can curb this growing mass anger among students. At the same time, we call on the workers unions (NUT, ANCORPS) and associations like PTA in education sector to immediately convene and organize a conference of teachers, principals, parents, pupils, pro-education civil society organizations and other stakeholders in the education sector in the state to review the general situation in the public education including the controversies surrounding the new promotion policy. This is with a view to arrive at recommendations that are capable of improving the standard of public education in the state. This kind of a conference of stakeholders in education sector should be anchored on meeting the following objectives:
- Proper funding of education to a minimum of 26% annul budgetary allocation as stated by the UNESCO reconmmendation.
- Immediate payment of all outstanding salary arrears own to teachers in both primary and secondary schools in the state.
- Immediate reversal of the new promotion policy. It is only a qualitative and well-funded public education can make the best students schooling in Oyo state public schools.
- The Ajimobi government and his counterpart in Osun state must immediately resolve the crises in Ladoke Akintola University of Technology and re-open the university for immediate academic activities.
- All arrested and detained secondary school students must immediately and unconditionally be released.
The Ajimobi government must consider the need to constitute a Public Panel of Enquiry that is to include NLC, TUC , NUT, ASUU, ASUP, NASU, SSANU,ANCORPS etc and ssociation like PTA, NBA, pro-working people civil society organisations as well as government functionaries.
- Capital NO to selling off of public secondary schools in the state. The APC led government of Senator Ajimobi must be committed to proper funding of the education sector.
- For a public and democratic management of public funds and resources allocated for the management of public schools under the public control of democratically elected representatives of NLC, TUC , NUT, ASUU, ASUP, NASU, SSANU,ANCORPS and the PTA.
Oyo state Coordinator