*Decries rate of out-of-School children
*Seeks subsidised school fees, collaborative efforts to tackle menace
By Francesca Iwambe, Abuja
A Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Abuja and Parish Priest, St Monica’s Sauka, Rev Fr James Adakole Ali, has donated renovated classrooms and other infrastructure to St Jude and Simon Minor Seminary, Kuje Abuja.
Father Ali, an alumnus of the institution, who made the donation as part of the activities to mark his 40th birthday anniversary, noted that the essence is to enhance education for the students of the school.
The Catholic cleric, who lamented that nothing much has changed since he graduated from the school years ago, said his choice of celebrating his birthday with the students was a way of remembering his root where he began his vocational training.
He said, “The motive behind celebrating my birthday here is because I decided to remember my root where I began my vocational training to the Priesthood. This was where I decided to become a priest.
“Looking at the infrastructures here, I realised that not much has changed. This is my own little way of giving back. If every old student in Nigeria can help to develop their respective schools, Nigeria education will be better”.
On the growing rate of out-of-school children in the country, Fr Ali called on the federal government to subsidise fees as well as support low-cost private schools.
“What must be done going forward is for [federal] government to have a policy that will support low-cost private schools because it’s been seen as a solution.
“Education is expensive, ignorance is even more expensive. The best thing to do to reduce the number of out-of-school children is to subside school fees. Private schools are very expensive because government schools have failed. Strike, poor infrastructures, lack of experience teachers.
“You realise that parents cannot afford to pay the school fees. This all boils down to the issue of bad governance. On the part of the church, we are doing out best by giving scholarship to some students who are less privileged . On my part also as a priest, the little I can do is pay school fees to one or two parishioners depending on my straight”, Fr Ali added.
Calling on Nigerians to vote rightly in the forthcoming general elections, Fr Ali said it is only when we have leaders that can make good changes in the country that we will be able to see the desired changes in the education sector.
“There is need for Nigerians to vote rightly in the forthcoming general elections. If we vote in leaders that will be able to make changes in our country, we will begin to experience changes in our education sector and every other sector in Nigeria.
“Our leaders have failed us. Its because they do not know what to do but because they are not directly affected, they have decided to ignore that aspect. I hope the coming election will pave way for Nigeria to be a better place with good and successful leaders that will leave behind legacies that we can hold onto”, Fr Ali added.
Responding, the Rector of the Seminary, Rev Fr Dr Justin Eke commended Fr Ali for the kind gesture.
He also called on other graduates of the school to key in, adding that there is still much that is needed to be done in the school.