HOW conscious are we of the need to take the safety and security of our young school children seriously? Is there any workable mechanism to keep our children safer in our public and private schools? How can we ensure that our children who leave for school will return in one piece and in peace?
These questions arise from the frequent tragic incidents and accidents which have led to avoidable losses of our children in and around school environments.
In November last year, the death of 13-year-old Sylvester Oromoni, a student of Dowen College, Lekki in Lagos, shook the country. He was a victim of school bullies. Till date, bullying, which is an age-old vice in secondary schools, has not been tamed. Some of our children have had to pay with their tender lives for it. Teachers routinely mercilessly beat children under their care. Some have died after such ordeals. Teachers rape innocent children in their care, and pre-teen and teenage students engage in porn sex as recently witnessed with Chrisland School students in a viral video.
Some weeks ago, a five-year-old child, Chidera Eze, was drowned during a swimming lesson in Redeemers Nursery and Primary School, Ogba Lagos. It turned out that the school had not been fully okayed to operate.
The latest of the series of tragic accidents concerning tender minors was the suffocation of two school pupils at Aguda area of Lagos due to the callous insensitivity of the driver, Odunsa Mandala. The driver acted as if he was not bound by any regulatory or even humane sense of duty.
Some of these tragic events leave one wondering whether there is any serious mechanism in our educational system to keep school proprietors and administrators to a set of ethical imperatives. Sequel to the death of little Chidera, the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Folasade Adefisayo, announced the closure of the Redeemers school for an investigation as to whether it had conducted itself in accordance with “the schools’ safety standards and guidelines for education institutions” in Lagos.
How frequently are schools inspected? Schools inspection, just like taxation, traffic control, building code administration and others, are crucial acts of governance. It is the weakness in these acts of core governance that has led to the laissez faire attitude of school administrators which sometimes leads to avoidable loss of lives.
In line with the United Nations Safe Schools initiative which arose from the Chibok school girls abduction in April 2014, we must take the safety of our children at school very seriously. Frequent school inspections and zero tolerance to sloppy implementation are key.
Let our children not go to school hale and hearty and return as dead bodies. We must protect them.