By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa Private schools are springing up in droves in Yenagoa the Bayelsa State capital. While some of these schools do not have standard playground to enable the pupils actualise their potentials in the areaof sports, they however have magnificent structures most of which are attracting parents.
Interestingly, most of the rich, especially senior government officials are the very ones patronizing these private schools while the public schools wallow in decay, a development that prompted Governor Seriake Dickson to declare an emergency in the education sector (public schools) and went ahead to invest heavily in the sector.
Though much is expected from the government given the inherent decay in the sector caused by many years of neglect, many are nonetheless optimistic that with the measures so far taken and fund invested, the state may get it right in no distant future. Most of the schools are in deplorable condition, lacking desks and chairs to make learning conducive for the students.
In some of the schools the classrooms are overcrowded due to large student population making teaching a cumbersome exercise for the teachers.
The situation is worst in the riverine hinterland of the state where most of the teachers are hardly at their duty posts only to resurface at the end of the month for their salaries and vanish into thin air again.
These categories of teachers were only exploiting the far-flung location of their place of work convinced that the supervising officials from the Ministry of Education would not venture out of the comfort of their offices in Yenagoa the state capital.
Corps members posted to the communities in the hinterland are most often left to take the students in more than three subjects due to truancy on the part of the teachers in the employ of the state government.
Dickson on assumption of office declared emergency in the educational sector to address the decay of school infrastructure across the state. Aside taking away the burden off parents by providing free compulsory education and provision of free uniforms to the pupils and students in primary and secondary schools. Though a noble gesture by the government, the contractor who supplied the uniforms did a shoddy job by supplying uniforms which are under size with the result that most of the pupils are forced to fly their shirts since they cannot tuck in as required.
The state government through the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) also awarded contracts worth N3.5 billion for 300 schools while the state Ministry of Education awarded contracts for another 200 schools valued at about N1.9 billion. The 200 primary schools include headmasters’ and teachers’ quarters with an inspectorate team set up to monitor the jobs.
Saturday Vanguard also learnt that as part of the programme of upgrading the school infrastructure, the state education commissioner further awarded contracts for secondary schools bringing the government investment in the sector to over N6bn According to the governor the contractors were mobilized up to 40 per cent of the contract value to ensure speedy completion of the the products due to the to the importance that his administration attached to the sector.
Also, boarding facilities are being built in secondary schools across the state beginning with schools in Yenagoa so that full boarding education could start in the next two to three years. The governor had assured that after providing boarding facilities in some secondary schools in Yenagoa such as St. Jude’s Girls Secondary School, which is ongoing, the senatorial districts and the constituencies would later follow.