The national leadership of the King’s College Old Boys’ Association (KCOBA) has called on the Senate to urgently cause its Committee on Education to investigate and review the current management model for Federal Unity Colleges in the country in order to save them from total collapse.
The National Secretary of KCOBA, Mr. Lucky Idike, according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President, Sanni Onogu, made the plea when the leaders of the association visited the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki – an Old Boy of the prestigious institution – in Abuja.
Idike lamented the present crisis bedeviling secondary education in the country which he attributed to the failure of the current management model in terms of lack of requisite infrastructure, teaching capacity, funding, security, guidance and counseling, pastoral care and educational output.
He decried the deteriorating security situation at the Unity Colleges which resulted in the killing of 59 children at the Federal Government College (FGC) Buni Yadi, Yobe State, by suspected Boko Haram insurgents in 2014 while two children were killed and four others injured by unknown gunmen at FGC Kano also in 2014.
According to KCOBA Scribe, the FGC Okposi, Ebonyi State also suffered the loss of two children who were abducted and killed by ritualists in 2016, even as three children died as a result water-borne illnesses at the Queen’s College, Lagos early this year.
He urged the Senate to urgently mandate its Committee on Education to review the current management model for Federal Unity Colleges in the country in order to stem the tide and put the institutions back on the track of excellence for which they were once reputed.
He stated that the KCOBA, Queen’s College Old Girls’ Association (QCOGA) and the Unity Schools Old Students’ Association (USOSA) are ready to work with the Senate Committee and other stakeholders to chart a new course for secondary education in the country.
The KCOBA’s Scribe thanked the Senate President for his “effective leadership of the Nigerian Senate” and expressed the pride of the KCOBA on the many achievements of the 8th Senate under his leadership. He also thanked the Senate President for the renovation work he is sponsoring within the school premises as he called for more to be done.
In his response, the Senate President thanked the KCOBA for their support to the 8th Senate so far and pledged to continue to uphold the values of excellence instilled in him during his days at the King’s College, Lagos.
He noted that there was a real crisis in the secondary education sector, particularly as it affects the Unity Colleges and said that Senate already commenced action to block identified loopholes in the system.
He said the Senate would soon organize a stakeholders forum to design a roadmap that would help improve the fortunes of education in the country.
Saraki said: “You have raised a number of issues today and one would not have expected less from KCOBA on major issues that concerns all of us and that is the state of education in the country.
“Just a few weeks ago the Queens College Old Girls Association were following a pathetic and very sad situation – the loss of lives that we saw in Queen’s College.
“Luckily, following the visits we have been able to do a couple of interventions. We have been able to see that in the 2017 budget money has been appropriated to address the infrastructure and we hope that work will start on that soon.
“Secondly, we also directed the Senate Committee on Education to investigate and find out what really happened and if there are people that were responsible, they must be prosecuted.
“I don’t think it is acceptable for us to just gloss over those kind of irresponsible acts leading to the loss of lives of very young people and the Senate hopes to follow that through and ensure that sanctions are meted out to those responsible.
“On the back of that, we are in the process of organizing a public discussion with all key stakeholders on what we have to do not only as it regards the unity schools but also as regards education in general and I am sure that will come up very soon.
“I think there are two issues here. One is the right of every Nigerian child to education and then there is the issue of excellence in our education. These two issues have to be discussed simultaneously,” he said.