The Permanent Secretary, Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board, Alhaji Bayo Onimago, tells Tunde Oyekola that the state government will only accept the books if Saraki’s photographs are removed from the covers of the textbooks and the exercise books
How did the Ministry of Education get to know that instructional materials were being distributed to schools in Kwara Central Senatorial zone by the office of Senator Bukola Saraki?
We got to know about the materials through the school principals, head masters and the Education Secretaries of the LGEA in the Kwara Central Senatorial Zone who called to inform us about the materials. We were never in the picture.
But the office claimed that the ministry was aware of the materials prior to the time of the distribution as it said that it collaborated with the LGEA offices which are directly in charge of basic schools in the four local government councils for capturing of schools during the NEEDS assessment it conducted. It also said that it informed the LGEA offices to invite selected schools for the distribution of the materials. Is this true?
The LGEA Education Secretaries did not have any collaboration with the office in the distribution of the materials and neither was there any formal letter written to that effect.
The office also claimed that the standard of the instructional materials is in line with the standard of Universal Basic Education across the country, do you agree that the standard of the materials to be distributed meets this standard?
The instructional materials distributed are Mathematical Science Kits, textbooks, notebooks and school bags which may be described as sub-standard while the textbooks are not in line with the present school curriculum approved by the state Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development. For instance, the Mathematics textbook they shared is different from what was recommended by SUBEB in collaboration with the UBEC. We clearly cannot tolerate such in the interest of our institutions and, of course, the future of the children.
On the emblazon of Saraki’s picture on the materials, his office claimed it was in line with the MDAs standard and quoted the one used for President Muhammadu Buhari in SDGs and UBEC. Do you agree with this?
We do not agree because Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board did not receive any instructional materials with picture of President Buhari from Universal Basic the Education Commission. Anybody can print anything and put the pictures of the President there. You may see this anywhere. But what we are saying is that at no point did we receive any such materials for distribution in our schools. And as the Ministry of Education recently remarked in a statement, the governor himself has repeatedly rejected the printing of public school materials with his picture on them and this is something everyone must commend and emulate.
Do you agree that the ministry had misconception on the distribution of the materials and that government has introduced politics into it since it is coming from the major opposition party in the state?
No. The ministry does not have misconception about the instructional materials distributed, but the distribution did not follow due process. It neither passed through the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development nor Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board.
Do you agree that government has no sufficient reasons to reject the instructional materials considering the values that it would add to the lives of the pupils?
We certainly do not agree. The distribution of the instructional materials to schools at this time is mere political and has not added value to the education of the students and pupils. This is more so when those materials were those they ought to have distributed since 2018. I think it is safe if we don’t bring politics into educational matters.
What are the conditions to meet to make government accept the instructional materials from Saraki’s office since it claimed that the materials are constituency project produced with government fund?
The conditions to be met to make the government accept the materials is to channel it through the appropriate quarters, that is, through the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development and Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board where the quality of materials will be duly accessed if it’s of the standard before any donation or distributions. Also, the materials should not carry any political insignias.