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Osun: between model and mega-schools




Folorunsho Bamisayemi, the Osun commissioner for Education, must consider himself some wit, if not an all-knowing Daniel come to judgment, with his ringing verdict on the Aregbesola-era “mega schools”, which he thumbed down as a virtual waste.

“I will renovate every school in Osun and put more teachers if I have access to the money used in building a mega school,” he told the press, insisting those 10 schools, with an eleventh 90 per cent completed, all built with N16.5 billion of public funds, were being underutilized.

To start with, what schools were Commissioner Bamisayemi talking about, that he would have renovated, employed an army of teachers and still keep a healthy change? They certainly can’t be in the class of those futuristic schools the old government took so much pains and sacrifice to conceive and build.

Besides, if there were enough schools worth their names, and if indeed they could be  renovated to make any difference as Mr. Bamisayemi now crows, it is doubtful if any rational government would take sweeping steps to build new ones.

By the way, by his condescension over the so-called “mega schools”, does Mr. Bamisayemi even realize Governor Gboyega Oyetola was the chief of staff in the government that built those schools, following recommendations from the Wole Soyinka Education Summit, convoked to plot a way from the ruins that Osun public education had become?

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How does the commissioner feel his principal would feel, that an appointee of his is conking, in the most reckless and insensitive of manners, a legacy which glory — or short-fall — the present governor must proudly — or gamely — share, or bear?  Hardball thinks the governor should call his commissioner to order.

Without prejudice to tweaking policies to match the moment — governance, after all must be dynamic and never static — the commissioner’s take would appear in bad faith and taste.

That a facility has over-capacity is nothing to be mocked, if a government is visionary and futuristic.  Indeed, that reality should take credit for bucking the Nigerian general malaise, of planning always lagging behind population growth.  That has accounted for much of the urban chaos and town planning fiascos that continue to plague the land.

So, it’s the commissioner’s job to think through that challenge and advise the state executive council as to how to maximize the gains of that investment.  But that starts from differentiating “mega” from “model” schools.

“Mega” tends to suggest bigness in itself.  That can’t be an option, if scarce public resources — procured with loans — were deployed. But “model” suggests creating and radically expanding a conducive learning environment, for thousands of Osun public school pupils: most of them from poor and vulnerable homes.

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Better schools, for most children and youths, can’t be harmful to anyone, even if the facilities are currently under-utilized.  That is why Commissioner Bamisayemi must embark on serious strategic thinking, to maximize the gains of those assets, instead of trying to mock those who thought hard to put those facilities in place.

Governor Oyetola should really call this commissioner to order.  If a chain is as strong as its weakest link, then the vision of giving a cross section of Osun public school pupils the best, in learning tools and environment, must really be embraced.

From his comment, the commissioner appears not at par with that critical vision.  That cannot be good for a state trying to secure better education for the greatest number, after the Jeremy Bentham dictate of the greatest happiness of the greatest number.


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