By Sunmola Olowookere
The Catholic Community in Ondo State is elated over the decision of the state government to return schools established by Missionaries back to their original owners.
Dr. Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, Bishop of the Diocese who reacted to the government back down yesterday described the action as heartwarming.
Arogundade said the decision to return the schools had long been anticipated, however cautioned that no government anywhere can solely educate the people.
He told The Hope in an exclusive interview that education is a collective responsibility which all stakeholders must be allowed to participate completely in educating the citizens.
“I am happy that the governor finally conceded after a lot of pressure from me in particular that some Missionary Schools that have been taken a long time ago have become a shadow of themselves.
“We feel that if they allow us to take over some of these schools, we can do a little better because those facilities that we have and were not taken over are some of the best today,” the Bishop explained.
He observed that though the church does not have enough money to turn the schools around in one day, but promised to work with the government and the people of Ondo State to bring back the schools to their lost glory.
“Education is not free anywhere, not even in America. So all have to make commitments. We are of the view that we can bring down the level because we are a church and we are always sensitive to the needs of the poor.
“We are not trying to build a school for the upper class or the very rich. However, we need to charge some money in order to be able to pay the teachers, develop and organize the school,” he explained.
Bishop Arogundade called on the government not to simply wash its hands off the schools, but to continue to support them.
“The students are children of the government so the government has to continue to make commitments to these schools.”
He was of the view that the resources of government were not adequate to cater for the needs of the schools, hence the need for the reversal of ownership of Missionary schools.
He stated that parents had been nurturing the false hope that education could be free, and assured them that some fees would be paid by the students and would not be astronomical.
“We cannot allow them to continue like this. Even the government will own up that they don’t have enough resources to bring these schools to where it should be and at a level they would be proud of, it’s very obvious.
If we begin to handle it and do the things that are necessary, things will turn around,” he added.