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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Christians protest take over of schools in Kwara

Scores of Christians peacefully protested in Kwara State on Wednesday over the reported plan by the state government to take over Christian schools in the State.

Schools in the state resumed on Wednesday but some clerics, church leaders and other Christians gathered at the missionary schools on protest.

They carried placards with different inscriptions, asking the state government to hand over the schools to them. Some of the placards read, “We want our schools back,” “We are taking our schools. They belong to us.” “Govt should stop grant-aiding our schools. We can run them on our own.”

The peaceful protest, our correspondent reports, did not disturb academic activities in the schools as pupils and students had unhindered access to their schools.

Our correspondent observed same scenario of protesting Christian leaders at St. James Christ Apostolic Church Secondary School, New Yidi Road, Ilorin; St. Barnabas Primary and Secondary Schools, Ilorin; St. John Secondary and Primary School, Maraba, Ilorin and St. Anthony Secondary School, Ilorin.

There were also protests in schools owned by the Cherubim and Seraphim, Catholic Church, ECWA and Methodist..

Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, however told journalists that the government was ready to return missionary schools to the owners but that due process must be followed. He said the government had already sent a bill to the state House of Assembly to either amend or repeal the 2006 Education Law in the state.

Ahmed said, “There are two types of schools; the first one is government-owned and the second one is privately owned but government grant-aided some schools. The government-owned are straight-jacketed; the grant-aided ones have entered into agreement with the government under Kwara State Education Law on how grant-aided schools are supposed to be run.

“Once you build a school, either a faith-based, community-based, owned by individuals or groups and you desire to seek for grant-aiding by government, then you would be run under the Kwara State Education Law on grant-aiding of schools. And those schools give the proprietors limited power and give government limited power. This is how schools have been run so far.

“As a matter of fact, it is premised on this that government says, ‘ok, since there are desires by certain individuals and groups to take back their schools, government is also willing to give back their schools to them.”

During the protest, Chairman, Ilorin District Church Council of Christ Apostolic Church Council, Pastor Peter Ogunwale, said they were against the alleged attempt by the Ahmed-led administration to either fully take over the schools or continue the control of the schools.

He said Ahmed had asked churches to write to the government if they wanted to take back their schools.

Ogunwale said, “We want our schools back, we are not selling them. We are the owners of the schools; they are duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Abuja by us, and we have all the papers.

“We are not fighting them, but the issue is that they have destroyed our schools. They destroy it every day even up till this morning. If you go in there, you will be surprised at the terrible level of destruction. So, we want to have them back. We don’t want the government to grant aid to us again, because that is why they are claiming ownership of the schools.

“We are also aware of plan to build mosques inside our schools. We won’t allow that; we want our children to be taught in the ways of the Lord so that when they grow older, they won’t depart from it.”
Photo credits: Punch news

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