All over the world, basic (primary and secondary) education has been regarded as the most important as well as the most patronized by people. This perhaps may be due to the fact that it is the foundation of the whole educational pursuit, which is expected to provide literacy and enlightenment to the citizens. The importance of basic education can therefore be seen in the sense that all beneficiaries of the other levels of education by necessity have to pass through his level (Oni, 2008). He further said that what this means is that basic education defined as the education given in an institution for children aged 6-17 years plus constitutes the bedrock upon which the entire education system is built. Indeed, the success and failure of the entire education system are determined by it and it is at the heart of the concept of basic education also defined as universalization of access of education.
Recognizing the importance of basic education, all governments in Nigeria (past and present) have placed premium on it by making basic education the centre piece of their educational policies. In achieving this objective, the government of Delta State recognised the importance of ensuring that children of school-aged must be “off the street” during school hours and remain in their various schools. Based on this initiative, the Delta State Government in September, 2013 inaugurated the Education Marshals (EduMarshals) with a charge to ensure that all school-aged children attend school compulsorily. In his inauguration speech, the former government of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan stated that education is the bedrock of every society and that the inauguration of the Education Marshals was necessary to ensure that children of school age especially the 8 percent that were not in school benefitted from the free education programme of the state government (Iduh, 2013).
In enumerating the importance of the Education Marshals, Iduh (2013) stated that Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan said that the programme would educate the parents on the need to send their wards to school rather than to hawk during school hours and advising parents that education is the best legacy they can bequeath to our children and our society, because if our children are well educated, they can take informed decisions on issues. While addressing school children at the venue, the Governor advised them to ensure that they go to school early and stay till the close of the day as any child caught by the EduMarshals outside school premises during school hours would be punished and the parents sanctioned. He admonished the children not to hawk or be found selling in their parents stores during school hours while they are supposed to be in school saying: “if your parents give you wares to go and hawk or send you to go to their shops to sell while you are supposed to be in school don’t go.”
The Delta Education Marshal (DEM) also referred to as Education Marshal or EduMarshal is a programme of the Delta State Government to checkmate truancy and indiscipline in primary and secondary school in the state. EduMarshal Programme was developed and designed by the Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan Administration to ensure that school-aged children attend and remain in school during school hours and to improve the quality of learning (Igbuzor, 2014).
Aluede (2015) stated that the dream of a Delta State where every child of school-age should be in school is the reason for introducing the EduMarshal Programme. Human, economic and Cultural factors which impede the development of the learning culture will be addressed by the EduMarshal Initiative. The EduMarshal Programme is therefore designed to secure maximum advantage provided by the State’s improved environment and enhanced institutional capacities. Delta EduMarshal is intended to eliminate street culture and entrench the learning culture by returning out-of-school children to school.
In commending the Education Marshall initiative of the Delta State Government, Oghuvbu (2013) stated that it is not enough for a state government to invest so much resource in the development of infrastructure in schools but also to ensure that these facilities are put to good use by the pupils and students in schools thereby justifying the huge investment made. Stressing that if effectively managed, the EduMarshal initiative will help Delta State to build a citizenry that will not only remain champions in the Nigerian federation but also be competitive professionally and in every area of human endeavour in the global community.
Historical background of education marshal and educational reform policy of Delta State
The Delta State government has enacted laws to guide and regulate the implementation of the policies in the sector.
These laws include:
- The Free and Compulsory Education Law 2004 and
- The Child Right Law of 2010.
In consonance with the Federal Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act of 26th May, 2004, the Delta State government in the same year enacted a law on free and compulsory education for all children of school-age in the state. The law demands that every child of school age irrespective of sex, social status, physical and religious affiliation must attain basic education by the year 2015. Parents under this law are required to ensure that their children/wards of school age remain in school during school hours or face prosecution. However it appears that the law is not being effectively enforced. Nevertheless, this law and other legal instruments have provided an enabling climate for school enrolment to increase.
In 2010, the Delta State legislature passed into law the UNESCO Declaration of International Human Right Law of 1941. The Act stipulated among other things a child’s right to education and eventually became the instrument driving universal basic education.
The state’s vision for primary and secondary education is function in ensuring quality education that lays the foundation for good citizenry in every child (Delta Vision, 2011). In the same way, the vision for higher education is for Delta state to become one of the leading states with the highest level of trained and skilled manpower in line with the vision, specific goals/objectives, policies and strategies have been formulated to guide in the sector and this bring about the establishment of Education Marshall (EduMarshal).
The Delta State Education Marshals was inaugurated on September 16, 2013 by Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan administration to enforce the compulsory education for children in the state where over 25 Education Special Marshals and 100 Education Marshals (EduMarshals) were inaugurated with a charge to ensure that all school-aged children attend school compulsorily (Iduh, 2013).
The Education Marshals were employed young men and women while the Education Special Marshals were traditional rulers and respectable elder statesmen in Delta State. The Education Marshals and Education Special Marshals were charged to work in synergy to ensure that school-aged children attend school and remain in school throughout the school hours.
The Delta State policy on education was developed to eradicate illiteracy at all levels of human existence and provide affordable education for all Deltans irrespective of class, religion, ethnic origin or physical appearance. The policy was driven by a desire to eradicate poverty, increase indices of development, increase political consciousness and encourage issues of integration. One of such programs for the educational reform policy is the free and compulsory education for all children in the state. Odu (2013) stated that for the success of the Delta State free and compulsory education to the effective, the state Education Marshals must rise up to their responsibilities of keeping school-aged children in school.
The Delta State Education policy was formulated to be the bed rock of a lifelong learning that will impact reading, writing and the acquisition of the other relevant skills for sustenance and development. This education comprises of formal and non-formal acquisition of basic skills. The objectives of the Delta State Education Policy according to the State Ministry of Basic and Primary Education (2015) include the following:
Activities of the Delta State Education Marshals
The Delta State Education Marshals popularly known as EduMarshals were inaugurated with specific mandates which include the detection and prevention of truancy among students; the apprehension of school age child hawking or selling in stores or shops during school hours; maintenance of school hours surveillance and arrest, detain and investigate and/or return or register any person of school age found outside school premises during school hour (Ossai, 2013).
In order to achieve this, the Education Marshals are charged with a responsibility of carrying out some sort of surveillance activities in the street, school gate and the entire community in search of school-aged children engaging in truancy or with the knowledge of their parents staying away from school.
Other functions of the EduMarshals are the provision of intelligence information to relevant ministries, police and stakeholders on any matters relating to a child; to make a child under 18 years of age to attend school or learn a trade (skills acquisition); to ensure that the streets of Delta State are free of students during school hours and to carry out publicity and awareness campaigns of its functions (Iduh, 2013).
Laws guiding the Delta State Education Marshals
The Code of Conduct for the Delta State Education Marshal is spelt out in the Delta State Education Policy of 2013 which establish and maintain a high standard of morality in the conduct of Education Marshals, and ensured that the actions and behaviours conform to the highest standards of public morality and accountability. It indicated that that all Education Marshals should study existing rules and regulations governing Government business. According to Odu (2013), details of the code governing the conduct of Education Marshal and for which a violation would amount to corruption is reproduced below:
- Education Marshal shall not put himself in a position where his interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.
- Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph, Education Marshall shall not:
(a) Receive or be paid emoluments of any public office at the same time as he receive or is paid the emoluments of any other public office; or
(b) Except when he is not employed in full time basis, engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade; but nothing in this paragraph shall prevent an Education Marshall from engaging in farming or participating in the management or running of any farm.
3. An Education Marshall shall not ask for or accept any property or benefit of any kind for himself or any other person on account of anything done or omitted to be done by him in the discharge of his duties.
- An Education Marshall shall not do or direct to be done in abuse of his office an arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of any other persons knowing that such act is unlawful or contrary to any government policy.
- An Education Marshall shall not be a member of, belong to, or take part in any secret society and or any society the membership of which is incompatible with the functions and dignity of his office.
Iduh (2013) listed some of the behaviours expected of an Education Marshals to include:
- Honesty and transparency
- Respect for constituted authority
- Indiscrimination: An Education Marshals is not expected to discriminate against any citizen on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association.
- Discipline: Strict adherence to the rules and regulations of the Education Marshal is a must.
- Loyalty: Loyalty should be an integral part of the behaviour of a Education Marshals. This implies faithfulness to the nation and the employer and supportive of the aims for which one is employee.
- Honesty and transparency: These should be cardinal principles for all Education Marshals and should be demonstrated in conducting official duties and in dealing with members of the public.
- Accountability: An Education Marshal should display responsible stewardship for all items, money, materials and men placed under his supervision. This implies that all government property entrusted with an Education Marshal should be properly accounted for.
- Respect for constituted authority: An Education Marshal should show unqualified respect for constituted authority and the country at large.
- Punctuality: An Education Marshal should endeavour to be punctual at his place of work. They should also not absent themselves from work except on approval.
Impacts of the Education Marshal initiative in the Delta State’s compulsory education for children
The Education Marshal initiative has in doubt contributed immensely to the implementation of the compulsory primary and secondary education. In the opinion of Uleme (2015), the Delta State Education Marshal greatly contributed in:
- Increase in school enrolment
- Retention of pupils and students in school
- Regular school attendance
- Punctuality of school children
- Increase in school enrolment
Since the inauguration of the Delta State Education Marshal, there has been a very remarkable increment in school enrolment. Many school-age children who could have been away from the school do not have any option than to go to school. This is unconnected with the fact that the Education Marshal has helped to enforce the Delta State Compulsory Education Policy which forbids the engagement of school age children in vocational training/any form of apprenticeship, hawking, touting or domestic chores during school hours (Okoro, Uzeme & Odu, 2015).
The table below shows the school enrolment for basic and secondary schools in Delta State from 2007/2008 to 2014/2015 academic session.
Table 1: School enrolment for basic and secondary schools 2007/2008 – 2014/2015
|Year||Primary||Junior Sec. Sch.||Senior Sec. Sch.||Grand Total|
(Source: Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education Report, 2015).
- Retention of pupils and students in school: The activities of Educational Marshal have greatly helped in the retention of pupils and students in school during school hours. In a research carried out by on the deviants behaviour of school children in Udu Local Government Area, Delta State revealed that school children are more than ever discouraged from running away from school during school hours. According to students interviewed, getting away from the school compound during school hours is easy the routes to take while going home or to other places are occupied by Education Marshals who will arrest and return you to the school compound after severe punishment (Ulueme, 2015).
- Regular school attendance: The Education Marshal Programme has made skipping school very unattractive to school children since even if they do not go to school they have to go into hiding all through the school hours to avoid being caught by Education Marshals. In a study of selected secondary school students in Asaba, Delta State, Dike (2014) stated that nearly all the school children interview were of the opinion that skipping school is useless because they cannot go home because they have to hide from their parents and they cannot move in the streets because Education Marshals will be out there to arrest them.
- Punctuality of school children: Apart from ensuring that school children attendant school, Education Marshals ensure that school children are punctual to school. In Isoko North Local Government as reported by Akporobaro (2015), Education Marshals are situated at different locations in Ozoro to arrest and punish school children going late to school.
Challenges faced by the Delta State Education Marshals
The activities of the Delta State Education Marshals are faced with different challenges which according to Omorojor (2015) include:
- Shortage of manpower
- Operating in unfamiliar terrains
- Lack of co-operation by parents and community leaders.
- Hostility from school children
- Inadequate logistic vehicles
- Shortage of manpower: Due to shortage of manpower, Education Marshals find it very difficult to effectively cover all the schools in and as a result of this, their activities are only restricted to few government schools leaving the other schools behind from enjoying the benefits. While is most of the villages, the activities of Education Marshals are non-existence (Omorojor, 2015)
- Operating in unfamiliar terrains: Most of the Marshals operate in communities different from their place of inhabitation and thus do not know the streets in the community and make it very difficult for the Marshalls to detect school children hiding in the streets (Edegware, 2014).
- Lack of co-operation by parents and community leaders: Lack of co-operation by parents and community leaders has also contributed to the challenges faced by Education Marshalls as it is commonplace to see parents helping school children to hide from the Marshalls. Also community leaders have also fail to take responsibilities in helping Education Marshalls to curb truancy by school children (Okafor, 2015).
- Hostility from school children: School children see Education Marshal one of their enemies. This feeling of enmity has led to the attack of Education Marshals in carrying out their duties. Edegware (2014) stated that on 23rd June, 2014 in Uwvie community Education Marshal where attacked by some group of students believed to be members of an unnamed cult.
- Inadequate logistic vehicles: Education Marshals are faced which inadequate patrol vehicles to move in the street to detect and arrest school child engaging in truancy (Okafor, 2015).
Measures to minimize challenges faced by Education Marshals
In order to minimize the challenges faced by the Delta Education Marshals, the following measures where recommended:
- The government should employ more Marshals to reduce the student-to-Marshal ratio to a manageable size to ensure efficiency. Madu (2014) stated that increasing the number of Marshals will greatly improve the activities of Education Marshal as this will help them to cover more schools in different communities in the state.
- Education Marshal should be posted to communities where they are familiar with to ensure efficiency. Iduh (2013) stated that Education Marshals posted to communities here they are familiar with find it very easy to locate possible hiding place for school children evading their parents and school authorities.
- Parents and community leaders should constantly reminded of their responsibilities in supporting Education Marshals in keeping their children in school. Okafor (2015) stated that if parents and community leader contribute their quota in helping Education Marshals, the task of keeping children in school will be greatly reduced.
- There should be adequate reorientation of school children to understand the importance of education. Olisa (2013) stated that if school that if school children are aware of the importance of education, the rate of truancy will be greatly reduced and as a result reduce the worries of Education Marshals in trying to make school children remain in school.
- The government should ensure that Education Marshals are provided with enough vehicles to make aid effective surveillance activities of the Education Marshal, as this will help them to effective patrol all the streets in search for school-aged children engaging in truancy.
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