December 31, 2009 at 5:35 pm (Uncategorized)

I read with concern the report on the reaction of the governor of Ekiti State Mr. Segun Oni to the lingering crisis of performance of school pupils. Although I am taken aback by the solution he proposes, I must first acknowledge the governor’s courage. It takes courage to open that discussion and even more courage to take on the monster that bedevils education instead of pretending to be on top of things.
For academics, it is often frustrating trying to figure out why stakeholders cannot see in its simplicity, the problems that hold down our education sector. Sometimes, we are quite convinced that they see them but shy away. Some make up new indefensible hypotheses that fall apart even before scrutiny. At the last convocation of Tai Solarin University of Education Ijebu Ode, I squirmed in my seat as the Pro-Chancellor of the institution (a former VC of Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye whose students besieged the State House of Assembly in their numbers and would not go until he was removed from office) laboured to explain that education is not free anywhere in the world. Whereas there is an argument that education cannot be free inasmuch as someone is paying for what people would get at no charge, it is erroneous to use that as an excuse for mind-blowing school fees. Leaving the semantics aside, what needs to be said is that a government may decide to provide full or part education for its people and pay for it. If you call it free education or some other nomenclature, it is by the way. That is what a manifesto declares to attract the electorate in a place where democracy makes sense. We not have to look far to find an example of this. Being a beneficiary of the Unity Party of Nigeria’s Free Education Policy in 1979, I received books and stationery. I saw children go to school who would not have dared to appear before the school gates for poverty. Repeatedly, I have read of people who still remain grateful to Obafemi Awolowo for his free education stance. For anyone to stand on the same soil where Obafemi Awolowo actualized free education and within only miles of Obafemi Awolowo’s home town and say that education cannot be free is to open the doors to acute controversy.
There is no harm in admitting that one does not know how to make a thing or a policy work. All that is needed is the courage to call in people who know what to do. That free education cannot work in Nigeria is a lie. …TO READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE, PLEASE CLICK ON THE TITLE ON THE LIST OF PAGES ON THE RIGHT PANE. PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT


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