Wednesday 14 June 2017

Ilesa Grammar School: The Enduring Legacy of Aregbesola in Education- By 'LAYINKA ISHOLA

From the start to the end, I read with shock the impetuous and ill-conceived diatribe against the educational policy of Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola of the State of Osun, in an article titled “The Sad Fate Of Ilesa Grammar School, Ilesa: How Aregbesola Destroyed A Legacy” by one Mr Remi Oyeyemi published in an online website, Newsdiary. In the piece, the writer laboured hard to tag his perceived prey as wicked for erasing time-spent historical legacy of Ilesa Grammar School, Ilesa. His subjective allegation does not have fathom footing in objectivity.

The school in question was founded over 70 years ago and has produced great minds in the society. Truth to the writer’s claim that the governor refused appeals from well-meaning elders of the school not to rebuild the school’s structure even in its dilapidated state was a great disservice to Ilesa community by the writer. The governor did not refuse an overture as claimed by the writer but only saw reason for an enduring legacy which many born and unborn Ijeshas will appreciates in the future. How could someone who claimed he has travelled wide still reveling in past glory, even when the alma mater had fallen into disgrace and disrepute?

Over the years the structures of the Ilesa Grammar school has almost lost physical standing compared to what is expected of a school whose name has created a legacy close to none in Ilesa.

A school that was built years ago with less than 1,000 populations but rebuilt to enroll 3,000 students and yet the writer wants such old order to remain. If not for the veil of hatred for good development, he should have known that functionality of such structures when they were built cannot service the present challenge in the educational system. I think it is nauseating and repulsive for anyone to say Ilesa does not deserve an educational facility of such.  The present crops of students being dish out these days in the public schools have same public space to operate with their counterpart in private schools. So you cannot expect a student who learn under a horrific atmosphere performs in equal capacity with one in serene environment.

From the beginning of civilisation until now education has been the major propellant behind man’s voyage in all spheres of life. We all can testify to the spectacular jump in human knowledge and its applications particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries. No doubt, one enduring aspect of education is the structures put in place and the educational policy of present administration is gear towards Mega School pattern. Ilesa High School is built to accommodate more than 3,000 students with world class facilities in place. One wondered if Mr Oyeyemi failed to see that this structure would in no small measure meet the global educational system but for odious reason impishly turned a blind eye.

It is however worrisome for likes of Mr Oyeyemi to live in ignorance of the many successes recorded by Aregbesola’s government in education which includes distribution of school uniforms and free fees for the primary and post-primary schools, hiring over 10,000 teachers and providing 150,000 computer tablets to senior pupils and their teachers. Do not forget that elementary pupils now enjoy free feeding and medication in all public schools, to which the government commits N3.6 billion every year. Grants to schools were jacked up to N856 million from the N122 million inherited from previous administration.

It now behooves on the writer to be empirical when discussing issue as related to public interest. Rather than gunning for historical landmarks as against serene environment of learning shows height of insensitivity by the writer to the students who are directly affected by the old dilapidated structures with no teaching aids and basic facilities.

Repeatedly, this administration has said that to get our education right is not a task that we should be playing politics with and wrongly misinformed gullible public. Because a country’s destiny is inextricably linked with the quality of education that it citizens receive which structures in place contribute immensely to. The Legacy of these schools are in their names and therefore expected that the structures develop to match up with their names unless we want our schools to only serve as tourist centres. We must develop structures to suit the students and make learning better and conducive.

One of the pedestrian debates experiencing in our education today is the sentiment and emotional voyage Mr Oyeyemi enumerated in his tirade seeking to turn what ordinarily should be educational origin to tourism site. It is sickening to see that we are bent on making education totally irrelevant such as it is postulated. Developing a functional pool of trained intelligence through structural development that will drive the building of a virile nation is a daunting and time consuming exercise which unfortunately never ends at historical value.

The governor, being a student of history, does not wish to erase the memory of any school either in historical or knowledge capacity. However, rebuilding was done in honest factor to aid learning and see to what is obtainable in other climes. Today, Plato’s Academy no longer exists, but it is etched permanently in the books, in the philosophy and the memory of those who have acquired western education.

What is more important, however, is its intellectual legacy and how it has affected our time and society. Those still sulking over the carcass of a dilapidated and ruined physical structure should let go and embrace positive change.

It is not in doubt Aregbesola has carried out a revolution in education in Osun. Even the writer supports this notion but his grouse was changing physical structure to more apt one. I am of the firm belief that with the policy direction, funding, equipment, motivation and technology, all driven by the passion and will to change things for better, Osun, within the shortest possible time, will be producing the best school leavers and world beaters in all fields.

Ishola Yinka, a citizen of Osun wrote in from Ilesa, State of Osun

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