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NIGERIA COAT OF ARM

FEGO old students seek revamp of unity schools

By Oluwatope Lawanson

The 1996 graduates of the Federal Government College, Ogbomosho, Oyo State have called on the Federal Government to revamp the unity schools located in the different states of the federation.

The old students made the call at the 26th anniversary and reunion celebration, held simultaneously in Ikeja, Lagos connecting Houston, United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK) virtually.

The reunion, which was the first in the 26-years post-graduation has as its theme: “Unity in Diversity”.

Speaking from the UK, Ms Lawunmi Ogedengbe, President of the 1996 Alumni, said that unity, inclusiveness, and diversity were the bedrock of the creation of unity schools in 1966 by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Ogedengbe said that unity schools were melting pot for students with diverse backgrounds came together to learn and remained one of the secrets of Nigeria’s sustained unity.

She took the opportunity to remind the federal government of the need to protect schools if the nation wished to secure its future as the worsening security situation across the country was a cause of concern.

“Unity schools are unique, students that passed through these schools till the end of the last millennium were privileged.

“Though there are 104 such schools, there is a striking similarity in the attitude, behaviour and mindset of the students.

“We are privileged to have attended one of the oldest unity schools, Federal Government College, Ogbomoso, founded in 1977,” she said

FEGO 1996 Set

Mr Gbolahan Ayoola, a FEGO alumnus and a Visual Artist, who had exhibited within and beyond Nigeria, said the state of the unity schools in Nigeria needed more attention.

“It is a shame that parents can hardly send their kids to unity schools, the grace that we enjoyed is fading, back then, attending a unity school helps you meet and interact with people from different parts of the country.

“Unity schools were like a level playing ground where the children of the rich, the influential, and the regular middle-class meet and bond.

“Everyone pays the same school fees and there is no preferential treatment.

“When the standards begin to drop across board, that was when the spring of private schools came in, “Ayoola said.

On the solution to the problem, he said government must first tackle the issue of security.

“You know most of these unity schools are in the remote part of whatever state they are in.

“Hardly can you find a unity school in a state capital, so security is a big deal,” he said.

Mrs Shakirat Raji, another old student and a teacher in a government-owned institution, decried the standard of education available now.

“What we had in the past cannot be compared with what is obtainable now.

“Nowadays, only teachers are blamed for children’s failure, although, in terms of the plethora of ways of learning, children can now learn on their own, anywhere and at any time.

“But when we talk of the quality of knowledge being passed to the next generation, I think we are still far better than what we have now.

“These imbalances can be attributed to four categories of people, the government, the school including the teachers and the management of the school, the students themselves and their parents, and the society.

“The onus is on the educators to make things better, the government is already doing a lot. They provide the schools, and there is free education,” she said.

For Mr Rasheed Jaiyeola, entrepreneur and Chief Executive Officer, Buka Hut, “Many things must change for the dream that the founders had to be sustained.

“If this trajectory continues, some of the unity schools may have to shut down.

“This is one of the major reasons why everyone must take the voting process next year very seriously.

“If we have the right leadership, I am sure the idea behind the establishment of the unity schools initially would be continued.

“We must get the leadership right, so that the education sector can also be transformed,” he said. (NAN)