Principals of Federal Unity Colleges in the South-west Zone recently organised a three-day capacity-building workshop for pastoral caregivers of colleges in the zone.
The workshop, with the theme ‘Effective Approaches to Institutional Management amidst Insecurity and Coronavirus (COVID-19)’, held at Queen’s College, Lagos.
In her remarks, the Zonal Chairman, and Principal of the host college, Dr. Tokunbo Yakubu-Oyinloye, said last year’s training focused on academics, targeted at improving students’ performance in six subjects.
She emphasised the importance of training and retraining, which she said are key in ensuring that unity schools remain models and that the staff have what it takes to move the colleges higher in the 21st century.
“We believe in the total development of the child. While promoting academics we believe that we also need to provide a conducive, safe and warm environment for our students to learn and grow in,” she stated.
She said the caregivers are non-teaching staff, comprising those in the security, the clinic, catering, the guidance and counselling units, as well as coordinators of academic activities and year heads.
According to her, challenges of insecurity, bullying and fagging, which can sometimes have dire consequences; COVID-19 and other health issues, such as youth depression, sometimes lead to suicide. It could also lead to indiscipline, cultism and other social vices among youths, she said.
The chairman noted that institutions also had the challenge of providing adequate feeding, health care, guidance, counselling, secure hostel and classroom environment and basic amenities.
“We work round the clock to see how we can produce well-adjusted and developed youths from our schools. The environment should be safe not just physically but also psychologically, emotionally and mentally for the child.
“The officers we have gathered here today, the Senior Boarding House master/mistress (SBHM), vice principal/officer in charge of year heads, the nurse, the caterer, the counsellor and the officer in charge of security all have a role to play in providing this safe environment,” Yakubu-Oyinloye stated.
According to her, the federal government has provided the schools with tools and resources to do their jobs. She thanked the government for the trust reposed in them in posting them to our various schools as principals and other staff.
She noted that the Federal Ministry of Education frowned at bullying, fagging and violence.
The guest speaker, Dr. Sunday Adegbesan, the Head of the Training and Research Department, National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), called on schools to set up safety and security committees amid worsening insecurity.
He said to reduce the negative effects of insecurity and COVID-19, school managers should be equipped with strategies to ensure that the school premises and the surrounding environment are free from vices such as weapons, drugs, and alcohol.
Adegbesan noted that the committees must comprise representatives of teachers, students, the Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs), community members and others.
Giving a breakdown of guidelines of emergency plans to create a safety, security and violence-free school environment at the school level, he added that the committees would also take responsibility for the safety agenda at the community and school levels.
He urged schools also to appoint school safety focal point teachers, school safety and security prefects, to anchor the operation of safety-related actions at the school levels as part of their routine.
“Each school should also provide the school safety focal point teacher with the necessary training to put the safety and security policies and guidelines into effect,” stated Adegbesan.
According to him, some security threats include terrorism, kidnapping, banditry, stealing and damaging school properties, encroachment of school land and escalated communal clashes.
He said the head of school and staff should take all necessary steps to ensure that a clean, safe and hygienic environment is provided to learners at all times.
A participant, Mr. Andrew Agada, the Principal of King’s College, Lagos, said the workshop positively impacted the schools’ general administration.
“We expect those trained during these two full days, to go back to their various schools and share the ideas and concepts learnt here with others in their units and departments.
Mr Amos Akinpelu, Principal, Federal Government College, Odogbolu, Ogun State said the school system has the mandate to impart knowledge and development skills in the children, but there are those behind the scene that provide support services to make it functional.
These persons he said are as critical as the teachers, in moulding the minds of the children.