Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has described the Federal Government’s failure to rescue the missing Chibok girls as shameful.
Soyinka enjoined the nation’s leaders to ensure that children were brought up to respect one another’s religion.
According to him, sincere efforts must be made to ensure that school children were not differentiated along religious lines for a better Nigeria.
He spoke yesterday at the inauguration of the N750 million Wole Soyinka Government High School in Ejigbo, Osun State.
It was the first in the mega schools series under the education reform programme of the Rauf Aregbesola administration.
The literary giant described the school as an “emphatic rejection of what Boko Haram insurgents preach”.
The school is a 3,000-capacity complex with 72 classrooms of 49 square-metre, each capable of sitting 49 pupils. It has six offices for study groups.
It is equipped with six laboratories, 18 toilets for girls and 18 for boys, one science library, one arts library, facility manager’s office, a bookshop and a sick bay.
Soyinka praised Aregbesola, saying he was elated that such honour was bestowed on him. He pledged to visit the school often to see how it was faring.
His words: “It is a shame that the nation cannot account for over 200 girls in Chibok. I sympathise with the religious policy of governments in school; children must not be brought up feeling that religion inhibits knowledge.
“In schools, we need not distinguish our children, the fatalistic religious holiness and the holier-than-thou attitude must be reduced among our pupils.”
Aregbesola said although the cost of the school was huge, he noted that it was a worthy investment.
The governor promised that within the first quarter of next year his government would inaugurate another set of schools in the same category.
He said no government could overspend on education, adding that education was a human resource and the primary way any family could get a lasting benefit from the government.
Aregbesola averred that it was befitting that Osun named the school after Soyinka, who he described as an excellent product of public education in Nigeria and a distinguished academic.
He said: “We can build a good road that will last for 50 years and we are doing that, but this can never compare to the enlightenment an educated person receives, in terms of its value to the society and humanity.
“The state of education prior to our coming was appalling and frighteningly so. Zoos were better than the places where pupils were receiving knowledge. Many of them were dilapidated and falling down.
“These schools were, therefore, not encouraging any serious learning or character building. The result was that the pupils were behaving like animals. They were forming cult groups, fighting regularly with weapons and engaging in immoral acts.
“These are children aged seven and above. My heart bled to see the public education system disintegrate and become dysfunctional.”
Deputy Governor Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori said: “The school was named after Soyinka and it should be seen by pupils as an inspiration to succeed.
“Our administration has provided functional education. We have invested heavily in turning the fortune of education in the state for the greater height.”
Dignitaries at the ceremony included Chief of Staff to the Governor Gboyega Oyetola; Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Lasun Yusuf; member, House of Representatives, Mojeed Alabi; House of Assembly Speaker Najeem Salaam and Chief Judge Justice Oyebola Adepele Ojo.
Others were: Owa Obokun of Ijeshaland Oba Adekunle Aromolaran; Ogiyan of Ejigbo Oba Omowonuola Oyesosin; Akirun of Ikirun Oba Abdul-Rauf Adedeji; Aragbiji of Iragbiji Oba Adularasheed Olabomi; Orangun of Oke-Ila Oba Adedokun Abolarin; Oloyan of Oyan Oba Adekeye Kelani; Timi of Ede Oba Munirudeen Lawal, Olobu of Ilobu Oba Ashiru Olaniyan and many others.