Dowen College: From exalted school to scene of homicide investigation – Seye Olaniyonu

Dowen College: From exalted school to scene of homicide investigation – Seye Olaniyonu

The tragic death of Sylvester Oromoni, a student at the now shut down Dowen College is shocking.


Even more befuddling is the unprofessional manner in which the management of the school handled the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate death.


While the swift response of the Lagos state government is commendable, what is the purpose of the indefinite shutdown of the school? Why punish the entire students of the school? In fact, the question begs answering: why do we like shutting things down? It is like our answer to all things. Our default response is always to shut things down.


The best approach, in this case, is to commence an investigation immediately.


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Dowen College


The authorities of Dowen College and anyone remotely connected to the death should all be arrested; while the government should appoint an independent administrator to pilot the affairs of the school while the investigation is ongoing. With this, the school authority will not be in any position to influence the investigation; tshe students will not be sitting idle at home and consequently lag behind in their studies; while the workers in the school will also not go jobless.


The government has done this several times to save banks and other institutions. Schools are not just profit-making entities. They are more than that. The Lagos State Ministry of Education can appoint seasoned administrators with experience in managing reputable schools to pilot the affairs of the school. The administrator will be answerable to the government and the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of the school. He/she can also ensure access to the school for the investigation and equally assure the parents of the students that the kids are safe.


Furthermore, the interim management can review the anti-bullying policy of the school; its safety and other measures to prevent a recurrence of such tan avoidable tragedy.


Even if after the investigation, the proprietors/owners are culpable; the state can sell the school to investors who will continue to run the school. As a matter of fact, schools should not be owned by sole proprietors for several reasons. Schools are public goods and government have the responsibility to ensure they stay afloat. The UK government in 2019 and 2020 appointed an interim management for Christ Embassy and MFM respectively.


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Tonto Dikeh calls for commemoration of Sylvester Oromoni's 12th birthday at  Dowen College premises


At this point, I am sure you are thinking, ‘we are talking about life here. ‘Someone died,’ well, what is the assurance that other schools you are taking your child to are also safe? We got to hear about the terrible things happening at Dowen College because someone died. In most schools, we are just one incident away from another tragedy.


Even in a church-owned school, Deeper Life High School, Idoro near Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, a pupil was molested. Several persons who attended Catholic Seminary Schools have experienced molestations.


Nigerians like faux outrage on issues. Someone even tweeted ‘burn down the school’. Such outrage will not fix the educational sector. This is a wake-up call. If you think there is bullying at Dowen College, take a trip to federal government colleges and other government-owned boarding schools.


The outrage should be about creating policies on safety for all these schools in Nigeria. School regulators need to be proactive, because they, alongside the PTA of Dowen College, are culpable in this tragedy. In schools in Nigeria, we have entrenched a culture of bullying, passed from one generation to the next. A deep dive into the past of the loudest on social media will reveal a horrific history of bullying.


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Dowen College
The deceased Sylvester


In the next couple of days, everyone will move on, leaving the family of the deceased Sylvester to fight for justice. For many, this is an opportunity to milk the tragedy for contents. Some have even started fighting on the tragedy, while others are doing a lot for “visibility”. The point is, social media outrage is a means to an end. #JusticeforSilvester is important but preventing a recurrence, ensuring other innocent students of the college are not left floundering and ensuring teachers and other workers in the school do not end up jobless are also important.


Will the teachers be paid? No one is talking about them. They did not commit any offence. An interim management will ensure continuity while the investigation is ongoing.


This is very crucial because as, we know, in Nigeria, this investigation could go on for years.

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