The on-going reformation in education system in Osun State has continued to generate controversies as the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II and Christians Association of Nigerian (CAN), Osun State Chapter disagreed on the new policy.
While the CAN gave the state government seven-day ultimatum within which to reverse its decision and revert to status quo; the monarch insisted that the new education policy in the state is reminiscent of the education reforms of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo during the first republic and should be encouraged to stay.
CAN in its ultimatum via a statement issued on October 9, 2013 and signed by its chairman, Reverend Elisha Ogundiya called on the state government to stop the merger of public primary and secondary schools forthwith, reverse the changing of single sex school to co-educational schools so as to preserve the religious character of each school and return mission schools to the original owners.
The religion body observed that the foundation of the Christians faith is being seriously threatened by some policies of the state government especially in the education sector and that the church is being looked upon to have compromised on the matter.
But while speaking during a question and answer session at the third edition of public talk shop tagged “Gbangba Dekun, a platform by the state government for people to meet their leaders and office holders including the governor, Oba Okunade Sijuwade described the education policies of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, as being reminiscent of the education reforms of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, during the First Republic.
Oba Sijuwade who was represented at the occasion by Obalufe of Iremoland, Chief Folorunsho Omisakin said “one striking resemblance between Awolowo’s education reform and Aregbesola’s current education reform is that both were antagonised.
According to him, “in 1955 when Awolowo started his education reforms in the then Western Region, people antagonised him but the late sage remained undaunted in his commitment to turning around the region’s education fortune.
Ooni said Awolowo’s reform succeeded at last because of late politician’s tenacity of purpose and selfless conviction for the future of the region.
He added that but for the focus and determination Awolowo had, he would have chickened out of the programme and the entire South West region would have been the worst for it.
He regretted that a few people had failed to see beyond the immediate to see the overall benefit of the school reform process blaming those antagonizing the plans as mixing pure development issues in the education sector with politics and religion.
He commended the bold step of the governor in tackling the rot in this all-important sector, advising him not to be distracted by what some people are doing or saying about the reforms.
“Your programme too will succeed like that of Obafemi Awolowo. When Awolowo started the reform, people antagonised him. They said the programme would not succeed. But before our very eyes, Awo’s education programme succeeded. We still can see many of the products of that reform till today.
“If other regions had followed what he did in education sector in the then Western region, may be today there won’t be Boko Haram up North or militants in the Niger Delta. Or at worst, what we would have today are educated militants and Boko Haram members.
“So, like Awo, don’t be discouraged by antagonisms and criticisms of few people. Remain focused on your reform programme and you will succeed,” Ooni said.
He advised government on accountability through effective monitoring by school inspectors, attributing the collapse of previous education system to the sudden disappearance of old school inspectorate system.
Commending the governor’s sterling performance in the last three years, the first class monarch said an upright man would come to the fore for public assessment without fear, which is why Aregbesola organises such public, meet-your-leader forum for an assessment of his government’s performance in the open.
In his response, Aregbesola commended the people of the state for their unflinching supports for all his administration’s programmes.
He disclosed that there are school inspectors monitoring the schools’ activities on regular basis, but promised that more would be deployed for effective monitoring across the state.
The governor said his administration, since its inception, has prioritized education and agriculture for the nation to be advanced in knowledge and self-sustained in food production.
He called on the youths in the state to key-in into the agriculture programmes of government so as to tap from vast business opportunities available.