Anything published in the press and which remains unchallenged is a notorious fact – Reno Omokri, The Great
A friend of mine sent my last post on the closure of schools in Ekiti to the Commissioner for Education in that state, Dr Eniola Ajayi.
She responded by email and asked me to get in touch with her. We’ve exchanged a few emails since then and I have found her to be polite to a fault and a remarkably decent person to the extent that you can measure such things over an email exchange.
Here’s her response
Thank you for forwarding the story. I do not blame the writer for writing from the perspective he did. It’s because of the angle in which it was reported in the first place.It seems truly absurd to close a school simply because it’s not registered or it’s not on zillion hectares of land. The truth is that no mention was made of the other criteria used. One main component is the issue of having a certain number of qualified Teachers. Some of the School have a School Certificate holder as Head teacher. There are several other criteria. In other to make this exercise as thorough as possible, we engaged the help of the National Association of Private Proprietors in Ekiti State. In their words, ‘we have no apologies for the schools you wish to close down’. The truth is that many of them do not merit being called a school.
The structures are truly alarming. Some are near collapse. If we wait until someone dies in those contraptions, I will be blamed even more.
More importantly, it’s an implementation of a well thought out decision of the State EXCO over 7 months ago.
She also sent me the requirements for opening schools in Ekiti State which the closed schools presumably did not meet. Both are attached below
It was a relief to read that not because I agree with everything but mainly because it’s clear that it wasnt just a rampaging government going about bullying private schools while ignoring its own failings.
I still think the requirements are rather onerous and dont take into account people who might only want to start on a small scale but if everyone was subjected to this criteria, then I am fine with it. The issue then becomes how to make the criteria better so that it guarantees better outcomes for students.
A couple of points to note
1. Before writing my last note, I checked at least 3 different online news websites for the story and they all seemed to report it from the same angle so I went with the version in Channels but you can check the Punch version or ThisDay one and you see that the reports are almost identical in what aspect of the press briefing they focused on.
It got me wondering – how do Nigerian newspapers source their news? Or was this a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report? I am not sure how things work so I am genuinely curious. Or do newspapers now share journalists outside Lagos?
I suppose we can conclue that the reports in the papers on this story qualifies as a notorious fact if the Commissioner is to be believed.
2. Where two or three Nigerian business(wo)men/businesses are gathered, a cabal is soon formed. So I am wondering if this National Association of Private Proprietors in Ekiti is not another ‘nascent’ cabal.
I am pretty sure the schools that were closed were not members of this body which might mean the NAPP has just been made stronger to the extent that anyone who doesnt join them (and pay dues) can easily be eliminated as competition.
The thing with cabals is that they always start innocently so in this case private school owners may have come together to form a body to share knowledge and best practice etc. But as Adam Smith presciently said ‘people of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public‘.
What if you dont want to be a part of this body and you just want to do your thing on your own? Hopefully the govt will take such scenarios into account and protect people who are genuinely trying to deliver education and run a business at the same time…on their own merit.
But all in all, it’s always good to hear govt’s side of the argument.