The Kwara State Government is insisting that it is the owner of the 10 Christian schools in battle with it over a controversial hijab policy the schools say they will not implement.
But the Christian community maintains the schools belongs to it, though government has been responsible for paying staff salary for decades as grants.
It has also told teachers and staff of the mission schools it shut down in Ilorin to report for duty on Friday, March 19, 2021 or face disciplinary measures.
The Executive Chairman of the Kwara state Teaching Service Commission, (TESCOM), Malam Bello Tahueed Abubakar,said in a statement in Ilorin on Thursday: “Any staff who fails to report for duty will face the full wrath of the law, as the state government will not condone any act of insurbordination.”
The leaders of the mission schools have vowed not to allow the use of the hijab head gear and have demanded the return of the schools to their original owners.
“The teachers’ resumption has become necessary in order to prepare the final year students for their external examinations,” the TESCOM statement added.
TESCOM said the peace meeting between the government and the stakeholders continues, warning that all stakeholders should refrain from taking the laws into their hands.
Bello, appealed to parents and members of the public to remain calm as the government was on top of the situation since its meeting with stakeholders was still ongoing.
The controversy continues as a speech by former State military governor, Col. D.L. Bamgboye was being circulated on social media to drive home the position of the Christian community.
Below is the address delivered decades ago:
KWARA STATE SCHOOLS BOARD
Speech delivered by His Excellency, The Military Governor of Kwara State, Colonel D. L. Bamigboye, at the Official Launching of the Kwara State Schools Board in Ilorin, State Capital, on 3/7/72
Civil Commissioners, Distinguised Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here this morning to launch officially the Kwara State Schools Board which came into being on the first day of June, 1972. This is a practical demonstration of the importance which my Government, among other Governments of the Federation, attaches to education.
It is gratifying to see the large assembly here this morning among whom, I understand, are proprietors, education secretaries, chairmen of boards of governors, principals of various grant-aided post-primary institutions and a lot more people from many walks of life. They are all welcome to Ilorin, the State Capital. It is my earnest prayer to wish everyone a pleasant stay in Ilorin and safe journey back home.
I want to start by acknowledging the depth of gratitude we owe to the Voluntary Agencies for the pioneering roles they have so far played in the progress of formal education in Nigeria, most especially in Kwara State.
Brief Historical Review
Some of the earliest primary schools in the country were opened by the Missions in what is today Kwara State. For instance, in 1865 the first primary school was opened at Lokoja. By 1918 similar Voluntary Agency schools were already opened at Offa, at Ilorin and in Ogori. Gradually all the Christian Missions, Muslim Missions and Native Authorities, now Local Government Authorities, and communities became involved in establishing primary schools.
Today we have over 550 primary schools in the State. The Missions, the Native Authorities and the local communities have also contributed a great deal to the development of post-primary education in the State. As at date, there are 78 post- primary schools in the State. Of these only 3 are owned and run directly by the Government while the remaining 65 are Voluntary Agency, Community and private schools. I have gone into this aspect of the history of education in the State to show the value of team work among the Voluntary Agencies. Local communities private interests and the Government in the great task of educating our children. I hope that this tradition of team work will continue.
As many of you know, the proposal to establish Schools Board dated several years back. The National Joint Negotiation Council of 1964 under the distinguished Chairmanship of Justice Adefarasin and the Committee on the Grading Duty Posts in Voluntary Agency Institutions recommended it. Above all, the teachers themselves support it. These are concrete proofs of the desirability of the scheme hence my Government’s spontaneous reaction to it when due for consideration.
Full Scale Consultations
In my last Budget Speech I mentioned the intention of my Government to create the State Schools Board and the Local School Boards. I made good this promise in respect of one when on 18th May, 1972, I signed the Education Law ( Amendment) Edict, which gave birth to the State Schools Board on 1st June, 1972, the official launching of which we are all witnessing here today. The Board comprises seven able personalities, including a woman, to run the affairs of the Voluntary Agency grant-aided post-primary institutions. Before establishing the Board my Ministry of Education went into full scale consultations with the major Voluntary Agency institutions in the six Northern States, namely, the Protestants, the Roman Catholic, and the Islamic bodies as early as February, 1970. I am glad to announce that all the Voluntary Agency and community schools were fully in agreement and that the five “Part-time” members at this Board virtually represent these agencies although they are expected to function as individuals and according to their own best judgement.
Aspects of Education Administration.
While it is the main purpose of the State Schools Board to implement Asabia Recommendations, The Board has come in the nick of time to give concrete expression to Government thinking on certain aspects of the administration of education in this State. Of particular concern to the Government in this regard are the followings needs:-
(a) The need to have job security for teachers in Voluntary Agency Schools.
(b) The need to improve as well as unify service conditions of teachers in all Voluntary Agency Institutions.
(c ) The need for uniformly high standards between Government and Voluntary Agency institutions.
(d) The need to narrow, with the ultimate aim of closing, the gap in educational provision amongst the various areas in the State.
(e) The need to ensure adequate staffing for all schools.
The Edict establishing the Board clearly spelt out the functions of the Board which include ‘power to appoint teachers (including power to make appointments on promotion, conform appointments and effect transfers) and to dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over teachers in all post – primary schools which are in receipt of Government grant-in-aid.
No Schools Takeover Yet.
It is appropriate for me at this juncture to clarify some misgivings about the State Schools Board. The term ‘take-over’ has become very current in our newspapers that it needs to be clarified in respect of our establishment of the Schools Board. I mentioned in my Budget Speech that my Government has not yet decided to take over Secondary Schools. What will now be taken over is the staff management in grant-aided post-primary institutions and NOT the institutions themselves. A total take–over of schools by Government means, among other things, a change in ownership of schools. In this connection, I want to remind the Voluntary Agencies that they are still the owner of their schools and therefore retain the rights over as well as responsibilities for them. For avoidance of doubts, let me mention some of your rights as proprietors under the new dispensation:-
(a) The right of ownership of institutions. Proprietors still retain the greatest of proprietory rights namely, ownership of their grants aided institutions. It should be noted that the existence of the Board will in no way detract from this.
(b) The names of schools remain as given by proprietors.
(c ) Religious orientation and practices in the schools remain generally undisturbed.
(d) The right to nominate Board of Governors with responsibility for the day-to-day management and welfare of the institutions remain unchanged. The Board of Governors will continue to function normally except in regards to staff matters which responsibility is now taken over by the State Schools Board. Finally,
(e) The total tone of the institutions remains the responsibility of the Board of Governors as the main organ of the Proprietors.
Proprietors’ Continued Participation
At this point, I want to emphasize the importance of proprietors’ continued participation. Under the new scheme the institutions whose staff management is being taken over should continue to be virile and progressive with bouyant financial support from community and Missions both for proper maintenance and necessary developments. By this I mean the mistake of the past should not be repeated whereby people misunderstood the role of the Local Education Authorities for ‘a total take-over’ of the transferred schools and consequently washed off their hands financially. I am here reiterating that proprietors still owe large duties to their institutions and these they should continue to discharge through their Boards of Governors, for example:-
the regular maintenance of the school buildings, housing of institutional staff, provisions of school accommodation, the general tone of the institution, appointment of Board’s own administrative staff and anything to do with the academic work of the school, other than teaching staff.
I hope that the Missionary as well, as the community spirits which engendered these institutions will continue to enable them to run without any financial hardship.
Finally I want to remind the State Schools Board of the enormous task ahead of it. I am sure that the Board is fully aware of the various problems which it is set up to solve I expect the Board to give the schools the best services possible and to demonstrate that with prudent management of the existing scale of financial provisions the teachers’ lot can be greatly improved. The Board is set up to improve, standards and services conditions of teachers. It is also its major role to maintain discipline in the noble profession.
In Conclusion, I wish the Kwara State Schools Board many years of useful services to this State and to the country as a whole.