Waiting for Ogun Mega Schools0
In response to the challenges posed by return of schools to missionaries, Ogun State Government has embarked on the construction of mega schools. Currently, it is building 15 of what it describes as model schools in various parts of the state.
This development was unveiled by the state Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, while giving the stewardship account of the first half of his four-year tenure. For a state that is known to have produced many leading lights in education, where literacy level is also comparatively high, it was expected that Amosun would highlight what his government has been doing in the sector.
It was the government of Bola Tinubu that started the new wave of returning missionary schools and others to their owners. The plan initially generated a lot of controversy – and even doubt – around 2000/2001. But the schools were eventually returned to their owners, with several conditions that include the fact that on no account should the lucky owners divert the facilities to projects other than those educational.
Interestingly, Amosun’s predecessor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, had taken the same step on getting into office in 2003, amidst a similar cloud of controversy. One major reason why the schools were returned bordered on the urge to lessen financial burden on government. But while the policy may have been achieving this in a way, it created some other new challenges. First, it stressed parents who had to cope with the confusion and challenges posed by the transfer of their children and wards to other school. After all, in many cases, the parents could not afford fees being charged by the now private owners of the institution.
Besides, as Amosun noted while inspecting the model school projects, alongside others, the biggest headache the policy has created for the government is that of overcrowding in many of the schools in the state. Suddenly, government realised that it now has less number of schools and more pupils. The governor’s initial response when he just got to office was the idea of claiming back the schools. But, somehow, the government seems to have dropped the idea.
Amosun said, last week,“Fifteen model secondary schools are under construction at various locations across the state. The schools were conceptualised to serve the twin objectives of decongesting classrooms in the state. The projects is also the government’s response to the return of major missionary schools to churches by the last administration, which pushed over 22,000 secondary school pupils out of school. The 15 schools are the first set of the 28 model schools being planned by the OGSG.”
Those familiar with the state of some of the schools would realise that overpopulation is, indeed, a major issue. Recently, the story of one of such in Ibafo was published. In a class, up to 120 pupils were sighted. In response to queries on this, the government had given a hint on the coming of the model schools which, it added, would also be a response to the intricacies of getting suitable land to build smaller schools.
But lest the ovation overtake the import of the policy,experts would want the government to really attain the standard that makes a school to be called ‘model.’ It must be prepared to be ‘model’ in the construction of the institutions. The quality of facilities provided will matter a lot. The teachers to run the schools should also be shaped up so that the usual lacklustre approach to teaching, which has affected standards in the country, will not rear its head in the schools.
Experts stress that before a school can be called a ‘model’, it must accommodate standard in all areas of education delivery. Says an online portal, “Necessary infrastructure will be provided in such schools not only for satisfying teaching needs, but also for sports and co-curricular activities. There will be sufficient scope for sports, recreation and out door activities. Facilities like play ground, gardens, auditorium etc will be provided in model schools.
These schools will have adequate ICT infrastructure, Internet connectivity and full time computer teachers. The teacher/pupil ratio should not exceed 1:25 and the classrooms will be spacious enough to accommodate at least 30 pupils. However, classroom-students ratio will not exceed 1:40.
“Health Education and health check up will be introduced in these schools. A good library with books and magazines for students and teachers will be provided. Field trips and educational tours will be an integral part of the curriculum.”
While Amosun said that these factors have been considered, he noted that towards the fulfilment of the government’s promise on ‘affordable qualitative education programme,’ it adopted the free education to all pupils in its primary and secondary schools.
He said in the mid-term broadcast, “We allocated between 22 and 25 per cent of our annual budget consistently to education in line with UNESCO’s recommendation; N3.2 bn was expended on the purchase of free textbooks, exercise books and other instructional material distributed to all public primary and secondary school pupils. We also invested N120m on bursary, scholarship and grants to 10, 770 students of Ogun State origin ranging from N100,000 paid to students in the Law School to N10,000 each to pupils with special needs in primary schools. A total sum of N5.44bn was paid as monthly subvention to all our state-owned tertiary institutions since 2011 till date.”
He noted that such efforts had been yielding positive results in all our schools. According to him, total enrolment for the 2010/2011 and 2012/2013 academic sessions indicates that the figure increased from 728,146 to 893,917, an increase of 165,771 or 18.54 per cent.
The mega schools are being built in Ilaro, Itele, Ado-Odo, Sagamu, Ifo, Odogbolu, among other towns in the state.
Source: Punch Newspaper