Things seemed to have been hard for private schools in Osun as some of the schools proprietors and proprietress lamented over the sharp decline in the enrollment intake into the private schools in the state.
The decline which was described as artificial was said to have been the positive effects of education revolution of the present government in the state.
As it is, facts have emerged that the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola had not only taken the bull by the horn at revamping education sector, but only refocusing the people's attention and interest to quality, qualitative and functional education through his various interventions that have attracted residents particularly parents to resolve taking their children to public schools.
The Osun public school sector that had almost collapsed and failed prior Aregbesola's government are now at the central point of reference in enrollment strength, leaving private schools at enrollment low ebb.
It was gathered that private schools in the state are gradually loosing students to public schools due to facilities which Aregbesola's administration had put in place to advance public education.
Some members of the National Association of Private School Proprietors of Nigeria, Osun state chapter, confirmed that the decline in the rate of pupils and students enrollment into private schools in the state had been on increase in the last few years.
The affected school proprietors stated this as part of reasons for their inability to meet up with the agreed tax ought to be paid to state government.
The officials of the Osun state Internal Revenue Service (OIRS) had few weeks ago went on standard enforcement visit to some of the private organizations including private schools, banks, hotels, companies and industries in order to ascertain the level of their compliance to taxation, operational rules and standards.
The decision of the agency according its chairman, Mr Bicci Alli, was to complement government's efforts towards the actualization of an improved and robust revenue capable of upsurging the state's Internally Generated Revenue.
It was gathered that the action of the agency led to the seal of some private investments on the account that the affected companies violated some operational rules and that they were also found wanting of regular tax payment to the state.
However, the private school proprietors and proprietresses who could not hide their feelings on the development, attributed their failure to meet up with the agreed tax as sharp decline in the volume of students being enrolled to their schools per session.
They said the pupils and students enrollment to private schools in the state had reduced drastically to the extent that parents seemed to have been seeing public schools as better in their quest choice on the to quality education.
Two of the proprietors whose names and identities withheld to avoid being discredited, described the huge investment made in education sector particularly the education infrastructure being put in place by Governor Aregbesola led government as major cause of their travails.
The duo who claimed to have been in the private education system over 18 years ago, noted that prior to the present administration, they had not for once found it difficult to pay their taxes as they have enough students and earned enough money to pay all the necessary bills including their taxes.
According to one of them, "what we are facing right now is hinged on what could be best described as total discouragement to private schools' enrollment.
"We are facing serious decline in the pupils and students enrollment to private schools. But when this began to hit us on the face, we sat down to know what would have gone wrong, and we came with the fact that parents in the state have begun taking their children to public schools due to relative facilities.
"Unlike years past where public education was nothing to write home about. But now people have begun to see public education as a strong competitor to private education, thus making private schools losing enrollment strength and this is a bad omen to over investment.
"For instance, before, everybody wants to have his or her child being enrolled to private schools at least to have quality basic education through solid foundation, but now, reverse seems to be the case.
"Then, hardly one would pray to send his child to public school not because it is a taboo but because there were no facilities to bring out the best in the pupils, but when those necessary things were put in place, definitely attention would be shifted.
"Though this is painful to us as owners and proprietors of these schools because in a situation where one finds it extremely difficult to pay his staff, you know what it means", he stressed.
Confirming the development, the Commissioner for Education, Mr Wasiu Omotunde-young, said the efforts made by the Aregbesola's administration not only to revive education but to build a virtuous man that will be productive for himself and the society has come to fruition as enrollment to public schools are annually on the increase.
Omotunde-young said the present administration in the state has demonstrated to the whole world through its various interventions that education remains the foundation for national development and a key instrument for socioeconomic progress.
He said Aregbesola has not only revived the already lost glory of public education but also embarked on radical, overhauling, pragmatic and far-reaching education reforms aimed at creating a functional, quality and qualitative education that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with private counterparts.
According to him, the state of education prior Aregbesola's administration was in no doubt nothing to write home about as public education was in total shambles where schools were enveloped in decrepit structures and deplorable state not even conducive for pigs not to talk of human beings.
"The standard of education which Aregbesola met on ground was an eyesore and apart from the infrastructural collapse, there was a rot in the system; the students' performance was abysmal, and the learning environment was not conducive for teaching and learning.
"The teachers were not motivated, the students were equally not encouraged to be in schools and there was nothing to entice the pupils and students to come to school, so it was only the poor parents that sent their children to public schools in Osun before Aregbesola's emergence.
"But beyond individual's financial status and economic buoyancy that had been the major barrier and gap to access quality and functional education in Nigeria, the present administration in the state of Osun had not only broken the yolks but also restored the already lost hopes and confidence in education sector taking it back to dreams meant to be achieved by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo", Omotunde-young stressed.
The Osun Education Commissioner however said the emergence of Governor Aregbesola in 2010 having inherited a comatose education sector where teachers lacked motivation and where students were less interested in learning occasioned by the poor academic environment gave birth to education reforms with which its positive results are being achieved today.
"Our reforms have had tremendous impacts on the Osun educational competitiveness. To justify the claims, it is on record that out of 37, 428 candidates that sat for West African Examinations Council (WAEC) in 2006, 4, 085 passed with 5 credits including English and Mathematics equivalent to10.91 percent.
"In 2007, out of 36, 171 candidates, 2,483 passed equates 6.86 percent. In 2008, out of 37, 715 candidates, 3,813 passed with five credits passes including English and Mathematics making 10.11 percent. In 2009, out of 39, 676 candidates that wrote the exams, only 5, 545 passed with five credits passes equating 13.98 percent.
"In 2010, out of 43, 216 candidates, 6, 777 passed with five credits passes including English and Mathematics equivalent to 15.68 percent. In 2011, out of 53, 293 candidates that sat for the exams, 11, 431 passed with five credits passes including English and Mathematics making 21.9 percent.
"Also, in 2012, out of 51, 463 candidates that wrote WAEC, 11, 431 passed equating 22.21 percent. In 2013, out of 47, 009 candidates, 9, 654 passed equating 20.54 percent. In 2014, out of 47, 686 candidates, 8,844 passed making 18.55 percent. In 2015, out of 48, 845 candidates that sat for the exams, 10, 590 passed, while in 2016, 16, 983 passed with five credits including English and Mathematics out of 36, 679 that sat for the exams equivalent to 46.3 percent.
"The analysis shows that the performance of the students in Osun has been on astronomical increase in WAEC compared with the abysmal performance prior to Aregbesola's government.
"The reasons for this are not far fetched as it could be attributed to overhaul modality and systematic approach taken by the Aregbesola led administration to revamp education and make public education the best in line with international best standards.
"On assumption of office, a six-point integral action was put in place by the Aregbesola led government as the guiding principle and policy framework to achieve an overall growth and development of the state where education was put on the front burner.
"The initiative saw the need to address teachers’ welfare and that of other non-teaching staff through timely teachers’ career advancement, regular training and retraining, provision of teaching incentives, regular teachers' promotion and prompt payment of salaries and allowances", he added.
Omotunde-young emphasized that the introduction of education reforms through schools reclassification into elementary, middle and high schools coupled with education infrastructures have culminated into an improved enrollment into public schools since Aregbesola's emergence.
Echoing similar gestures, the Permanent Secretary, State Universal Basic Education in Osun (SUBEB), Mr Fatai Kolawole described the school infrastructural facilities put in place by the state as major reason for the current encouraged students enrollment.
He said the rate of enrollment at elementary school was encouraging to the extent that no term or session that the public schools in the state are not making improvement on the enrollment.
Kolawole added, "I am not surprised by this development because such are expected to happen in a situation where government does the necessity on education sector.
"The huge investment made in education by our governor is enough to get one tempted into striving very hard to benefit from the facilities there-in as all the model schools are not only equipped but serving as cynosure to parents to get their children enrolled into those schools.
"The conducive environments and serene atmospheric weather condition designed for teaching and learning in all the newly built model schools had not only become a pivotal instrument to enhance teaching and learning, but also had a captivating impact in braking the palpable inferiority complexity and dichotomy between public and private school students.
"Is it the uniforms to talk about? Or the success of Osun Elementary School Feeding Programme known as (O'Meals) where thousands of pupils are fed on every school day or tablets of knowledge freely distributed to students at final classes? All these remain the contributory factors to improved enrollment in public schools because parents have begun to see these interventions as point of reference to enroll their children in public schools since the accessibility of these facilties costs nothing".