*Gross underfunding and insensitivity of the government to the welfare condition of education workers are to be blamed for the mass failure in the unified promotion examination in the state
*We demand immediate Payment of all arrears of salary and allowance education workers in the state are being owed.
* Ajimobi-led Government must also comply with the UNESCO recommendation that 26% of annual budgetary allocation must be voted for education
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) Oyo State Chapter blames gross underfunding of public education and insensitivity to welfare condition of education workers by successive government in the State for the mass failure recorded by hundreds of public secondary school students in the state who took part in the last unified promotion examination conducted by the state ministry of education. At the same time, the ERC warns and cautions the APC-led government in the state to be mindful of its rigid stance over its new promotion policy which stipulates among other things that only students who score 50% in five major subjects including English and Mathematics will transit to the next class.
To be clear, the ERC supports and promotes academic excellence. However, it is our believe that academic excellence is a function of not just the individual abilities of students but also a reflection of the sum-total of the conditions of public education, learning environment, funding, teaching infrastructures and teachers’ welfare. We therefore demand a reversal of the new promotion policy and an immediate review of the unified promotion examinations.
At the same time ERC maintains that the huge scale of the mass failure reportedly recorded in the unified examination, could not have been otherwise given the prevailing sorry state of public education in the state and the unfriendly circumstance under which students were compelled to write the so-called unified examination. It is our contention that the prevailing circumstance under which students wrote the so-called unified examination was not favorable for any positive academic performance. Take for instance, the academic work that was to be undertaken for 10 weeks out of the 13 weeks the third term was expected to last was actually compressed and forced on students within a limited period of 3 weeks. This is as a result of the decision of the Senator Ajimobi-led government to unilaterally close down all the public schools in the state for 7 weeks without seeking the consent of either the teachers or parents.
Learning under this circumstance will not only be difficult but somehow be impossible given the fact that most public secondary schools in the state lack of adequate facilities for proper teaching and learning. classes are often overcrowded with a teacher responsible for a minimum of six classes across various levels. Proper student monitoring through assignment, tests, and other forms of continuous assessment under this kind of situation can rarely take place. This is as a result of the volume of scripts teachers have to contend with. Compounding the this gory tale is the fact that workers in the education sector, particularly teachers, are being owed over 6months arrears of salaries and allowances by the Ajimobi-led government in the state.
In as much we of the ERC oppose the idea of automatic promotion; it is also our opinion that it is only where all these situations and circumstances are taken into cognizance, that the newly formulated promotion policy can be regarded as anything close to a valid and fair assessment of the performance of Oyo state public secondary students. This is very important especially in a situation whereby the administered questions in the unified examination were set by officers in the ministries of education instead of respective subject teachers across the schools who would have been more mindful of areas in the syllabus they were unable to cover while preparing the questions to be administered in the examination.
Therefore, any promotion policy that fails to put into consideration certain factors like poor state of public education in the state, poor welfare condition under which education workers groan and circumstance under which students wrote the examination is liable to be bias and a rigid stance on its implementation may force parents, students and the general public to conclude that it`s a deliberate ploy by the state government to witch-hunt the students particularly for the mass protest they organized on the 6th of June, 2016 against the plan by the state government to sell off some public secondary schools in the state under a false, anti-people and neo-liberal policy of Public Private partnership (PPP).
It is on this basis we call on the state government to be mindful of its rigid stance on the so-called promotion policy which the prevailing development across secondary schools in the state has clearly shown to have failed to take cognizance of the poor state of public education in the state and the circumstance under which the examination itself was written. Should the Oyo State Government continue to insist on the new promotion policy in spite of its above-stated deficiency and inadequacies, we of the ERC will be left with no other option than to conclude that the so-called policy is a deliberate ploy by the state government to create a public hysteria in order to deepen its hypocritical argument of poor standard of public education so as to revive its plan to sell off some public secondary schools in the state.
The implementation of the new promotion policy is already creating a kind of confusion in many secondary schools across the state. For instance in Ijokodo Grammar school, Ibadan, only four (4) students could manage to be promoted in a class of over 87 students. The situation is not also better in Bashorun-Ojo High school, Ibadan where only 18 students managed be promoted in class of over 145 students. More sinister however is that this tale of failure bears resemblance to the pattern of events that preceded the privatization and sale of national assets like the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Nigeria Airways and even the ongoing attempt to kill public refineries for Dangote’s private refinery to thrive when it comes on-stream in few years to come. The agenda is always to make public concerns and national assets look so bad than they really are in order to justify their privatization to party cronies and big business to make profit from.
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 to triggerring 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 can curb this growing mass anger among students.
It is on this basis that we condemn the militarization of schools in the state and demand the immediate withdrawal of police and soldiers that are stationed there in. Instead, we call on the state government to review its rigid stance on the newly formulated promotion policy. If the Ajimobi-led Oyo state government is truly serious about academic excellence, then the government must comply with the recommendation of UNESCO that 26% of annual budget must be voted for public education first and foremost as a basis to reverse the sorry state of public education in the state.
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.
Oyo State Co-ordinator