Parents of children in public primary and secondary schools in Osun State yesterday protested against the new education policies of the state government, with some accusing the Rauf Aregbesola-led administration of too much propaganda.
The parents, who converged on the state secretariat of the Parents Teachers Association, PTA located at the Government Technical College, Osogbo, condemned the common uniform introduced by the state government which is being sold by only one company brought into the state by the government.
They condemned the quality of the school uniforms given to school children in the state, claiming that the uniforms are of low quality and do not last.
They also complained about the price of the uniform, which they said was expensive, stressing that not many of them could not afford it. The state government charges between N1,800 to N2,000 per uniform. The uniforms were given out free of charge when it was introduced and many parents thought it was part of the free education programme of the state government. Uniforms being used in schools before the introduction of the new one usually cost less than a thousand naira to make.
The parents led by Alhaji Mayowa Popoola also claimed that the widely publicised tablets of knowledge (Opon imon) given to students were not sufficient as many of their children could not benefit from it.
The state chairman of the PTA, Dr Ademola Ekundayo, who addressed protesters, however appealed to the aggrieved parents to remain calm and promised to take their demands to the Governor.
He also assured that the state executives of the PTA would meet with the government officials on how to ensure enduring peace in the education sector in the state, which had been marred with altercations and controversies since the introduction of the new education policy.
In its reaction, the state government, through Mr Semiu Okanlawon, Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Office of the Governor, in its response to the protest by the parents said; “The premise of their supposed protest is faulty because the government has never claimed that it has completed the distribution of the tablets.
“Don’t forget that right from the day Opon Imo was launched, the government told the whole state that 50,000 units would be brought into the country by the manufacturers while 100,000 units are to be assembled at a factory for that purpose in Osun.
“What the Government has reeled out at campaigns are the statistics of distribution at various federal constituencies. For instance, the governor told the crowd at Iwo that so far, a total of 2,062 pupils have received Opon Imo in Iwo Federal Constituency while 2,299 tablets have been distributed in Ayedade/Irewole/Isokan axis.
“Do these figures represent the number of pupils who should actually get Opon Imo? The answer is no! So, where did they get the claim that government has said all pupils in the state have collected the tablets.
“On the issue of uniforms, nothing can be father from the truth because there is no single point of sale but several points of sale across the state. There are agents and distributors who supply these uniforms.
“If their grievance lies in the fact that a company manufactures these uniforms, the people have seen the economic benefits of mass production and how this has generated employments and boosted the industrialisation mission of the government,” he said.