By Stephen Adeleye.
The Kogi Government has solicited the support of heads of Police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence (NSCDC) for the implementation and enforcement to shut down all illegal schools operating across the state.
The state’s Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Rosemary Osikoya, made the call when she visited Kogi Commissioner of Police, Mr Hakeem Busari, and the State’s Commandant of NSCDC, Mr Ayodele Philip, in their separate offices in Lokoja.
Osikoya said that the state government had concluded plans to address the issue of illegal schools operating in Kogi, saying the enforcement action was included in the 2019 state’s education budget.
”Kogi State has high number of schools that are not registered. We have created window of opportunities for all schools to be fully registered and uploaded their profiles on the ministry’s website.
”So, we will need the cooperation and support of the NSCDC and Police for enforcement action to shut down all illegal schools operating in the state.
”We are proposing to set up a task force and enforcement committee for effective implementation and ensure total compliance.
”Any school that fails to meet the minimum requirements for school operations in the state between now and the end of August would be shut down in September 2019,” she said.
Osikoya also called for the deployment of adequate security personnel to exam centres for the ongoing Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) across the state, to ensure vigilance and safety.
”We have over 800 Junior Secondary Schools currently participating in the ongoing BECE which commenced on Monday, and we need your support to ensure adequate security.
”The ministry has sent out state monitors, supervisors and evaluators to monitor the ongoing NECO and BECE examination across the state.
”We want to ensure their safety in carrying out their responsibilities without any intimidation or harassment,” she said.
She also called for full investigation and prosecution of all those involved in examination malpractice and security bridge during the 2018 WAEC examination in Kogi.
She explained an instance in a school in Okene LGA where one of the ministry’s officials was attacked with cutlass within the school premises.
While commending the police for investigating the matter, she urged them to give the matter all the seriousness it deserved.
She commended the NSCDC boss for the deployment of their men to examination centres in the ongoing NECO examination across the state, while calling for continuous collaboration and more support.
Osikoya stressed that the idea to synergise with the security agencies was to discourage students from engaging in any form of examination malpractice, but to study harder to merit their certificate.
In their separate responses, both Busari, the police commissioner, and Philip, the NSCDC Commandant, assured the state government of their continuous support and collaboration when needed.
Busari said: ”We are ready to support you anytime you make any request in any area you need our service; we are ready to collaborate with you and support you.
”To also investigate any other matter that requires investigation and make sure offenders are prosecuted. We will also support the enforcement to shut down all illegal schools in Kogi”.
On his part, Philip said: ”I want to assure you that your visit today is welcomed and very encouraging.
”I promise you that NSCDC will synergise and collaborate with you to serve you officially and unofficially in the state to the glory of God and humanity.
The commissioner earlier visited some private and public schools in Lokoja to monitor the ongoing BECE examination, where she urged school managers to ensure compliance with curriculum standard at all times.
Schools visited were Saint Luke Schools, Adankolo, and Alhikma Science College, Lokongoma, among others.
The principal of Alhikma Science College, Mallam Yusuf Obansa, commended the commissioner for her efforts in transforming education sector in the state, and for organising training for teachers and school managers on capacity building.