Interviews: Babajide Fadoju, on Participatory Management of Public Schools in Oyo State


 

Recently the Oyo State Government initiated a Public Private Partnerships for ownership of Secondary Schools in the State. This move raised a more than a few concerns among stakeholders as everybody sought to understand the project and what the State Government intended to achieve with it. Recently a stakeholders meeting that was to be held by the Oyo State Government on the project was disrupted, and since then tensions have remained high between the Government of Oyo State and various stakeholders with various kinds of information coming out through different sources.

Thus in order to clarify the side of the Oyo State Government on the issue of the Public Private Partnership of ownership of public secondary schools in Oyo State, the Special Assistant to Governor Abiola Ajimobi, the Governor of Oyo State, Babajide Fadoju convened a press conference with social media influencers and answered questions on issues that have been brewing on the subject. Here is the full detail of the interview with Babajide Fadoju, SA to the Oyo State Governor on New Media.

What is the name of this new education management initiative?

Participatory Management of Public Secondary Schools in Oyo State

Why is the OYSG returning schools to the owners/missionaries/communities?

This initiative is not about returning schools to any body(ies). The government is simply inviting all interested stakeholders (not necessarily former owners, missionaries and communities) to partner with it in the sustainable management of public secondary schools.

Is the government selling/ceding/privatizing public schools?

We are NOT ceding, selling or privatizing public schools. The government’s intention is to partner with interested stakeholders who wish to support the government in the management of these schools. They may be alumni associations, communities, or philanthropists. Generally the Government is looking at any individual, body or agency that is genuinely interested in contributing to the development of qualitative education in Oyo State

How many of the public schools will be affected 

Presumably less than 10 per cent of the 631 public secondary schools in Oyo State are likely to be involved in this partnership.

Will the school fees be affordable for the poor?

Government will moderate fees in the affected schools to ensure affordability, apart from the availability of alternatives within the same environment, whose facilities will also undergo facility upgrade.

The beauty of the proposed partnership is that students in the schools likely to be affected is that current students from JSS II to SSS III will continue to enjoy free education and not pay school fees until they graduate.

What happens to the quality of the schools that do not benefit from the proposed partnerships?

All public schools in Oyo State are currently undergoing assessment and improvements, not only in the areas of infrastructure but even in terms of curricular development.

The recently introduced N1,000 education levy in public schools is meant for this purpose in addition to other investments intended for their upgrade and development..

How will the intended programme be prevented from favouring urban centres at the detriment of rural schools?

The planned programme is open to all senatorial districts of the state, without restriction to any particular areas.

Was this part of the APC Manifesto? 

What was part of the APC Manifesto is to provide our people with qualitative education that is affordable and sustainable.

Has this idea been successfully test-run anywhere else?

Lagos, Ogun, and many Eastern states have successfully run various partnership models that ensure the engagement/support of the private sector working alongside their respective Ministries of Education.

Was the main reason for this partnership wage bill reduction?

Not at all. The main reason is to allow for the participation of interested stakeholders in the management of our secondary schools for the greater good of our students, their parents/ guardians as well as our education management system.

How about fears of possible religious conflicts arising from this proposal? 

There shouldn’t be any fears. The Government intends to ensure freedom of religious preferences through  its regulatory mechanisms and shall stoutly resist any form of religious imposition or intolerance. Our religious diversity will be maintained.

How will this proposal affect the promotion, salary, gratuity of the teachers?

Fist of all, all teachers are at liberty to choose between staying with their present employer (Government) and whoever becomes the partnering entity. In either case, such employee/employer  issues can easily be sorted out on terms and conditions that are mutually agreeable to both parties. Suffice to say that Government will not leave any teacher at the mercy of any of its partners since government will always remain an active regulator of the relationships and standards of engagement.

Was the NLC/NUT invited for the stakeholders’ meeting?

Like other stakeholders, they were formally invited via letters that were duly received, acknowledged and signed for. There is documentary evidence to back this up.

How true is the claim that the NLC was violent during the protest?

They came, not only chanting abusive songs against the person of the Governor and his top aides, they rough-handled the SSG and other officials, armed with stones and other weapons. They needlessly upturned tables, chairs and other items of furniture inside the hall where the event was to hold. They chased out and booed invited participants already seated for the meeting.

There are rumours that after the incident at the secretariat, the Oyo State Government ordered the arrest of some members the state NLC leadership?

The Oyo State Government did not order the arrest of the labour leaders as it is not the prerogative of the government to order anybody’s arrest. Only Security agencies and the Law Courts have the constitutional responsibility of doing that as part of their duties of maintaining law and order.

What happens if this proposal eventually fails to enjoy popular support from stakeholders?

We do not expect an idea whose purpose is for the greater good of the majority to be unpopular. In any case, we should not preempt the outcome of the forum. In the unlikely event of a rejection of the proposal by the majority however, Government will certainly submit to the established popular opinion.

The last has not been heard of the Public Private Partnership on ownership of Secondary Schools in Oyo State and we shall continue to keep you abreast of issues as they come up. both here and on social media. We hope to talk to more stakeholders so that we can create a balanced perspective on the project

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