By Victor Ogunje
The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has disclosed that his administration decided to return schools to missions and original owners to checkmate the activities of those he described as profiteers and undisciplined elements in the system.
He added that it was part of the quests for moral and value restoration to secondary school cadre and rid the schools of decadent practices like ICT fraud called ‘yahoo’, truancy and examination malpractices.
Fayemi dispelled the fear that the federal government-powered school feeding programme has been cancelled, saying the removal of the policy from the office of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to a newly formed Ministry of Humanitarian Services caused the delay.
Fayemi spoke in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday at a homecoming/reunion press conference held by 1975-80 set of Christ’s School, Ado Ekiti, marking the 40th anniversary of leaving the secondary school.
The governor, who doubles as the President of the Set, applauded the alumni groups across the state for partnering with the government to raise the standard of education through the provision of facilities and funding, saying the state would create a more coordinated platform for useful engagement with them.
Fayemi said: “Our education was not at the level we are during our time, but I also don’t think we should despair because of the high level of dialogue and partnership among stakeholders the state government is midwifing.
“We have no reason not to achieve qualitative education. During our time, we didn’t enjoy free education until 1979, but we paid affordable school fees. We paid N20 per term.
“Education is a right and not a privilege and that was why I introduced free education and we are returning some schools to missions and original owners, who are not also profiteers. They will charge fees, but they will charge reasonably. We are returning schools to those who can provide discipline.
“We are also incorporating the alumni associations into our developmental agenda. I have received series of correspondences and communications from religious organisations like Methodist, Nawarudeen, Catholic and Anglican, writing that they wanted their schools back.
“Under this arrangement, the government will still be paying for teachers until we reach an arrangement for those that will take over and we will work out arrangement on how to handle some of these grey areas in the affected schools.”
Fayemi assured the audience that the school feeding programme will start in Ekiti as soon as the new federal ministry restarts the implementation across all interested states.
The governor refuted the widespread impression that public schools are of no value, clarifying that there was no reason for government to have schools that can offer qualitative education, if the proper things are put in place to strengthen the system.
Speaking about school enrolment in Ekiti, Fayemi said: “In 2014, we had 96 per cent enrolment in Ekiti, but in 2018, when I came back, Ekiti was the least in the South-west. But today, we have raised it to over 75 per cent, because of free education. We don’t allow PTA to force students out on no account.
“It has become a policy now in Ekiti, if we found your child on the streets during school hours and he is of school age, his parents will have a lot to answer for, apart from renovation and provisions of instructional materials the government is doing.”