By Emmanuel Elebeke
To save Nigeria education system from further collapse and deterioration, His eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie of Lagos Archdiocese has called on government at all levels to return all the mission schools in their possession back to the original owners to enable them revamp them and take them back to their former glory.
The Cardinal who made the call while commissioning a 15 classroom senior school block and laying of the foundation/launching of another 15 classroom block for the junior school block of St. Gregory’s College, Ikoyi Lagos, traced the increasing fall in standard of education in Nigeria to lack of commitment and discipline on the part of government in according education the priority it deserves.
The Cardinal also accused government of not being fair to the development of the nation’s education by not putting in place mechanisms in place that would encourage strict monitoring of its annual budget to the education sector, saying that only transparency and close monitoring of such spendings by various government appointees would guarantee quality development of the nation’s education system.
The Cardinal also blamed parents for abdicating their primary role in giving their wards basic training at home in pursuit of money, just as he questioned the commitment of some teachers who prefer extra moral lessons to their convention class room work
According to him, neither government nor parents had shown enough commitment and seriousness to the development of education in the country, which he said has resulted into continued decay and fall in the standard of education in the country.
He advised the government to hand over the school back to their original owners in the interest of Nigerian children and also give them take off grants that would enable them commence their immediate rehabilitation, and challenged the government to visit those religuished to them by the government in 2001 and compare them with the government schools.
The Lagos Archbishop wondered why the federal government should waste billions of naira to celebrate golden jubilee when the masses have nothing to show it, particularly in the area of infra structural development and promised to transform all the mission schools under his care into role models. On how to inculcate good morals in the students, the Cardinal urged parents and teachers to go back to the basis by giving their wards good upbringing that will prepare them as better leaders of tomorrow.
As public servants, the cardinal Okogie urged those in authority to always get their priority right and avoid engaging in wasteful spending of public funds.
He also used the occasion to advise Nigerian electorates to brace up for the challenge of 2011 elections by ensuring that they get registered and also vote the right candidates during elections.
On her part, the first lady of Lagos Sate, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola said the state government was not unmindful of importance of education and the fall it its standards and assured that the government had risen to occasion with a view to arrest the trend.
Deputy Governor of the state, Mrs. Serah Sosan in her speech commended the church in its efforts at justifying the confidence the government reposed in her in restoring the glory of the schools it took over in 2001 and promised to partner with the church in rebuilding the collapsed system of education in the country, just as she assured the Cardinal of government’s preparedness at returning more schools back to the missions.
Earlier in his welcome address, the administrator of the school, Rev. Msgr. Edmond Akpala described the occasion as a land mark in the development history of the institution.
Recalling the journey since the school was handed over to the church by the Lagos state government in October 2001, Monsignor Akpala said it had been a great and success and achievements in academics, co-curricular activities, spiritually, morally as well as in the area of infrastructure, sports and games.
He said the students’ performance have been quite outstanding, even when others nationwide have had poor results and attributed it to the foresight, encouragement and approval and personal supervision of the Cardinal, who is the proprietor of the school, as well as the technical know-how, planning strategy, cooperation and support by the college projects committee and old students association.
Rev. Akpala used the also thanked the Lagos state government for collaborating with the school in its efforts in giving the school a new face lift and transforming it into a model of excellence.
Highlight of the occasion was laying of the foundation stone of another 15 class room block for the junior classes by the Cardinal and fund raising ceremony.