Rising from its National Executive Council meeting held in Abuja at the weekend, USOSA said: ‘NEC registered unanimous displeasure at the manner of the conclusion of the investigation by the Federal Ministry of Education regarding the widely publicized allegations of sexual molestation in Queens College, Lagos.
“NEC considered that the manner in which the investigation was concluded did not adequately reflect the seriousness with which allegations of sex abuse and predatory sexual behaviour in schools should be treated.”
At the meeting presided over by the President General of the association, Dr Chidi Odinkalu,the association stated that the excuse that the alleged victim did not come forward to testify to the investigation panel was not sufficient to warrant the conclusion that the allegations were unfounded.
In a communique issued at the end of the meeting and signed by the Secretary General and Publicity Secretary, Salim Ibrahim and Katherine Pam respectively, USOSA said that the deliberations “revealed quite clearly testimonies confirming that sex abuse has been and remains a widespread and frequent occurrence in our schools, attracting no consequences to perpetrators and sometimes resulting in the victims being punished with expulsion.”
The association resolved to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Education and the relevant law enforcement agencies with a view to developing appropriate policy responses to the problem of sex abuse in schools including, developing standards and protocols for ethics and accountability for teachers; curriculum reform and adequate mechanisms for protection of complainants.
USOSA pledged to work with all providers of education and government at all levels to safeguarding of children in schools.
The association also expressed concern at the situation of the country and noted that Nigeria confronted multiple threats to its unity, social cohesion, human development and inter-community co-existence and reaffirmed the commitment of USOSA to the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria.
It endorsed endorsed education and security as a priority for its members and therefore urged members to give priority to safe education for students in schools across the Nigeria, especially in the North East region of the country where the violence of Boko-Haram had focused on the destruction of schools and educational infrastructure.
USOSA identified accountability for the public resources appropriated for education as a major recurrent issue for public education.
It noted that there had been many instances of arbitrary levies and diversion of appropriated resources.