On the takeover of the DSC schools by Premium Steel Indians
One fact that must be made clear about the takeover of the Delta Steel Company (DSC) Model Primary Schools 1 and 2 and the Technical High School by the Premium Steel Indians is that education is built on the cultural heritage of a people and should not be privatised to foreign investors. The school represents the formal organ for transmission of the cultural heritage of a people from generation to generation. Sociologists view it as the socialisation of the individual members of a given society beginning from the home.
Privatising an existing government owned school to foreigners is coterminous to selling our treasured home. It could also be factored as mental confusion and/or tiredness encountered on the drive to maturity. The last batch of the colonial master teachers left the educational scene of the country around 1975 on the ground that we were matured to carry on the endowed socialisation process of our citizens.
From 1960 to date, we have managed the formal education sector which hitherto was primary responsibilities of colonial masters who taught mainly the 3Rs at the expense of transmitting our cultural heritage. After independence several education acts and systems ostensible to our educational well-being were introduced. The first major step was to severe the education ties from the colonial masters. This led to the establishment of the University of Nigeria Nsukka on October 7, 1960. The University of Ibadan (Premier University) which was an affiliate College of the University of London became an autonomous university in October 1962.
The post independence era witnessed spurt of government owned educational institutions and gradual emergence of private individuals and corporate organisations owned schools. The NNPC schools were established as staff schools in Kaduna and Ekpan near Warri. However, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (former Shell British Petroleum) resisted all pressures to establish staff schools on the ground that it deviated significantly from their corporate goal. The DSC Model Primary and Technical High Schools were patterned after the NNPC and similar demonstration schools in the country.
The DSC Schools became the best primary and secondary schools in Africa with a sound academic legacy occasioned by the curriculum and institutional structure. The excellence was measured in terms of prizes at intra state, inter-state and international levels as well as in psychomotor talents, pre and post academic achievements. Just to buttress, the DSC Model School came first in the recent nation-wide Mathematics competition organised by Mathematics Association of Nigeria (MAN). In the STAN competition they made Delta State proud by coming second to Imo State with a difference of one score. In the Turkish International Scholarship Competition one participant from DSC Model School got full scholarship and three others had 50 per cent scholarship. A visit to the Headmistress Offices shows similar records of the yearly performance of the Primary Schools. Closely related is that most of the DSC Technical High School graduates who measured in engineering and sciences became renowned engineers and medical doctors the world over.
Part of the legacy of the DSC Primary Schools in particular was the academic instructional system which involves rotating Subject Matter Specialist from one class to the other with a class master in charge of control and supervision. The innovation has endured in the Schools and is gradually being diffused into primary education in the country. The innovative curriculum coupled with staff motivation attracted high calibre teachers from the Universities and Colleges of Education to take up teaching and management positions in the Schools. It suffices to mention the likes of late Dr. B. B. Avwata who left the defunct Bendel State University Abraka Campus to take up appointment with the educator of DSC.
At the fall in Steel production and its attendant cataclysms on the Company under the Federal management, the population of the Schools dropped dramatically leading to the closure of Schools 2 and 4 remaining Primary Schools 1 and 3, and the Technical High School.. The closed Schools 2 and 4 a hitherto vibrant environment has been taken over by weeds, noxious insects, reptiles and trees of unimaginable size in a human habitat. The parents, teachers and old students have struggled and continued to struggle to keep the remaining schools afloat even after the fall in steel production with the prime purpose of sustaining the legacy and keeping the records straight for posterity.
The incursion of the Premium Steel Indians into education while we are still waiting for the first set of smelted steel to come out of their furnaces after three years of incorporation brings to mind certain questions: What financial contribution has the Premium Steel Indians made towards staff welfare and infrastructural development of the Schools since they took over the company? Is there any Premium Steel School domiciled in Indian which the Premium Steel Indians are attempting to transfer to Nigeria with particular reference to DSC Ovwian-Aladja?
The fear is palpable that the Premium Steel Indians will destroy the existing legacy, social and physical structures of the Schools if they are allowed to take over the Schools. Presently, the contributing stakeholders to the schools are the parents, old students, pupils/students, and teachers. The Premium Steel Indians have no employment letters and laid down conditions of service for the teachers yet they have arrogated to themselves the administration and provision of major economic services to the schools.
In the current 2017/2018 session the Premium Steel Indians have gone into printing of the major textbooks from India with a Company known as Repro India Limited. To be precise the writer bought the following textbooks which were printed by the aforementioned company:
Evans Modular English Course for Primary Schools Book 3 and 5.
Evans Modular Mathematics for Primary Schools Book 3.
Smart Basic Science and Technology Book 3.
From the three textbooks so far the argument seems plausible that the country is undergoing gradual neo-colonisation by India starting with DSC Schools. The idiomatic expression that, ‘there is no smoke without fire’ is immutable in the ongoing colonisation of the country by Indians. Unfortunately, some Nigerians and a subsidiary of Federal Government have been playing the ignoble role of ‘sniffing dogs’ to the Premium Steel Indians with the grand intent of perfecting the surreptitious neo-colonialism to the detriment of our people.
Those persons who recently received the first droplets of the neo-colonialism by the Indians have been left alone either in melancholic dilemma, despondency or grief occasioned by euphoria of slavery in the 21st century. Slavery is nothing other than economic, social and political exploitation of one country for the economic benefits of the exploiting country.. Another characteristic of slavery is sheepish mentality to the nationals of another country. To us the present situation is unacceptable in a world intrinsically revolutionised by national ethos, social justice and self determination.
The change in nomenclature of the schools would definitely have un-salutary effects on the image of the schools. The first sign boards erected by the Premium Indians in the three Schools bore the name Premium Steel School founded in 1980. On the intervention of the PTA, the sign boards were changed to DSC Schools but with the inscription at the bottom ‘owned and operated by Premium Steel and Mines Limited’. The question is, ‘How will the old students feel on hearing their almamater founded in 1980 has been changed to a company incorporated in 2014? From this perspective, it should be understood that the activity of the Premium Steel Indians so far is capable of causing political disaffection and socio-cultural twist amongst the people.
At inception, the Schools were essentially for children of staff hence there were differential fees between staff and non-staff at that time. Today, the Premium Steel Indians have no direct staff except the teachers whose children attend the Schools. Steel production has been and still remains the hub of the company activities. Let the Premium Steel Indians concentrate on Steel production in order to generate the much needed revenue for themselves and the Federal Government.
The parents have laboured to sustain the Schools after the fall of the company for about fifteen years. Forget that the structures are owned by the federal government. The physical buildings cannot make a school unless the stakeholders agree to carry on with it as a valuable institution. In the travails of the schools it was only His Excellency Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan who out of passion for education and desire to sustain the past glory of the Schools took up the payment of staff salaries of the Technical High School for about one year .when the teachers went on strike under the Aribisala led management of the Schools.
Any person who has detail performance of the schools at the back of his hands would detest any measure capable of emasculating the schools in the name of the present privatisation intrigues. It becomes exigent, therefore, to call on His Excellency, the President Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly and the Delta State House of Assembly to look into the matter. In view of these submissions, the Delta State House of Assembly in particular should not relax on its oars on the ground that the structures belong to the Federal Government. This is because most of the children and teachers are indigenes of Delta State. A stitch in time saves nine. Thank you.
Ovwigho lectures at Delta State University, Asaba Campus.