Stakeholders of Afikpo Local Government Area (LGA) of Ebonyi state have banned children from ages six to fifteen from being seen outside school premises from eight in the morning to two in the afternoon, Mondays to Fridays during school sessions.
This is the outcome of a mandatory meeting held over the weekend by men and women of all age grades in Afikpo.
Children caught outside the school premises will be apprehended, and their parents or immediate community will be find five thousand Naira.
Likewise, teachers found outside the school premises shall also be apprehended, and the same fine of five thousand Naira shall apply.
In his opening statement at the meeting, Ichie Christopher Abagha Egwu, the Speaker of the Esaa Elders Traditional Council, decried the fallen standard of education in Afikpo.
He noted that education has been the path to the progress of Afikpo people.
“Education was the comparative advantage of the Afikpo man. Today, we have lost that advantage. Our young people are dropping out of schools in droves and the performance of our students is disheartening. This is an existential crisis to the Afikpo man,” he said.
The meeting also resolved to set up a task force to implement the ban of out-of-school children, and entrusted this to the youth age grade for effective implementation.
The age grade shall also be responsible for bringing sanity to the menace of youths above fifteen years old who are not in education, vocational training or under employment.
According to the resolution, no young person under eighteen years old shall be allowed to ride commercial motorcycles in Afikpo.
Meanwhile, all shops and structures that sell illicit drugs were ordered to be closed down.
Accepting the responsibility, a leader of the youth age grade, Mr Obila Ode, assured all stakeholders that the ban will be effectively implemented.
“The youth presidents will take this solemn responsibility seriously. We urge all parents and other stakeholders to work with us to ensure continued peace and progress in Afikpo,” he said.
A school teacher, Mrs Nkechinyere Oko, assured the meeting that teachers in Afikpo LGA will brace up to their responsibilities.
“We acknowledge our role in repositioning education in Afikpo. However, we are also dependent on parents and the government taking their own responsibility seriously”, she said.
One of the initiators of the meeting, Mr Ewah Otu Eleri, Coordinator of the Afikpo Education Support Group, praised the outcome of the meeting.
According to Eleri, “All markets in Afikpo were closed and farm work prohibited today to enable all men and women to participate in this epoch-making meeting to reposition education in the town. It shows the strength of the Afikpo community.
“We therefore urge the Ebonyi State Government to reciprocate this gesture by removing all fees from primary one to junior secondary school, and ensure effective funding of education.”
In the meeting were men and women of all age grades, representatives of the state government and the Afikpo LGA.