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    Wednesday, July 19, 2023

    FG to ‘Send Home’ Students ‘Whose Parents Challenge Unity Schools’

    The Nigerian government on Monday issued a directive to the management of Federal Government Colleges (FGCs), otherwise known as unity colleges, to ‘send home’ students whose parents sued the schools.

    In a 17 July circular to principals of all unity colleges, the education ministry said the child or ward of any person who sued the school “will be sent home until there is a court decision on the said litigation”.

    The ministry also moved against parents posting their grievances with the schools or the schools’ activities on social media.

    It said the decision was to ensure “the stability of our colleges for a smooth and peaceful academic environment”.

    But human rights lawyer, Chidi Odinkalu, said the circular is akin to shutting parents’ efforts to hold the schools accountable.

    He added that the directive violates the Child Rights Act.

    “This circular issued by @NigEducation seeks to shut down efforts by parents to hold accountable rogue school management in the #UnitySchools. “Even worse, it violates the #ChildRightsAct & the UBEC Act: u cannot exclude children from school for the actions of their parents!” he tweeted on Tuesday.


    According to the circular signed by the Director of Senior Secondary Education, Binta Abdulkadir, the decision followed the response of some parents to some challenges in the unity colleges.

    It accused parents of publishing false and negative information about the activities of the schools on social media.

    It also accused them of not following proper, peaceful communication and resolution channels.

    The ministry added that some parents “sow seeds of disunity to distract the management of the schools in cases where the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) and the School-Based Management Committee (SBMC) have cordial working relationships with the schools.”


    The ministry, therefore, asked principals to invoke the content of a 20th September 2021 circular on the “indiscriminate use of media platforms to tarnish the image” of the colleges.

    “Principals are directed henceforth to send home wards of parents who take the FUCs/Principals/stakeholders like PTA/SBMC to court. Their wards will remain with them until the court case is decided,” it said.

    Familiar terrain

    In 2016, the ministry issued a similar circular, threatening to expel students if their parents used social media to “spread false and negative information” against the schools.

    Mr Odinkalu, who at the time was the president of Unity Schools Old Students Association, said the directive implied the ministry was moving against “free expression”.

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