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*Nigeria: The Return of Schools in Anambra State
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state recently handed over some elementary and secondary schools to their original owners: principally the Catholic and Anglican missions. The citizens and well-wishers of Anambra State cannot thank the governor enough for this. It is just like delivering Anambrarians from a demonic bondage to which we had been subjected to since the post war forceful take-over of the schools by the military regimes on the premise that religion breeds religious politics and would create unfavourable structural divisions in the country.
It must be noted that the ban of religious doctrines in schools affected morality. The consequences are debasement of morals and disciplines in Christian schools. Thus, favorable environment was created by politicians and businessmen in their quest for wealth, and their insensible display of this ill-gotten wealth. Hence, all sorts of crimes, ranging from fraud or 419 to armed robbery, kidnapping, prostitution, unbridled marital infidelities, proliferation of abortions, lack of respect for elders and for authorities, lack of reverence even for the clergy, ritual killings, political assassinations and even apathy to academic activities thrived.
All erupted like a volcanic explosion. Girls sell themselves to teachers and lecturers to pass their examinations, and boy's monetize their ways out, or terrorize their way through with cult formations. These are Christians from all the denominations, with no exception whatsoever. The dividends are low quality basic education and therefore low quality higher education for which many oversea institutions, to which we very much depend for scientific and technological advancement, now reject our certificates. There is therefore no sacrifice too great to make to reverse this abysmal state of affairs. Thus, Gov. Obi should be given undiluted kudos for handing over schools to missions. ( Continues below….. )
However, one appreciates the apprehensions of some trade unionists in unfortunately opposing this well-meant development. Mission schools had never been good paymasters. Their guiding principal is principally profit. The fees are often astronomically high. We therefore would not expect that the mission schools should not make their own profit, but it should not be such as to disenfranchise children from Christian education, thus driving them back to private institutions where religion cannot safely be taught without facing antagonism from one denomination or the other. Thank God the state government is committed to checking such excesses by missions. Thank God also that government has accepted to pay the teachers in such mission schools.
One also would not like to see a situation where mothers teaching in these schools are not recognized as having dual divine responsibilities, one to the schools and the other to their homes.
The trade unionists should quietly and purposely discuss these issues with the government and the missions, rather than throwing up threats of strike as the first line of action. No doubt, much can be achieved through dialogue. Embarking on strike on this issue is a disservice to the educational, moral, and disciplinary wellbeing of our children as the leaders of tomorrow. Unions should please not rob us of this gem. It is not acceptable, and the missions must also think twice about the welfare of their employees to conform to modern norms and practices.
Joseph Aku, Ekwulobia, Anambra State
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