The recent reclassification of the educational system by the Rauf Aregbesola administration is generating a lot of heat between the Christian community and the government. The main opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party, is cashing in on this development to garner more support ahead of the 2014 governorship election. Our correspondent spoke with leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and PDP on the issue. It is simply explosive.
Barrister Kunle Oyatomi is the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Osun State. A seasoned journalist and administrator, he spoke on the position of his party on the issue.
WHAT really is the problem between the Osun Christians Association of Nigeria and the state government over the merger of some schools in the state and the reclassification of the educational system?
As far as we are concerned, there is no problem. It is the Baptist Christians that have the problem with the innovation going on and it is all about their selfish interest and not the State of Osun. The Baptist Church was around when the entire educational system in Osun collapsed and they did nothing. Now that they have somebody who is comprehensively overhauling the system, they are crying wolf where none exists.
What is in this policy?
The policy wants to desegregate schools run by government and it also wants to make sure that Osun students will not break their education from Primary to Secondary school and thirdly, the new system is designed to align with international best practice in teaching and learning that was absent in the old system.
Fourthly, the new system intends to ensure that our children are healthy at school and the government is providing for the most vulnerable children from Primary 1 to 4. Overall the policy is to develop a total man in our children. That’s what the policy intends to achieve. The policy does not intend to promote any religion whatsoever. So if the Baptist Church is now fretting over its phantom Islamization that is its own creation and it is has nothing to do with the government of Osun.
Why did Opon Imo contain Ifa?
It is for the same reason that it contains the Quran and the Bible. But these are subjects in WAEC syllabus. That WAEC does not contain Ifa does not make Ifa irrelevant. Ifa is the traditional religion of Yoruba nation. It has nothing to do with Babalawo. So if Christians are paranoid about Babalawos (fetish priests), Ifa is a divination of the religion of the worshipers of Olodumare and Olodumare 1s the supreme deity whom the Christians call God and the Moslems call Allah.
As far as we know, the Baptist Church does not own any school in the State of Osun. They could be Baptist in name due to their former ownership but they are essentially run by government. If Government had no such interest in the school, Baptist would not have been part of the merger. There is no privately owned, managed and funded school that is affected by this reclassification policy.
Why this classification when the nation runs 6-3-3-4 school system?
That system remains in place and the government in Osun has done nothing to alter it. What has been done is to align it with global best practice to ensure that no student breaks his education at primary level. For instance the syllabus is unchanged and all students are in the final analysis expected to write WAEC NECO and JAMB examinations. So there is no basis whatsoever for hues and cries on this issue.
With the criticism that greeted the new policy on education by the state government in some quarters, is the government willing to go back on the policy?
This government will not going back on the policy that is well intended to nurture and programme our children to a better future, to make them a total value, to actually improve on their standard, the standard was so low and appalling, before this government came in, where the government sat down did education summit when its first came headed by Professor Wole Soyinka and outcome of this summit is what we are implementing now, from the structure of the school, to the content
in the school and the appearance of our children this is the entire thing that cannot just, looking at the uniform matter, uniform to differentiate the Osun State students, the student in the state from other students, or from privately own schools, and the schools, we call it uniform will also differ from elementary to middle school and high schools, and to further get this thing done, without the action from the parents there is garment factory that has been established where you can go to and replace the uniform of your word, government lives well, is investing very heavily in education because that is the only thing we know our children if Awolowo didn’t do free education there wouldn’t be professors, Doctors today.
Christian Association of Nigeria in the state has just given the government a Seven days ultimatum to that reverse the policy what is the position of your party on the ultimatum?
I think they still have time to rethink on their ultimatum because it would produce nothing. This government is not a government that would be given ultimatum, they will still go back to re appraise
their stand on this matter. We are appealing to them to variable.
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is not fusing or trusting something in the truth of everybody, is idea, plan and target is to make the students in Osun a target of world pride is not a question of because of Muslim, Christian, is a wrong motion to think like that, to every education that we have, he make sure that we have the three religions that is peculiar to Osun, if there is not doing it in Ogun or Oyo it does not mean anything that is what federation is all about, why should someone be saying because we are not feeling fear then fear has nothing to do with that, we have seize status circulation of traditionalist in Osun.
We can’t ignore them and say because they are traditionalists, this is the religion that has been in existence even before two religions came, Muslim and Christian and that is the truth.
Position of opposition party is that this policy will wipe out the issuance of school leaving certificates, what is your takes on this?
They are warped in their thinking; let me tell you, this policy like you must have heard and listen to, it has three categories.
Elementary school 1-4 pupils of age range 5-9 years, middle school grade 5-9 pupils of range 10-14 years and high school grade 10-12 the student of age range of 15-17 what are we talking about primary school, in your first question I think I told you that to make sure that no students drop out of school at primary level so what he is doing with the primary school certificate for God sake in this clime and the age we are, we are talking about primary certificate, there is elementary here, middle and high school the ultimate is WASCE and nobody is saying that this our student will not write WASCE, JAMB or NECO so don’t let us take beyond our intelligent, don’t let us put nothing on something, as I tell you, what Osun government has done past has attracted the federal government interest to throw the light and the example is OYES, which reduce unemployment in our society, what are we talking if something is not working for you why should we switch to it, people should embrace positive change.