…insists on arrest, prosecution of parents, guardians of out-of-school children
The Edo State Government, on Monday, embarked on monitoring of activities and inspection of schools, as pupils and students resumed for the second term of the 2022/2023 academic session across the state.
The Edo State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Joan Osa-Oviawe, who led other government officials on schools’ inspection, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to rid the state of out-of-school children.
Some schools visited include Imaguero Secondary School, Idia College, Edokpolor Grammar School, Eyaen Secondary School, Umagbae Grammar School and New Era Secondary School, among others.
She noted that teachers in all schools monitored were actively on ground, while there was a low turnout of students.
The Commissioner said, “I have been very happy with the demonstrated commitment to service by our school heads and teachers. All across our schools today in the 18 local government areas, you will find out that teachers are in school. However, the turnout of students and pupils is not what we expected.
“I want to appeal to parents and guardians to release their children to come to school. Since May last year, the ministry released a harmonized calendar and timetable and has said we must teach our students up to 400 hours a term to cover the curriculum, and right from the first day of resumption, learning starts, and those not in school will be behind.
“This is why we have now decided to start implementing the Child Rights Law, which has been in place for several years. The law says that education is free and compulsory and that if a school-age child is kept away from school, the parent or guardian is liable for prosecution.”
She continued: “Last term, we started the School O’clock programme. A mobile court has been set up for an expedited prosecution of these parents and guardians who don’t want to prioritize their children's education.
“Governor Obaseki had said repeatedly that every child in Edo must have quality education, at least the first 15 years of their lives. So, this idea of having school-age children loitering, hawking, and engaging in child labour during school hours will not be tolerated. We have been given the mandate to arrest that situation and stop it forthwith.
“School O'clock has begun. We have started arresting, and any child we find on the streets during school hours, from 7:45 am to 2:45 pm, Monday to Friday, we are going to take that child to wherever their parent or guardian is, pick up the parent or guardian, and book them for prosecution.”
On efforts to enhance teaching and learning across schools in the state, Oviawe stated, “We recognize the significant amount of resources Governor Obaseki is putting into education. He has said all non-tertiary education is free. Wages running into billions are being paid regularly, and we at the ministry want to make sure all the extraneous issues that may negatively impact effective teaching and learning are identified and addressed.
“It is about being responsive, forcing those who don't want to do the right thing, identifying those who need support and supporting them because we don't want to manufacture hoodlums in the state. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Edo State has the lowest number of out-of-school-children and we want to reduce that further.”
She further noted, “Resuming today across the 18 local government areas are about 1,500 EdoSTAR teaching fellows. We are calling them teaching fellows because we want to train them for the next two to three years and entrench a performance-based system. So, there is a lot of polishing that needs to be done to prepare them to be full-time teachers in our schools.”