An emergency town hall meeting has been slated to address the violent activities of Oyo secondary school students who in the course of one week have burnt and destroyed facilities in at least seven schools and caused death of one person.
The meeting on public education, drug abuse and violence scheduled to hold next Sunday in Oyo Town is organized by Oyo Global Forum, and will be co-chaired by the Commissioner for Education, Adeniyi Olowofela, and a former Speaker of the State, Kehinde Ayoola, PREMIUM TIMES has been told by the organizers.
“The school violence is emblematic of the hydra-headed crisis facing the education sector in our state, and certainly our society,” said OGF’s Vice Chairman, Olorunpoto Rahaman.
He added that the meeting would seek to tackle drug abuse because “our investigation reveals link between the growing indiscipline as well as criminal tendencies among students and widespread drug abuse.”
Last Thursday, the state government announced indefinite closure of five secondary schools across three local government areas in the wake of students’ unrest that began last week over mass failure in exams.
The Commissioner for Education, Adeniyi Olowofela, on Thursday announced the closure which affected Anglican-Methodist Secondary School and Oba Adeyemi High School in Oyo East LGA; Isale Oyo Community High School in Atiba LGA; and Community Secondary School, Iyana Idi-Ose, and Ojoo High School in Akinyele LGA.
Early Thursday, classrooms and other facilities were set ablaze by the by irate students at Isale-Oyo community, a very ugly phase of the unrest.
At Oba Adeyemi High School, on Tuesday, students, armed with weapons, attacked their teachers, destroyed vehicles and school facilities with the aid of non-students, different persons who went to the school and witnessed the violence told PREMIUM TIMES.
They were said to have unleashed the violence just after they received their report cards and saw the trend of failure. One person, a non-student, who sustained injury in the course of the violence died on Wednesday.
Students of Anglican secondary school unleashed mayhem on their teachers and destroyed billboards bearing Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s picture on Monday.
But despite the government’s decision to close five schools and warn against further violence, students of Ladigbolu Grammar School in Oyo attacked their school Friday morning, pulling down part of the fence, PREMIUM TIMES confirmed.
Teachers at AUD Secondary school, Opapa in Oyo West LGA, as Ladigbolu, told this newspaper the school closed abruptly after they noticed some students gathering to unleash mayhem on the school. The teachers said they could not confirm if there was attack eventually but disclosed police officers were called to disperse the students.
In another attack, Oke Olola Community School in Atiba LGA was set on fire late Friday.
“A block was burnt beyond redemption,” a resident and former student of the school, Opeyemi Rasaq, said.
The Problem: Government Improved Promotion Criteria
The Oyo State Government set a new promotion policy which meant only students with 50 per cent in Mathematics and English language would transit to the next class. The pass mark was previously 35 per cent. But with the new policy, mass failure to promote to higher classes followed as consequence which suggested that many had been getting promotions because of the low standard required to transit previously.
Students, just receiving their report cards six weeks into the new session, which they resumed weeks after writing the last promotion exams, alleged that the government made the new promotion policy to “deliberately punish” them after some of them joined their teachers to oppose proposed public private partnership policy on education.
On June 6, students of some schools in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, embarked on anti-Ajimobi protest, resisting the PPP plan.
But the Education Commissioner, Mr. Olowofela, said the promotion criteria was not newly made. He said it was same as “No Automatic Promotion” policy contained in a circular sent to education stakeholders in the state on April 23.
“Records available from WAEC showed that from 1999 to 2015, over fifty thousand students had failed to get five (5) credits, including English and Mathematics each year.
“The abysmal failure necessitated government to set up an educational reform committee. The report had since been submitted and the white paper has been approved by the State Executive Council and is awaiting full implementation,” the commissioner said.
With the old promotion criteria, he said students had developed a sense of laxity, the don said.
“The rationale for the stoppage of old policy of automatic promotion in public schools include the fact that the system denied the schools the ability to truly and rigorously prepare our students for external examination of bodies like the West African Examination Council (WAEC), National Examination Council (NECO) and JAMB.
“Consequently, because we are usually ill-prepared for external examinations, our state always come embarrassingly short, even behind states that are traditionally considered to be educationally backward,” he added.