Concerned parents and stakeholders have raised concerns over the poor shape of facilities at public schools in Lagos State.
They expressed worry that the State Government is not showing enough commitment to providing basic facilities in the schools, wondering whether serious academic work can ever take place in the schools.
The Lagos State government has 1,005 public primary schools and 663 junior and senior secondary schools.
Speaking on the dilapidation of the institutions, especially secondary schools, some parents, teachers, students and other stakeholders criticized the government for merely paying lip-service to education development.
They described the condition of some of the schools as appalling, saying that meaningful teaching and learning would never take place in dilapidated learning institutions.
A parent, Mr Moses Edema, painted a sorry picture of the state of facilities at Ojota Primary School where he has a child, describing the school as an eye-sore.
“The roof of the school building was blown off some time ago while urchins have converted the place to their smoking base after school hours.
“Area boys walk in and out of the school to smoke Indian hemp because there is no security.
“This situation is very dangerous to health, learning and character formation of the pupils.
“The classrooms are over-crowded with about 200 students in a class while many of the students do not have chairs to seat on.
“Students had to bring chairs from home while those, whose parent could not afford to provide one, sit on the floor,’’ he said.
At the Lagos State Model Junior Secondary School at Badore, near Ajah, the environment looked disgusting with over-grown grasses and severe flooding of the premises.
Kids in the school were seen fetching water from wells in the school because of a lack of portable water in the expansive school compound.
Similarly, at Isale-Eko Grammar School in Jankara on the Lagos Island, a parent, Mrs Ronke Adelani, complained bitterly that indiscipline was high among students, arising from the poor shape of most of the schools.
Adelani noted that the school authorities needed to instill discipline in the students, as “many of them lack morals and the schools look very bad’’.
According her, many of the students always go to school as late as 9.00 a.m. with slippers, unkempt hair and tattered uniforms.
“The government should fashion out modalities to enforce discipline in the students as some of them look more like `area boys’ than students,’’ she said.
But a pupil of the Itire Primary School, Itire in Surulere, Mary Johnson, said the situation in most of the schools was not as bad as being painted by people.
Johnson said her class population was about 40 and that all students had a seat each.
“The only problem in my class is that the school does not enforce discipline.
“There is no sanction for late comers and this encourages lateness among students,” she said.
However, when contacted on the dilapidated state of the schools, Mr Seyi Adelusi, the Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, explained that the State Government was aware of the complaints.
He assured that the board would rehabilitate the affected schools soon.
Adelusi said that many primary schools had been earmarked for rehabilitation and that the schools in question would also benefit.
“The schools will be rehabilitated soon. It is one of the cardinal programmes of this administration to rehabilitate schools and we have identified them.
“The perimeter fencing in the schools will also be reconstructed as soon as possible,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Wing of the Nigerian Union of Teachers has blamed the gross indiscipline, among students in the state on government policies.
The Deputy Chairman of the union, Mr Adesina Adedoyin, speaking, said that the State Government had banned application of corporal punishment in schools.
Adedoyin said that if a teacher was to beat a pupil it must be under the supervision of the head-teacher and must be documented.
Apart from banning the use of corporal punishment, he said that government’s claims of implementing free education also contributed to the students’ lackadaisical attitude and parents’ irresponsibility.
“Free education must be dimensional; government, parents and students must be involved.
“Parents are no longer responsible because government said that they should not pay for anything in schools.
“We are talking of the pupils wearing tattered uniforms to school when they do not even have writing materials because government said that everything is free,’’ Adedoyin revealed.
According to him, the teachers cannot do much in correcting the poor dressing among students because of the restrain no to beat them.
“In those days, students were more disciplined because teachers had some measures of control over them through application of corporal punishments.
“That cannot be said of our students these days because teachers are unable to curb their excesses, especially their negative use of the internet,’’ he said.
However, the Sole Administrator of the Mosan-Okunola Local Government Development Area of Lagos State, Mr Rotimi Ogunwuyi, said that discipline was the watchword in schools in the area.
Ogunwuyi stated that there were neighbourhood watch and private security guards on ground in all the primary and secondary schools under his council.
“They monitor movement of the students during the school hours and prevent them from wandering around while classes are going on.
“We do not allow our students to roam the street during the school hours or condole lateness to school,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, worried by the disgusting outlook of many pupils in public schools, the wife of the state governor, Mrs Bolanle Ambode, came to the rescue to make the pupils look good.
Through her foundation, Hope for Women in Nigeria Initiative (HOFOWEM), Ambode on Sept. 27, distributed shoes and socks to 175,000 pupils in public primary schools in the state.
She said at the presentation that the items were given to the pupils to motivate them, boost their self-esteem and help them to appreciate their self-worth.
“It is disheartening to know that majority of pupils in public primary schools lacked shoes and socks to wear to school.
“The intervention of HOFOWEM is aimed at addressing such heart-breaking developments.
“Walking without shoes had resulted in many children getting sick and losing their toes to bacterial infections and other life-threatening diseases.
“It is essential for these children to wear shoes. Wearing shoes is not a luxury but a necessity.”