“He, Who Opens A School Door, Closes A Prison” – Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo is a French poet of the Romantic Movement. He is a writer and as well an activist. His quote on education: “He, who opens a school door, closes a prison” points to a fact; education – which we need not neglect as a nation.

Last week, I saw a news headline which read: “Ondo may discontinue free education”, says Akeredolu, this news rented the headline of the pages of national dailies. This was declared during a two days summit on education which held in the state. Although, four days after this declaration the state governor denies declaring a halt on free education, saying that the communique from the summit was wrongly interpreted.

In as much as the government seek to deny this allegation, an open floor of discussion has been utterly thrown open.
Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1955 started free education in the then Western Region of Nigeria and it is obvious Akeredolu is a product of the effort of the late Yoruba leader and his cohorts – of the Action Group (AG). And then, do we allow this legacy to be faced out?

Of a truth, State Governors might be experiencing a clamp down on resources needed to continue the free education agenda but it is worthy to note that the then initiators of the free education agenda never had it smooth as well; even some of their own personal earnings went to the free education agenda. And today as a result of Obafemi Awolowo’s free education agenda we have the southwestern part of Nigeria as a region which is known for its large number of literate citizens and I do not think the governor would like to change this narrative?

Proposing an end to free education is like making open our doors to thieves. Also, the desire of the impoverished parents who would like to send their children up to the secondary school level is probably going to be dashed. An end to free education means the governor wants the state to have an increase in the number of young street hawkers, more children inmates at the juvenile homes and an increase in the number of uneducated children.

If I flip to the other side this quote by Victor Hugo then I will have: “He, who closes a school door, opens the door to the prison” then is this what we plan to do with the lives of our future leaders – a shutdown on literacy?

According to a statistics by UNICEF on education, which is also affirmed by the permanent secretary on Education, Adamu Hussaini, Nigeria has the highest number of out of school children in the world – 10.5million out of school children and also it is the second largest country where young girls between ages 6-11 are uneducated in the world. Recently, the Lagos state released a report stating that 24% of Lagos young girls are exposed to sex at age 18, and this means young girls begin to give birth as early as age 17 or 18 in the state. So comparing these statistics with Ondo State, what would we have as a result?

Closing the school gates means we are opening our future to poverty and if we do not help the vulnerable, how do we help our society to develop and advance?

And if we finally result to no free education, how affordable would school fees be?

The key to sustainable development is education – Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education are major levels of education which are not negligible.




Romantic Movement: This movement originated towards the end of 18th century – which was the age of enlightenment.

Photo Credit: News Nigeria