Wednesday, 9 November 2016

OYO School Violence: Arrest and Detention of Secondary School Students

* Oyo state government should not create more monsters  *For a democratically constituted panel of enquiry to investigate and prescribe an appropriate corrective disciplinary measure for any student found culpable 

                                                                      Press Statement

The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN Oyo State Chapter calls on the Oyo State government to exercise a great caution over the arrest, arraignment in court and subsequent detention of the secondary schools students who allegedly set classrooms on fire at Isale-Oyo Community High School, Oyo town. The affected students allegedly committed the offence during the students’ unrest to protest against the government new promotion policy which led to mass failure of students in the unified examination conducted by the Oyo State ministry of education. This is very important to avoid creating more monsters among secondary schools across the state.
To be cleared, SPN condemns destruction of properties in course of any protest and is not averse to any disciplinary measure against students that are allegedly involved in the dastardly act of burning down classrooms among others. However, it is our concern that such disciplinary measure, which we agree is necessary to serve as a deterrent to others, must have as its focus first and foremost on the need to correct and rehabilitate these students in order to safeguard the future of the state.

Unfortunate, considering the sorry state of police detentions/ custodies and prisons across the country today, we are left with no option than to be worried that the arrest of these students with ages between 12 and 15 and their subsequent arraignment in court which has resulted into continuous detention of some of them at police custody could make them vulnerable to the influence of hardened criminals. Should this happen, it will automatically mean a defeat of the corrective and rehabilitative purpose which should be the central motive for carrying out any disciplinary measure against any students that are culprit of these dastardly acts.
If care is not taken, the arrest and continuous detention of many of these students could create an avenue for them to establish a link with many of the hardened criminals who are often harboured and kept in many police custodies/detentions and prisons across the country. Thus, it may deepen the economically induced potential in these students to take into crime in the nearest future.

Given the huge prospect for future negative implications and consequences inherent in the arrest and continuous detention of these students, SPN is quick to call on the senator Ajimobi/APC-led government in the state to consider the option to review its stance over their prosecution and order for the immediate release of the detained secondary school students with a view to set up a democratic panel of inquiry that will have as members representatives of trade unions ( NLC, TUC , NUT, ASUU, ASUP, NASU, SSANU etc); associations like PTA, NBA, pro-working people civil society organisation as well as government functionaries.

The task of this panel will be first and foremost to investigate the original cause and perpetrators of the dastardly act. This will be with a view to arrive at a consensus as to the kind of disciplinary measure that will be appropriate enough to kick the process to end the growing indiscipline, criminal tendencies and widespread abuse of drug among secondary school students in the state.

More importantly, there is the need for the state government to review its rigid stance on the newly formulated promotion policy which obviously failed to take cognizance of the poor state the public education as a result of gross underfunding and the circumstance under which the examination itself was written. As a matter of fact, we of SPN believe that, it is unfair and immoral for Senator Ajimobi-led government in the state to continue to insist on a new promotion policy which stipulates among other things that only students who score 50% in five major subjects including English and Mathematics will transit to the next class. This is because the same Senator Ajimobi-led government like its predecessors has performed poorly even below 10% in term of adequate funding of education which is the root cause of most of the crisis bedeviling education sector in the state. Besides, the students had a few weeks of lecture because of long closure by the state government such that they could not adequately prepare for the promotional examinations.

SPN therefore maintains that if the Ajimobi-led Oyo state government is truly serious about academic excellence, then it must allocate adequate resources that will ensure provision of facilities and motivated teaching staff for quality public education. This is what can help begin to reverse the sorry state of public education in the state.

The SPN also calls on the workers unions in education sector in the state particularly NUT, ASUU, ASUP, COEASU; NASU, SSANU, ANCORPS etc including PTA to immediately convene and organize a conference of stakeholders like teachers, principals, parents, pupils as well as pro-education civil society organizations to review the general situation in the public education including the controversy surrounding the new promotion policy.

This kind of conference could also provide an avenue to collate and harness the concerns and anger of every stakeholder in the education sector including that of the protesting secondary school students with a view to agree on non-violent and legitimate tactic and strategies to kick-start a save public education campaign in the state. The continuous absence of this kind of initiative no doubt created a state of hopelessness and frustration that had largely forced many victims of the attacks on public education particularly students to resort to different forms of unguided and premature self-help which had resulted into avoidable destruction of valuable properties.

Except the initiative of this kind of conference is undertaken, more and more examples of the kind of violent and destructive self-help which had led to destruction of classrooms in no fewer than 7 seven secondary in Oyo state is likely to continue to be seen in the coming period. The most unfortunate aspect of this kind of destructive action is that it will provide the state government justification to continue to carry out all forms of onslaughts and clamp down with little or no room for a collective resistance on the democratic rights of the victims of its failure and abdication of its responsibilities.
Abiodun Bamigboye (Abbey Trotsky)
Secretary, SPN, Oyo State Chapter

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