As schools resumed for classes after months of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Ondo State government has condemned the rate at which teachers are allegedly using pupils for menial jobs.
Doyin Odebowale, a senior special assistant on Special Duties to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, accused some of the teachers of sending pupils to engage in domestic works in their residence.
He alleged that the teachers, under the guise of agricultural practicals, engaged the pupils in house chores, cooking, and farming in their homes.
"We gathered that some teachers in schools in rural areas had formed the habit of using pupils to work in their private farms under the guise of doing agricultural practicals. Some send female pupils to be cooking for them," he said.
"We are sending a warning to teachers to desist from such acts. Our office will not hesitate to prosecute any teacher found abusing our children.
"The government is not asking the teachers not to instil discipline. The government does not interfere in the running of schools, but we insist the pupils must participate in agricultural practical in the school farms.
"We are going to monitor the schools and whoever is found wanting will be sanctioned. We will follow the law to sanction teachers. If you take pupils home to go and cook for you, to work on your private farms, we will invoke the law.
"We insist that nobody will take advantage of our children. Hire private hands to work on your farms. Whoever is caught will not find it funny.
Reacting in an interview, the state's chairman of Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools' of Nigeria, Tajudeen Balogun, said the allegation against the teachers by the governor's aide was not true.
Balogun explained that the teachers are currently busy with how to cover lost ground in the academic activities of students which were caused by the lockdown.
He said instead of the governor's aide to generalise the allegation against the teachers in the state, he should publicly mention the names of those engaging in such practice and the school they work for.
"Let him [Odebowale] go to any school in the state. All teachers are very busy now with their official duties because of the lost time caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have the best crops of teachers in Ondo State. Nobody should drag our names in the mud. We advise Odebowale to stop making the wrong allegation against us."