A retiring don in the Oyo State College of Education, Lanlate, Dr. Jonathan Ademola Ojeleye, has posited that free education does not truly exist in actuality, as the cost of education extends beyond the direct cost to the individual, but includes also, the opportunity cost to the individual for receiving education.
Ojeleye, who delivered on Thursday, 5 May, 2022, the College’s Maiden Exaugural Lecture titled “X-raying Free Education Mantra in Nigeria: Myths, Facts and Realities for Standard of Education”, noted that the cost of education to the individual includes the purchase of school uniforms, books, educational materials, transportation, supplementary lessons, feeding, and so on, and the opportunity costs as earnings to such individuals were they not in school, not forgetting activities they would’ve been engaged in if they weren’t undergoing formal education.
The don who supported his position with the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act (2004), averred that with government’s inability to effectively cover fees, books, infrastructure, classrooms, instructional materials and lunch, it has become clear that what is currently on offer is relatively not much, and stakeholders must now wade in to salvage the system.
Tracing the history of free education in Nigeria to the deliberate action of then Premier of Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, he submitted that its introduction in 1955 heralded a marked improvement in student enrolment, leading to its imitation by the government of the Eastern Region under Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe in 1953, and its eventual nationalisation by the Olusegun Obasanjo military government in 1976, through the launching of the Free Universal Primary Education Scheme. Dr. Ojeleye then admitted that the policy though laudable, has had its poor implementation, in the light of the cancellation of all fees, has contributed to the decline in the nation’s education standard.
Some of his recommendations among others include a shift from free education to tuition free education, creation of enabling environment in the provision of infrastructure, training and retraining of skilled manpower, as well as the reintroduction of levies to assist in the daily running of schools, urging members of the alumni to assist their alma mater in the provision of infrastructure.
In their remarks, speakers which included Dean, School of General Education, Mr. A.E. Ademola, Head, Department of Educational Foundations, Mr. S.A. Akinteye, Chairman, Senior Staff Unions in Colleges of Education, Nigeria (SSUCOEN), Alh. O.S. Tijani, his Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) counterpart, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Adeola, Dr. Oluremi Adeyemi, a teaching staff, Dr. Ojeleye was eulogized as a man of honour, commitment to excellence and integrity, and reminded to always remember the College everywhere he goes.
Parading the College’s 28 doctoral degree holders, the College’s Acting Provost, Mr. M.O. Falade, called on them, and other members of staff to continue in their quest for knowledge, strive for higher heights and contribute their quota to the College’s development.
The presenter, Dr. Jonathan Ademola Ojeleye, holds the Grade II, NCE, B.A., PGDMC, M.Ed. and PhD degrees, and is a distinguished teacher’s teacher, whose seminal contributions and scholarly publications saw him rise to the pinnacle of his profession as a Chief Lecturer, until his eventual disengagement on 8 May, 2022, on attaining the statutory retirement age of 65.
In attendance was the College’s Management Team, which included the Ag. Provost, the Ag. Registrar, Mr. M.O. Abioye, who gave the vote of thanks, representative of the Ag. Bursar, Mr. J.K. Olatunji, as well as the Management Team of the Adeseun Ogundoyin Polytechnic, Eruwa, and Dr. S.A. Agbogun, Bursar, Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora, as well as Dr. Adebayo Oluwole, of the University of Ibadan, including Mr. Olukunle Ojo, a former Head of Registry of the College, who also once served as Ag. Registrar of Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo.
Other attendees included Old Boys of the Ibadan Boys High School, Oke-Bola, who gleefully recited their school anthem in honour of Dr. Ojeleye, a fellow alumnus, as gifts items were presented to the presenter from several quarters.