Opinion: Those criticizing Aregbesola’s education policy just don’t get it

by Ayo Bankole Akintujoye

Rauf-Aregbesola1

Such writers and speakers are quick to condemn the so called merger of same-sex schools with mixed ones, and termed the merger as “islamization of Osun schools”. Really, how ridiculous can this be?? How can schools that belong to the government, and therefore secular, be referred to as Christian or Islamic schools?

While I must agree that some components of the reclassification policy recently embarked upon by the Aregbesola administration in Osun state are not “well-suited” for the cultural realities of Osun state (and by extension Nigeria), I feel we should not crucify the policy in its entirety, especially from a largely biased and myopic point of view as most of his critics have been.

It is degrading that some Nigerians have attempted to reduce a holistic policy into religious and political sentiments. Such writers and speakers are quick to condemn the so called merger of same-sex schools with mixed ones, and termed the merger as “islamization of Osun schools”. Really, how ridiculous can this be? How can schools that belong to the government, and therefore secular, be referred to as Christian or Islamic schools? And where in the world has it been proven that children in same sex schools perform better than their contemporaries in mixed schools? In fact the American Department of Education has established that single-sex classrooms or school environments does not guarantee  success in education, but educational success is dependent on other factors such as good learning environment and instructional materials (which is what I believe the Educational policy is aimed at putting in place).

When are we going to stop being holier than Jesus and more Muslim than Prophet Muhammed in Nigeria? And who says those are the only components of the education policy? For example, the introduction of the Yoruba culture and Ifa-knowledge as an optional subject and degradation of religious studies from compulsory to optional is a good thing for promotion of our cultural legacies. I believe that the Harvard designed “opon-imo” is the climax of the policy and an excellent revolutionary initiative in our educational system.

Such initiatives have been experimented even on children of the most remote societies in Africa, and have been seen to be an amazing stimulant of learning. For example, the UN-Backed One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC), has distributed more than two million low-cost laptops in 42 developing countries in the last seven years and has recorded several success stories (Please read on their experience among some Ethiopian children, who learnt to read the English alphabets within months and sing unaided with such devices). Just recently, Opon-Imo was recognized as one of the best 4 e-learning devices across the world by the United Nations-backed World Summit Award Global Congress on E-Content and creativity. I believe it will do us no good if we focus on the limitations (such as electricity, low-skilled teachers, etc.) and brood over the demerits (everything has one), rather than take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities provided for the children to learn, with access to over 50 textbooks including the Bible, Quran, and Opon Ifa, without spending much (as most public school children are less-privileged than their private counterparts), and platform for exposure to the use of technology.

I agree Ogbeni should immediately review some of the components of the policy to forestall violence in the once peaceful state, however, I also believe he should expand on some of his policies especially as regards curriculum content, construction of modern schools and reclassification into elementary, middle, and high schools; the free school feeding program (an age-long stimulant for school attendance), etc. other components like the merger of same-sex schools with mixed ones, eradication of religion-based divisions in schools, etc can be re-worked after further consultations with relevant stakeholders. But these policies should not be ridiculed with religious and political sentiments please. God be with Nigerian school children!

 

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Ayo Bankole tweets from @AyoBankole

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

 

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