The Kwara State Government, on Friday, deployed a task force to implement its directive to all schools in the state to reopen and all teachers to resume, despite the ongoing crisis over wearing of hijab in Christian mission schools.
The government had ordered the reopening of the schools on Wednesday as Christian missions insisted that they would not allow the use of hijab by Muslim female students in their schools.
The state Teaching Service Commission, on Thursday, had directed teachers of the affected schools to report to their respective schools on Friday (yesterday).
Saturday PUNCH reports that the teachers arrived promptly at their respective schools but were locked out by some churches, which insisted that they would not allow students or teachers to resume unless the state government rescinded its decision on wearing of hijab in Christian mission schools.
But the Press Secretary in the state Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Yakub Ali-Agan, in a statement on Friday, said all the 10 schools involved in the hijab controversy had been fully opened, hours after the state government directed all the principals and teachers in the affected schools to resume for academic activities.
The statement read, “The schools were opened by a government task force which moved round the metropolis to ensure that the directive is followed and that teachers and students are protected and allowed to begin academic activities.
“At Cherubim and Seraphim College, Sabo Oke, Ilorin, some church leaders locked and barricaded the entrance to the college until government officials escorted by security officials opened the school gate. At Baptist LGEA primary and secondary schools, Surulere, Ilorin, everything went on peacefully with teachers and students seen in their classrooms.
“The government task force, led by officials from the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development and the Teaching Service Commission, reassured members of the public, especially parents and teachers, that the unfortunate incident of Wednesday had been put behind the state and that the schools are safe for schoolchildren to resume learning in earnest.”
According to Ali-Agan, the task force said the government would continue to engage all stakeholders to remain law-abiding and peaceful.
The affected mission schools closed by the government were said to include C&S College, Sabo Oke; St. Anthony College, Offa Road; ECWA School, Oja Iya; Surulere Baptist Secondary School; and Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam.
Others were CAC Secondary School, Asa Dam; St. Barnabas Secondary School, Sabo Oke; St. John School Maraba; St. Williams Secondary School, Taiwo Isale; and St. James Secondary School, Maraba, all in Ilorin, the state capital.
When our correspondent visited some of the schools on Friday morning, Christian faithful were seen gathering in front of Cherubim and Seraphim College, Sabo-Oke area in their Church regalia singing and dancing.
A lorry load of sand was also seen in front of the gate to prevent both teachers and pupils from gaining entrance.
Although the teachers turned up at St. Anthony School, as directed by the government, they were seen gathered in groups discussing the situation outside the school fence as the gate was locked.
Staff of Kwara TESCOM, who monitored compliance of its directive to teachers to resume duty, later invited security operatives who forced open the gates of both schools.
Teachers in St. Anthony Secondary School later entered the school to register their presence, while the students were seen taking tutorial classes, but the gate of C&S College could not be opened because of the heap of sand at the gate.
Similarly, teachers at Bishop Smith Memorial College, Agba Dam Road were engaged in discussion outside the gate of the school.