By Razaq Bamidele
The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said parents who keep their school-age children out of school in the state risk being prosecuted, stressing that the State’s Child’s Right law provides that all children must be given access to education.
The Ekiti State government last week commenced school enrolment drive aimed at ensuring that all school-age children register for the forthcoming 2019/2020 academic session.
Speaking in Eporo, Emure Ekiti during the sensitization programme, Dr. Fayemi who called on all parents and guardians to key into the free education programme of his administration, said education is not only free but compulsory in Ekiti State. He added that it is an abuse of Child’s Right for any parent or guardian to deny school-age children the opportunity to go to school.
He said the state government is providing free but quality education which parents must exploit to build a solid foundation for their children and wards.
“We have a Child’s Right Act in Ekiti which prohibits parents from disallowing children of school age to be out of school during school session. If your child is not in school when the school is in session, you have a lot to explain because we will apprehend the child whether he is found hawking on the street or engaging in any illicit activities which prevent the child from being in school.
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“The parents will have to explain to the government or the relevant institutions why that child is not in school. In order to ensure that we implement that law, we have a family court in the state that takes responsibility for children that are not in school and parents who fail their responsibility”, he said.
While saying that his administration is committed to restoring the State to its pride of place as the fountain of knowledge and its top rank in school enrolment in Nigeria, the Governor said the present administration has provided instructional materials, furniture and a conducive learning environment where teachers can effectively contribute to the growth and development of their pupils.
Fayemi said his administration is opposed to the collection of fees in all public primary and secondary schools in the state, stressing that any teacher caught collecting school fees from pupils would be seen as collecting a bribe.
“For us in Ekiti, it is not enough to say we have free education. We need to enlighten our people particularly in the rural communities on the importance of education and the necessity for their wards to be enrolled because education is also compulsory in our state and we are doing this for basic education level because we have experienced some challenges in the last four years in the state.
“Enrolment figure in the state used to be the highest in the country up till 2014, and then we suffered a decrease in enrolment according to UBEC national figure. We have a duty as a government to ensure that we get the figure back to where it used to be in order to build the foundation that is solid for our children and we have a duty to ensure that we don’t just encourage them to come to school but also provide everything to make sure education is pay-less for them whether in terms of the instructional materials or the school feeding that we now offer them in primary school or the encouragement we give the teacher to deliver competently.”
“All these are things we are working on, and the school environment because it is not just the teacher quality but also the learning environment that contribute to the growth and development of the average child. You cannot put children in an environment where they can’t learn properly because they have no table and chairs, no fence to protect the school premises, the teachers don’t have all they need in terms of maintaining discipline, an entire gamut of responsibilities that we have as parents”, he said.
While urging parents to enrol their wards in public schools where there are qualified teaching personnel, Governor Fayemi said the free education being enjoyed by Ekiti children is a return on the tax being paid by citizens of the state.
Earlier, the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, Prof. Fransisca Aladejana had urged parents to enrol their children and wards in public schools because of the availability of qualified and competent teachers as well as conducive learning environment, being provided by the government.
The Southwest zonal Director of UBEC, Mrs. Mudubi Roseline also called on political and religious leaders to sensitize the people on the importance of enrolling their school age children this session.