Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, defended yesterday Osun State Government’s education policy.
The literary icon said many aspects of the Rauf Aregbesola administration’s reform in education would engender balanced view of life for the children.
The renowned writer spoke yesterday in Osogbo, the state capital, at the opening of a three-day colloquium, titled: Fundamental Imperatives of Cohabitation: Faith and Secularism.
Soyinka, who is the Chairman of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Osogbo, advised that rather than criticise the governor’s education policy, it should be adopted by other states.
The globally acknowledged writer noted that children, at their level, should not be made to believe that they were superior to one another.
He said avoiding such a mindset would enable the children to learn well in a class-free environment.
Soyinka said if Nigerians agreed that children should not be distinguished by affluence, it was fundamentally wrong to differentiate them by their religions.
The literary icon said it was wise that Aregbesola thought about this, in line with the philosophy of giving to the children a level-playing field to learn and exhibit their God given talents.
He said: “I have heard some arguments based on the fact that the school uniform will reduce the children’s sense of individualism. I asked: who says this is what these children need at this tender age? I think they will be able to decide that when they grow up.
“What they need now is an atmosphere where they can learn without distraction, not a situation where children of the rich will come to school in designer dress while some will be struggling to get the fairly used cloth. It is good to go through this uniform together. With this, all children are on the same level.
“The uniform thing will stem the tide of inequality among school children. It is a philosophy that should be adopted throughout the country.”
The literary icon called for the introduction of subjects that would cover comparative religion in public schools so that children could understand the practice and philosophy of each religion.
Aregbesola said the views that would be expressed at the colloquium would be those inspired by structured thinking.
The governor said the thoughts to be shared – beginning from the maiden edition of the colloquium – would contribute to the ethical, spiritual, economic, political and social restructuring of the Nigerian soul.
He said: “Any faith, whose adherents are encouraged to maim and slaughter those who do not belong to it, cannot, in the true sense, be classified as faith. It is not good for any society. Any faith that exhorts otherwise should not be acceptable to any person.
“It is in this regard that the murderous activities of the renegade sect, Boko Haram, must be totally condemned. Those who feed their hideous viper of death do not in any way represent and serve the cause of Islam.”
Aregbesola said Osun was on the path of religious tolerance, which its people and the Yoruba nation are known for.
He said: “Since we assumed office, our administration has been more committed to the deepening of this practice through equal, non-discriminating relationship with the various faith groups in the state.
“There is freedom for all religious groups to operate and fulfil the demands of their faith. Therefore, those who accuse us of either having Islamisation agenda or favours one faith above the others do so either out of ignorance or mischief, or both.”
The colloquium was attended by top political office holders and civil servants, traditional rulers, market women and youth groups.