Most schools resumed on Monday September 11 while others began academic activities on September 18 after a 90-Day vacation.

As it is a norm, schools carry out various kinds of environmental exercises few days before resumption while some others wait for students to return to tidy the environment.

Students especially in government established schools (public schools) are most times assigned with the responsibility of uprooting overgrown weeds in and outside the school premises.

These students are asked to bring cutlasses, hoes, brooms and other tools from home for this exercise. Failure to do so results in punishment on the part of the students. 

I was driving past a government established Nursery and Primary school somewhere in the Dopemu area of Lagos State and my mouth was left wide opened in disbelief.

Pupils whose average age should be between 5 and 10 were outside their school compound clearing the overgrown grasses.

These pupils were using their bare hands!

How in the world would the school authority subject pupils to this kind of unhygienic, dangerous and rigorous exercise?

That was the question that kept reverberating in my head when their colleagues in private schools do not get engaged in such.

Is it a crime for parents who can’t afford to send their wards to private schools to send them to government established schools?

Child Abuse

When Bounce News inquired from the Lagos State Government Education District Centre whether there is an existing law that prohibits students from being used as cheap labourers, surprisingly, there was none.

The centre, however, chided schools who are in the habit of using their students for such activities.

The Head of Administration Unit at the Alimosho/Agege Education District Centre, Mrs O.M Oshobu, who spoke to Bounce News said the habit is totally unacceptable.

She said, “The state government frowns against it in its totality. Students whether nursery, primary or secondary school are not sent to school to be used as cheap labour. It is child abuse and should be condemned.

“We are not aware of any school engaging in such but if any school is found culpable, the management will be sanctioned”. 

A principal of a government owned secondary school, who spoke on the matter said, it is wrong for any school to ask students to cut grasses with their bare hands. She said students can be exposed to various health diseases from the act.

“I always pay labourers to cut the grass in my school. I do not encourage the use of students for it at all; unless it is a means of serving punishment.

“Before they resumed on Monday, the labourers had already come in to clear the overgrown grasses”.

A parent, Mrs Chidinma Okechukwu, who has three children in a public school said, she has lost count the number of times she has bought farming tools for her wards.

“They come home every time telling me the school ask them to bring cutlass, hoe, broom to school when they are not farmers. I send them to school to learn not to be used as labourers."

We know our fingers are not equal but that doesn’t mean children who attend public schools should be deprived of quality education or their rights ignored.