PARENTS and guardians of children and wards between the ages of six and 18 who have either dropped out of school or not schooling at all risk imprisonment, the Bayelsa State Government has warned.
The Commissioner for Education, Mr Markson Fefegha, gave the warning in Yenagoa on Wednesday when a group, Centre for Save and Serve Humanity Organization, honoured him with 2017 Integrity Stewardship Award.
Fefegha, who dedicated the award to his boss, Governor SeriakeDickson, for giving him the opportunity to serve, noted that the state government would soon send an executive ‘Compulsory Education Bill’ tothe State House of Assembly for passage. He explained that the bill would complement the present administration’s investments in the education sector which he put at close to N80bn.
The commissioner said that the bill, when passed, would make it compulsory for every parent and guardian to send their children back to school and rid Bayelsa State of school drop-outs who loiter the streets during school hours. He stressed that with the Education Trust Fund policy and loan scheme
Already put in place by the Seriake Dickson administration, parents had no reason not to send their children to school. He added that the bill would also prohibit street hawking by children of school age. Fefegha said Dickson came on board with the mindset of making education compulsory and affordable for all Bayelsans hence hedeclared an emergency in the sector and introduced a free education policy for both primary and secondary schools.
He stated, “The compulsory Education Bill which will be sent to the State House of Assembly in the next few weeks is to justify the Massive investment we have made in the education sub-sector. This is why our children must go back to school; our teachers must be trained and retrained. “The bill will be passed so that the parents of our children of six And 18 years who are out of school will be arrested and prosecuted; they have no reason to loiter the streets.”
The commissioner added that several modern boarding schools had been established by the present government to give quality education to the Bayelsan child. The Executive Director, CSSHO, Mr. Oyibo Abraham, said the award was As a result of Fefegha’s sound and effective policies, basic education Reforms towards free and qualitative education in the state.
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors has presented trophies won by the state contingent at the Just-concluded festival of Nigerian Teen Authors in Minna, Niger State, to the state government.
The State Chairman of ANA, Mr. Preye Julius, while presenting the Awards to the Commissioner for Education said one Miss Favour Alagba, An SS1 student of Community Secondary School, Kpansia, Yenagoa, won First place trophy for ‘Spoken Word’.
Julius also presented Miss Akpobeta John of Central Epie Secondary School, Opolo, as one who won three trophies including third-place Trophy for Spoken Word, third-place Trophy for Performance Poetry and Third-place trophy for On-the-spot Short Stories. He appealed to the State government to help the teen authors publish their written books and establish a Child Development Centre where ANA could nurture up-coming writers.
Receiving the trophies, Fefegha thanked the two children for making Bayelsa proud and promised that the state government would ensure that those who had written books but not published because of lack of money would be encouraged. One of the award winners, Miss Akpobeta John, said she drew her literary inspiration from the challenges and deprivations faced by the Girl-child.
She added that she had written several books including her latest, ‘Breaking the Silence’ yet to be published.