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EMERITUS Professor Ayo Banjo, in his autobiography, sums up the very rich history and illustriousness of the Government College, Ibadan. He wrote: “The school had produced, and was destined to produce, illustrious Nigerians, including an Oba of Benin who had gone from Government College, Ibadan, to King’s College, Cambridge; academics of the quality of Muyiwa Awe, another product of Cambridge; Mololu Olunloyo, a First Class Honours graduate and winner of gold medal from the ancient University of St. Andrews, Scotland; and, of course, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature, Wole Soyinka. It also has to be said that one star who emerged from one of the classes that I taught at the time was Femi Osofisan, who in later years became a prize-winning dramatist and essayist.”
The school with the above feat has, however, progressively decayed over the years. This is because, governments, it is generally believed, are not the best managers of educational institutions. This much is evident in many government-run institutions at all levels, including missionary schools taken over by governments.
In almost all cases, institutions run by governments grapple with infrastructural deficit, paucity of quality teachers, low supervision, anti-social conducts among students, poor student-teacher ratio and the resultant low academic performance.
For the Government College, Ibadan, the decline in standards began four decades ago when the then Oyo State government took over the school’s management and lumped it with other public secondary schools.
Among other things, competitive entrance examinations were deemphasised and, as a result, enrolment rose sharply by over 1000 percent while teacher-pupil ratio shot up from 1:25 to 1:100 or even more.
Now, effects of these have been evident over the years as the college has gradually lost its bite as its infrastructure deteriorated and academic standard plummeted – or at best stagnated.
But it appears that things are about to change for the college as the Oyo State government recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government College Ibadan Old Boys Association (GCIOBA) for the transfer of the management, operation and development of the school to the association.
The agreement followed the association’s request to manage the school in order to sustain its legacy. The agreement grants the old students the authority to manage the college for a period of 25 years.
The association will be responsible for the provision of additional infrastructure, improvement of existing ones, provision of security with the assistance of the state government as well as employment and payment of competent staff.
GCIOBA is expected to provide modern teaching aids that will enhance the standard of education and sustain the free education policy of the Seyi Makinde administration by not charging tuition fees – except for boarding and feeding in cases of students who reside on the school premises.
The association is also expected to absorb existing teaching and non-teaching staff posted to the college, and not discriminate against absorbed staff and those in the service of the state government.
According to the agreement, GCIOBA is expected to, within two years of the execution of the agreement, provide evidence of new infrastructure either completed or ongoing; undertake continuous and regular maintenance of existing infrastructure and undertake the training and capacity building for the teaching staff.
A board of trustees is to be set up for the school comprising nominees from the state government, GCIOBA and the parent-teacher association.
At the signing of the agreement, which was witnessed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun; the Commissioner for Education, Abdulrahman Abdulraheem and the Incorporated Trustees of GCIOBA led by the president of the association, Dr Wale Babalakin, the state government said it handed over the administration of the school to the old boys after realising that the state would need over N40 billion to even bring the education sector to meet minimum standards.
The SSG, Adeosun, said the state, through the agreement, was initiating a process that would ensure the state gets the best from the education sector.
She said a study conducted by the Makinde government upon assumption of office in 2019 indicated that the state government needed over N40 billion to take the education sector to minimum standards.
She said it was clear from the beginning that the state could not do it alone.
She said: “If you have been following Oyo State when this administration came on board, we had four cardinal points and education is one of them. So, education is very key to us. And I think when the first assessment was done, what was needed to even bring our educational sector up to the basics was over N40 billion.
“We were very clear from the beginning that we would not do this alone.
“Also, when we looked at the various bodies that could assist us in making us realise our objectives, the Old Boys Association was one of them.”
She expressed the hope that GCIOBA would bring the school to a standard that other schools would follow, adding that the agreement was a pilot scheme that the state hoped would bring the best to its education sector.
On his part, the president of GCIOBA, Dr Babalakin, said the trustees were happy to pull through the agreement, promising that old students would bring about a massive transformation of the school such that it would be the envy of other schools in the country.
The agreement to hand over GCI is in line with the intentions of the school’s governing board which aims to encourage public/private involvement in the management of the school.
In a recent lecture entitled ‘Role of Alumni Associations in Revival of Public Education in Nigeria’, a former presidential spokesperson and journalist, Olusegun Adeniyi, described alumni associations as critical stakeholders if the nation’s education sector is to be reformed.
Adeniyi stressed that alumni associations must be keen to provide basic learning tools such as libraries, computers, and books. He also noted that the government must partner with relevant alumni associations to assist them in implementation of their education policies and reforms.
To correct the malaise in the nation’s education sector, old students’ associations are becoming the last resort for government. A one-time General Secretary of the King’s College Old Boys Association, Mr Ladi Lawanson, noted that with the falling standards and decaying facilities in schools, old students’ associations have to provide hope and support for the present crop of students in schools.
Such associations are expected to promote the best interests of their alma maters and the education sector at large. Old students are expected to engage with their alma maters as role models, mentors, work experience providers and trusted advisers.
With the MOU signed with the Oyo State government, the task before GCIOBA is well cut out. The association has also agreed to key into the free education policy of the Seyi Makinde administration and not charge students tuition fees.
In showing commitment to developing the infrastructure of the school, the vice president of the association, Tola Obembe, said the old boys had expended over N2 billion on the affairs of the school.
Although the agreement is that the old boys will manage the GCI for a period of 25 years, an evaluation of the ability of the old students to manage the school will be done after two years.
Some stakeholders have lauded the Oyo State government/GCIOBA MOU but the parties will, in the next two years, be keen to evaluate the extent to which the takeover has helped the school.
A former Attorney-General of Oyo State, Adebayo Ojo, and a critic of the Makinde government described the decision of the state government to hand over GCI to its old boys as commendable.
Ojo said in a Facebook post that the move was the way to go in view of dwindling government revenue.
f you are a private sector, you’re producing something, certainly, you need to know the population of an area if you want to create a market there.
“So, census data is very crucial, very important because the data we’ve been using are just projections, estimation and are sort of obsolete. We need the actual census data to use for our planning.“
Also speaking, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the Council of State approved 159 out of 162 applications presented for consideration for the prerogative of mercy for convicts and inmates in correctional centres.
According to sources close to the meeting, among the applications rejected was that of former Managing Director of defunct Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, who was sentenced to 120 years for stealing over N25 billion.
He was said to have applied for pardon due to a life-threatening illness he is battling with.
The second person who had his application rejected was convicted for forgery and sentenced to 14 years out of which he has so far done one year and six months in prison.
The third person was convicted for obtaining money by false pretence and sentenced to seven years in prison.
The Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru, on his part disclosed that Buhari will meet security chiefs on Tuesday next week over the worsening security situation following recommendations and comments by the Council of State.
In his contribution, the Minister of Special Duties, George Akume, said the Council approved the conferment of the National Honours Award on 434 Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in their various field of endeavours.
At the meeting, members observed a minute silence in honour of the former head of Interim government Ernest Shonekan who died on January 11, 2022.
Apart from Buhari, the meeting was attended by former leaders including Generals Yakubu Gowon and Abdulsalami Abubakar and Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
Membership of the Council includes; the President, Vice President, past presidents, Senate President, House of Representatives Speaker Chief Justice of Nigeria, serving and past; Attorney General of the Federation, all State Governors and the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT).