Following widespread condemnation of the plan of the government to hand over the ownership and operations of some public schools in the state to private individuals and religious organisations, the government of Oyo state is seriously striving to set the record straight on the subject.
Addressing a press conference, the government said it is not planning to privatise public schools in the state. According to the Special Adviser to the Governor on Communication and Strategy, Yomi Layinka, what the government is trying to do is to go into Public Private Partnership and return some public schools back to its original owners.
If you don’t understand how this works, let me paint a picture. I attended Loyola College Ibadan which was originally founded by the Catholic Church but was taken from the church by the government. Essentially what the government said it is trying to do is to give Loyola College back to the Catholic Church… at least that is the latest version being propagated by the government’s PR team.
Addressing newsmen, Layinka said what the government is doing is simply in response to calls for return of the schools to missionaries and communities. According to him, it is not all the schools in the state that will be ceded in the process. Instead, he said only about 30 out of the 631 schools in the state will be affected.
“The issue of return of schools has been a recurring issue since 1975 when schools were taking over by government from missionaries and private individuals for best reasons known to them. Governor Ajimobi administration has deemed fit to respond positively to their request and has started the process of returning the schools as far as it is for public interest especially for proper management and sustenance of such schools,” Layinka said.
“It will create energy and resources to manage the schools properly. It is a concept of PPP which is operated globally. We have advertised for an expression of interest from stakeholders interested to pick up the form. There will be clearly stated agreement to be meet before an MOU will be signed”
Criteria used in selecting the 30 schools to be ceded:
Spread of government secondary schools in the area, total population of students in the area, evidence of previous experience in school administration, evidence of means of financial and management capability to operate the school successfully on their return
According to Layinka, no student in any of the affected schools, that is from JSS II to SS III will be liable to payment of school fees. He added that existing primary schools in the premises of some of the secondary schools affected will not be interfered with at this stage.
The spokesman for the government assured that the ceding process will not result in the retrenchment of teachers since according to him, the teachers in affected schools have two options – to remain with the new school owners or stay as government’s employees.
“Government will ensure that stakeholders comply with open administration policy, adherence to government policy in state, regular inspections to ensure quality assurance.”