The recent decision by the Delta State government to close down all Lesson Centres across the state in the opinion of the Editorial Board of Ika Weekly Newspaper can be qualified as ill-timed and without guides. It more than anything else, demonstrates a very low ratio of creative leadership strategy or spark of insight needed in modern day public leadership.
Before advancing reasons for the above position, let’s provide yet a more detailed background to what the government says, informed their decision.
Going by media reports, the Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Patrick Ukah stated on Wednesday February 17th 2021, in Asaba, when members of the Delta State Child Right Implementation Committee paid him an advocacy visit, that the decision stemmed from public outcry and allegation of high rates of child abuse by the operators of the centres, noting that most of the centres were operating miracle examination centres and also operate in the day time in contravention of laid down education guidelines for extra mural classes which are supposed to operate purely as evening lessons.
Certainly an ‘objective’ concern especially as it is our collective responsibility to ensure that our children are properly educated at the right time and properly protected particularly from sexual molestation.
Yet, there are key contradictions in the statement that projects Mr. Commissioner’s arguments as confusing, sophistry and ungraspable particularly when faced with embarrassing facts.
In the newspaper’s views, ordering the closure of lesson centers in the state could be likened to curing the effects of an ailment while leaving its root cause to thrive. That private lesson centres thrive in the state is a sign that the state government is failing in its responsibility to providing education opportunities to the knowledge-hungry Deltans.
This becomes even a reality to worry about looking at the statistics released by the state government which puts the number of private lessons centres to about six hundred (600).
This is ridiculous!
If truly the state is willing, ready and eager to protect these young Deltans from sexual abuse/molestation, the Newspaper holds the views that government should be holistic in its approach and closure of private lessons should not be the first step.
Rather, what is expected of a government that is responsible and responsive is to give a priority attention to the provisions of quality and accessible education opportunities to these students in ways that discourages patronage of private lesson centres.
The Newspaper and of course development minded Nigerians are in agreement that it is the inability of the government to do this that fuels the proliferation of private lessons in the state, makes it look attractive and portray the centres as credible alternatives to conventional classrooms.
Without Charcoal, says the Christian Holy Book (the Bible), the fire goes off.
No doubt as soon as the government in the state is alive to its responsibility of providing both quality and accessible education to the teaming youths, the number of private lesson centres in state will not only wane but their days will be numbered. As no right thinking parent/student can reject the former for the later.
Now, let’s look at the end result of state government’s decision if implemented.
Is the state government unaware that such decision to shut down the entire private lesson outlets in the state just because of the activities of some bad eggs among the operators could be similar to the proverbial act of throwing the baby with the bath water or setting an entire building ablaze simply because a rat gained entrance to the building?
Has the state government forgotten that these operators have created for themselves and others employments that they (government at both state and federal levels) failed to make available?
If protection of these youths from sexual molestations is the goal of the state government, then, the newspaper suggests that the government should let the innocent operators be while they (the State Government) sends their monitoring unit after bad elements that presently masquerade as private lesson operator.