Illegal Schools Closure: CLO Wants Reforms In Akwa Ibom Education

The Akwa Ibom State Government’s intension to close down 1,140 “illegal” nursery, primary and secondary schools in the state has continued to generate interest and comments from stakeholders, parents, School Proprietors, government and citizens of the state.

The right to basic education to every Nigerian child, as enshrined in the Child Rights Act of 2003 in Article 15 (1), has been domesticated under the Childs Rights Law of Akwa Ibom State. This piece of legislation gives every child in the State the right to compulsory, free and qualitative basic education.

In the Fundamental Objectives and Directives Principles of State Policy, as contained in Chapter 2, Section 13 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), government is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that education for Nigerian children is free and qualitative.

With the above background, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Akwa
Ibom State Branch wishes to make the following statements on the proposed closure of the identified “illegal” schools:

1. CLO recognises the right of the Akwa Ibom State government to regulate, supervise and set standards for the operation of educational institutions, especially at the nursery, primary and secondary school levels in the State.

2. CLO appreciates the efforts of government to ensure that Akwa Ibom youths are properly educated to enable them compete favourably in an increasingly competitive environment of a globalised world. And, CLO welcomes government’s proposed Education Summit aimed at addressing pressing educational issues in the State.

3. CLO will join government to condemn the mushrooming of substandard schools in the State, as they constitute a setback in the State’s march to a well educated citizenry. We urge the government to do everything possible to check the trend and ensure that only schools that meet the standards are allowed to operate in the State.

4. It is however, the wish of the Civil Liberties Organisation to point out a number of issues that government must first address before proceeding to sanitise the school environment.

i. CLO draws attention of the State government to the report published by Premium Times in 2018, wherein, the online newspaper catalogued the many ills of the school system in Akwa Ibom State. Such shortcomings include, deplorable state of infrastructure in public schools all over the state, the scarcity of teachers in many schools, especially those in the rural areas, the lack of basic teaching materials, lack of libraries, computer laboratories, science laboratories and other things that aid learning in public schools. We note with regret that the Premium Times report was politicised without the state government taking benefit of the report to carryout fundamental reforms in the educational sector.

ii. CLO wishes that government takes another look at the state of learning and teaching environment in public schools, which necessitated the rush by parents to withdraw their wards from public schools. It is instructive that even teachers in public schools do not send their children to public schools, let alone the well heeled government officials and civil servants in the State.

iii. The proliferation of private schools in the State is as a result of the comatose nature of standards in public schools. These schools sprang up to fill the existing gap in education at that level. So government must, as a matter of urgency, rise to its responsibilities by ensuring that the standards they wish the private schools to have, must first, be maintained by government in public schools. Government cannot be carrying a log in its eyes and expect to remove the speck in the eyes of the so called “illegal” schools.

iv. It is sad to note that many communities in the State have no public schools at the primary and secondary school levels. So, the now “illegal” schools came as a result of such gaps. For a very long time now, successive governments have not deemed it right to establish new schools in the State.

These are unfortunate gaps that business men and women are cashing in on to milk residents of the State in the name of private schools.

5. CLO urge the Akwa Ibom State government to first rehabilitate
existing public schools all over the State, equip them to make way to a more conducive learning and teaching environment. Recruit more teachers, retrain those already in service, give them befitting remuneration and cater for the welfare of retired teachers in the State.

6. The Akwa Ibom State government should commence immediate and
massive establishment of schools to shorten the distances children
travel before they get to a public school.

7. The so-called illegal schools, rather than being shut down with immediate effect as proposed by government, should be given the standard required by government and given a window period within which to shape up or be shipped off. A wholesale closure will have a very terrible effect on the sector as existing schools will become over stretched and shylock private school proprietors will have an excuse to take school fess to the rooftops.

8. The Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Education should be made to live
up to its responsibilities by ensuring that schools not approved do not even commence classes. It is a mark of utter dereliction of duties that over 1,140 schools came into being without attracting the attention of government till now.

9. The government owes a huge responsibility to Akwa Ibom children to give them qualitative education.

Otuekong Franklyn Isong

Comrade (Barr.) David Augustine
(Campaigns/Publicity Secretary)



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