The Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila on Sunday shed more light on why the house was opposed to the merging of Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Religious Studies in school curriculum.
Gbajabiamila (APC-Surulere I) told principals of public schools and parents in his constituency in Lagos that such a merger lacked basis in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He said at a Town Hall meeting with the principals and parents that merging the two subjects infringed on the students’ right to choice.
Gbajabiamila also said on the occasion distributed 500 free West African Senior School Certificate (WASSCE) forms to indigent students across the 23 schools in the area.
He said the Constitution guaranteed the right of all citizens to freedom of religion and choice, adding that merging the two religious subjects and making it compulsory for students was unfair.
According to him, religion is a very sensitive issue in the country which needs to be handled carefully at all times.
“The House of Representatives has taken a position against the merging of CRK/IRS because it is not supported by the constitution.
“The Constitution, as a matter of fact, guarantees the freedom of everyone to choose and practise the religion of one’s choice.
“So, we think students should be given the freedom to choose to take either IRK/CRK based on his or her religious conviction or interest.So it should be optional.
“Also, students should be allowed to take either of the two subjects irrespective of their religion if they are interested,” he said.
Gbajabiamila said the distribution of 500 WASSCE forms to students was part of his electoral promise to impact on his constituents.
The lawmaker said education was strategic to the human capital development as well as the development of the nation, hence the distribution of the forms.
According to him, the distribution of the forms to indigent students is to solve the problem of affordability and encourage them to focus on their education.
The lawmaker said the distribution of 501 e-tablets to students in the first quarter of the year was one of the education interventions in the area.
He said that he had also facilitated the renovation of schools as well as building of new blocks of classrooms.
The House Leader said he had also given scholarships to students and provided ICT tools in schools to promote educational development.
He said he was passionate about education and had concluded arrangements to give more support in the area.
“I am passionate about education and I will continue to support education in my constituency.
“Apart from what we have done so far, we have earmarked N8 million for the purchase of JAMB forms for about 500 students.
“Very soon, that will be done and much more will follow, “he said.
Gbajabiamila said he would make out time to visit schools in the area and interact and teach students.
The lawmaker said the objective was to have a feel of the learning environment in order to know how he could intervene.
He commended the principals and teachers for the job they were doing to improve the lives of children put in their care.
Gbajabiamila appealed to parents to continue to support their children and wards in their educational careers so that they could excel.
He, however, decried rampant street fights involving some students of some schools in the area, describing the attitude as worrisome.
The lawmaker urged parents to warn their wards against the act, as the government could not afford any threat to peace in the area.
In his contribution, a member of the Lagos State of Assembly, Mr Desmond Elliot, commended Gbajabiamila for his passion for education.
He said it took a politician who could look into the future to give a quantum of education support.
“I have never seen a politician who has given so much back to the people since my over 40 years on earth.
“He has a view of the future with his support for education. Surulere is proud to have him as a representative, “he said.
Responding, a parent, Alhaja Wosilat Abiola, described the house leader’s gesture as “impactful”.
She said the forms would touch the lives of the beneficiaries as it would help them to build their personal careers.