Benue State Government has closed down no fewer than 2,424 illegal schools in a bid to arrest the falling standard of education.
The Honourable Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar, while speaking to newsmen ordered that primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions within the state that are yet to be approved by the ministry should no longer be operational pending when they get approval.
Prof. Ityavyar disclosed that the mandate of the ministry is to deliver qualitative and functional education to Benue citizens adding that in the discharge of its duties, it has encountered a number of challenges one of which is the proliferation of illegal schools.
His words: “In pursuing our mandate of ensuring that our people have access to qualitative education, we are confronted with the menace of the existence of many schools without the ministry’s approval.”
He added that illegal schools refer to schools that have not been duly certified by the Ministry of Education or have not obtained operational approval for their establishment.
“Illegal schools in our context refer to schools that are yet to obtain phases two (2) and three (3) approvals as in the case of primary and secondary schools, and those without approval of either the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) or National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) in the case of tertiary institutions.”
Prof. Ityavyar decried the negative effects of illegal schools such as poor performance of students in both internal and external examinations, high cases of examination malpractice in schools, production of half-baked graduates, and decay in moral values and norms in the society.
“The decision to embark on the massive closure of illegal schools is a deliberate step towards improving the standard and quality of education in the state.”
“I wish to point out that this initiative is not intended to witch-hunt anyone but to purge the education sector of illegalities and reposition it to attain the nation’s approved standards.”
It would be recalled that in the past such exercises have been embarked upon with little or no success due to vested interests. To this end, the Honourable Commissioner said that it is no longer going to be business-as-usual.
His words: “No school found wanting will be spared as no individual regardless of how highly-placed is above the law. The closure must be enforced and both the state Executive Council and the state House of Assembly have endorsed it.”
He then advised parents of wards of the affected schools to transfer their children to the nearest public school or other approved private schools from the start of the 2017/2018 academic session adding that an enforcement committee comprising of the police, the Department of State Security (DSS), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, traditional rulers, opinion leaders and other stakeholders have been inaugurated to ensure strict compliance.
Patrick Akaa, Makurdi