By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
A socio-cultural group, Oyo Development Initiative, has urged the Oyo State government not to treat the secondary schools students’ protest with kid gloves saying that strict measures should be taken to prevent future occurrence.
The organization, in a statement at the weekend by its Coordinator, Dr. Adesola Okanlawon, said that corrective measures like making the affected students undergo counseling sessions in order to re-orientate them will go a long way beyond the closure of schools and apologies from the affected schools.
Okanlawon stated that the group condemns the actions of the students, who have turned themselves to arsonists, stressing that their parents should also be factored into whatever punishment and measures the government will take to avert future occurrence.
According to him, “it is sad that we now have touts in school uniforms. The action of the students is rather unfortunate and all hands must be on deck to deal with the situation. Even, students of higher institutions rarely destroy government properties during their ‘Aluta’ days. One now wonders what students of secondary schools have turned into?
“It would be recalled that the state government asked students, teachers and the principals of the school who participated in a protest in May to officially apologize for their unwarranted actions. The government’s statement was greeted with so much resistance with many querying why the government needed the teachers, students and principal’s apologies.
“There were arguments for and against the apology and many of those who were against the apologies were oblivious of the level of rot in the education sector in the state. No doubt, the recent protest by some students over the no automatic promotion policy of the government has justified the decision of the government. It is now obvious that our secondary schools breed thugs in uniform.
“To repeat a class is not a new thing and students who are adjudged not to pass their examinations are expected to repeat the class. The recent statistics of students’ failure released by the government show that education is on the verge of collapse if the government does not take strict measures to save it.
“It will be totally unacceptable for students to be given automatic promotion when records available from WAEC according to the state government showed that from 1999 to 2015, over fifty thousand students failed to get five (5) credits (including English and Mathematics) each year. No sane individual will support automatic promotion for students under this condition and we believe that the abysmal failure pattern must be redressed.
“We urge the government not to treat the recent protest with kid gloves and call on them to ensure that strict measures are put in place to prevent future occurrence. Parents of the affected students and schools should also be invited for talk and made to sign an undertaking of good behavior each from their children.
“There shouldn’t be breakdown of law and order based on the activities of secondary school students. The government should fish out touts in uniforms and send them to reformation centres for proper counseling. No matter what they do, they are still our children and they should be properly guided in order not be a waste among their generation,” Dr. Okalawon noted.
The group’s coordinator called on stakeholders in the education sector to support the initiatives of the government to reform the sector and consequently urged the media to continue to be a worthy partner in order to educate and sensitize the public on the need to establish a new education order in Oyo State.