Edo Govt Meets Students’ Reps Over Protest at Igueben College

Officials of the Edo Government have met with the representatives of the students at the State College of Education, Igueben campus, to resolve the issue that led to the Feb. 10 protest which paralysed activities in the school.

The students embarked on the protest to express their ill feelings over the ongoing restructuring of the three campuses of the institution by the government.

Mr Famous Akiowu, the President of the Students’ Union Government (SUG) in the college, led other students’ leaders to the Ministry of Education for the meeting over the weekend.

He attributed their grievances to the decision of the management to cancel the admission of all the year one students and close the school for restructuring.

Akiowu expressed dismay that the students admitted, subsequent to an advertisement by the school, were being directed to return home while their school fees and other charges would be refunded.

He noted that all efforts to seek clarification from the relevant quarters proved abortive as none of the letters written was attended to.

But briefing newsmen after a closed-door meeting with the students’ leaders, which lasted for hours, Dr Joan Osa-Oviawe, the Commissioner for Education, apologised to the students, blaming the crisis on communication gap.

Osa-Oviawe, who was joined at the briefing by some commissioners, the students’ leaders and the acting provost of the college, asserted that the government had before the start of the reform in 2017, directed all campuses to phase out their existing students.

“They should go through all the processes and graduate; don’t bring in new ones.

“But for whatever reason, this continues to be a recurring decimal at Igbueben campus, even to the long-term potential detriment of this wishes of the community itself,” she said.

The commissioner, however, explained that the concern of the students as regards whether the year II and III students will graduate or their education will be truncated had been resolved.

“So fortunately for all concerned, the year III students are expected to graduate, by the normal school calendar, on the Feb. 18, while the year II students are expected to finish by September of this year.

“The other issue of the prospective students, we have explained to the students what the stand of the government is.

“We have asked the acting provost to come back with the accurate number of prospective students with their payment because it is clear what they have paid.

“What is very clear that I will like to emphasise from the point of view of the ministry of education and by extension, the Edo State Government is that we are reforming pre-serving teacher education in Edo state.

“That is what led to the repelling of the law that established the whole colleges of education and new colleges were created, re-organising the schools.

“In the past, every college offered all the programmes and they never had the money to actually provide quality teaching.

“We are now saying let’s streamline; focus on an area. Igbueben is the main campus and it is going to focus on training of secondary school teachers as well as technical and vocational teachers.

“Abudu is one of the campuses and it will focus on training of early childhood education teachers and basic education teachers.

“Finally, Afuze campus is all about physical and health education as well as special education.

“If we are streamlining this way, we are also building synergy with the respective boards that manage the different levels of non-tertiary education.

“State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) will be able to provide Abudu with information on the number of vacancies they are going to have at any given year and this will allow Abudu to effectively advise students on what area to specialise in.

“If SUBEB is telling Abudu that they only have vacancies for 300 students, why should it be training 1,000 students?

“If they want to train 1,000, it should be clear what pathway to employment these students are going to have. The same thing applies to all campuses.

“So, the issue of these prospective students that are waiting at Igueben, the government wants to be very clear. At the end of the day, we want to do what is best for the repositioning of teacher education in Edo.

“A lot of investments have already gone into it and we are not going to allow unnecessary mischief-making derailing that,” said the commissioner.

She assured the students, however, that moving forward; the government would engage them directly and ensure that the remaining part of their educational experience at the school was a pleasant one.

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