By Idowu Ariwodola
Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti on Monday said parents who keep their school-age children out of school run the risk of being prosecuted.
Speaking in Eporo during an enrolment sensitisation campaign, Fayemi called on all parents and guardians to key into his administration’s free education programme.
The governor, who stressed that the state’s Child Rights Law provided that all children must be given access to education, added that acting contrary to this was unlawful.
The Ekiti government had last week commenced the school enrolment campaign aimed at ensuring that all school-age children register for the forthcoming 2019/2020 academic session.
The governor said that it was an abuse of a child’s right for any parent or guardian to deny school-age children the opportunity to go to school under any guise
He said the state government was currently providing free but quality education which parents must embrace to build a solid foundation for their children and wards.
“We have a Child Rights Act in Ekiti which prohibits parents from disallowing children of school age to be out of school during school session.
“If your child is not in school when the school is in session, you have a lot to explain because we will apprehend the child whether he is found hawking on the street or engaging in any illicit activities which prevent him or her from being in school.
“The parents will also have to explain to the government or the relevant institutions why that child is not in school.
“In implementing the law, we have a family court in the state that takes responsibility for children that are not in school and parents who fail in their responsibility,’’ Fayemi said.
He pledged his administration’s commitment to restoring the state to its pride of place as the fountain of knowledge.
The governor said his administration had provided instructional materials, furniture and a conducive learning environment where teachers could effectively contribute to the growth and development of their pupils.
Fayemi said his administration was opposed to the collection of fees in all public primary and secondary schools in the state, stressing that any teacher or head-teacher caught collecting school fees from pupils would be seen as collecting a bribe.
“For us in Ekiti, it is not enough to say we have free education. We need to enlighten our people, particularly those in the rural communities on the importance of education and the necessity for their wards to be enrolled.
“This is because education is also compulsory in our state, and we are doing this for basic education level because we have experienced some challenges in the last four years in the state.
“Enrolment figures in the state used to be the highest in the country up till 2014, and then we suffered a decrease in enrolment, according to UBEC’s national figure.
“We have a duty as a government to ensure that we get the figure back to where it used to be in order to build the foundation that is solid for our children.
“I think we have a duty to ensure that we don’t just encourage them to come to school but also provide everything to make sure education is pay-less for them.
“We are providing instructional materials and the school feeding that we now offer in primary school and encouraging teachers to deliver competently.
“Also, we are working on the school environment because it is not just the teacher’s quality, but also the learning environment that contributes to the growth and development of the average child.
“You cannot put children in an environment where they can’t learn properly because they have no table and chairs, no fence to protect the school premises.
” The teachers don’t have all they need in terms of maintaining discipline, there is an entire gamut of responsibilities that we have as parents,’’ the governor said.
He urged parents to enroll their wards in public schools because of the qualified teaching personnel, adding that the free education being enjoyed by Ekiti children was in return for the tax being paid by citizens.
Earlier, the Chairman, State Universal Basic Education Board, Prof. Fransisca Aladejana, had urged parents to enroll their children and wards in public schools because of their qualified and competent teachers as well as conducive learning environment.
The South-West Zonal Director of UBEC, Mrs Mudubi Roseline, called on political and religious leaders to sensitise the people on the importance of enrolling their school-age children this school session. (NAN)