By Dayo Johnson
LAST year, a 10-year-old pupil of All Saints Anglican Primary School, located at Oke Ijebu area of Akure, the Ondo State capital, was mistakenly shot dead by his colleague as he fiddled with a gun he found hidden in the school compound by suspected hoodlums. It was said that the hoodlums had taken advantage of lack of security in the school to hide their “instrument of office” there ahead of their next day operation.
The sorry state of the school due to its neglect by past governments made it easy for the hoodlums to use it as a hideout. The death of the pupil drew the attention of the state government which subsequently took steps to transform the school. Today it is the envy of other schools across the state.
Following the conducive learning environment this development has engendered, reports have it that guardians and parents have since been trooping to the school to enrol their wards ahead of its inauguration within the next few weeks.
A visit to the hitherto dilapidated school shows that only a few secondary schools would be able to compete with it in terms of structural development.
The entire dilapidated structures in the schools had been pulled down with a new model school structure put in place by the state government.
According to the Education Commissioner, Remi Olatubora, model schools were constructed by government across the state to further bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.
Olatubora said the schools were constructed under the new policy of government to make public schools in the state attractive to pupils and also ensure that the children of the rich and those of the poor were given the same opportunities.
According to him, the Caring Heart Primary School in Oke-Ijebu, Akure which had 21 classes would be admitting 25 pupils per class in line with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, UNESCO, standard.
“These schools have been built to modern standard. We have 21 classrooms in Oke-Ijebu with each of them expected to accommodate 25 pupils. The school has two sets of library; we have a conventional library and e-library; we have a standard office for the head teacher. All these are to make the education sector in the state more attractive.
“Already the state government has acquired school uniforms, school bags and shoes to be distributed to the pupils free as part of its social service and commitment to the development of education in the state,” he informed.
He added that each of the classrooms had been equipped with electronic board, standard chairs and tables to make learning and teaching more conducive for the pupils and the teachers.
The Commissioner also said the state government had re-trained the teachers to be deployed to the schools, while government would ensure that the pupils that were relocated from the school for the construction would be given priority in admission.
The state governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, who visited the school after the ugly incident told the teachers and parents of the pupils that government would transform All Saints to a first class school. Many did not believe him until the structures were pulled down and modern buildings started to spring up.
The Bishop of Akure (Anglican Communion), Rev. Michael Ipinmoye who also visited the school, urged the state government to also build a fence to prevent further infiltration of the school by hoodlums.
Dr. Mimiko while commiserating with the teachers and family of the dead pupil and the Anglican Church said that what happened underscored the decision of his government to build mega primary schools across the length and breadth of the state with adequate security provided.
“It is the determination of this government to ensure that our primary schools are not death traps. The fact is that many things we ought to have done earlier have been abandoned a long time ago. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, I know that we shall get there even if it takes time.
“This government is working on the building of Caring Heart Mega Schools in different locations in the state like Okitipupa, Ikare, Akure and Ondo. These mega schools are designed in a way to make them meet the taste of the moment in order to return the lost glory of the state in the education sector, ” he promised.
The Bishop in his reaction said: “The state government has done a super thing on that school”. The clergyman, who went down memory lane, recalled how he appealed to the Governor during his visit to the school to assist in making the old school secure for the pupils and teachers.
According to him:” It takes a government with vision for development and one with a caring heart to conceptualise the school and also ensure that it came to reality.
“The Governor during the visit said he would do something and true to his word he sent the people from the Ministry of Education to me to say that the state government wanted to carry out what I said as requested by me, they said they were going to pull the school down and build a mega school.”
The move initially generated some heat between the Anglican Communion and the state government because the school belongs to the church and we debated on the name it will now be called but we met and we gave government a portion of land.
“ Our comment is that that school as it is built there has world standard, I drove round it and what I saw is worth of our commendation that Ondo state government under the leadership of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko has done very well by building that type of high standard school in Akure here”.
“It is a good job done by the state government, if it is not the best it will be one of the best in the country, but in Ondo State where I live it is still the best, it is of international standard.
“The appeal I want to make is that these pupils that were taken away from the school, if they take them back, they should be given first class teachers, people who will work with these young ones to the level that they will excel among other schools.
Conducting newsmen round the school which is one of the twelve ultra-modern primary schools with state-of-the-art facilities build across the three senatorial districts of the state Information and Education Commissioners Kayode Akinmade said that the inauguration of the schools will coincide with the third year anniversary of the state governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko.
The multi-million naira school buildings which are ready to take their first intakes will be completely tuition-free with additional free supply of books, uniforms, shoes and bags.
Akinmade added that the schools were constructed in two types which include the Mega Schools and the Model Schools.
The Commissioner said that four of the mega schools are located in Akure, Ondo, Okitipupa and Ikare-Akoko, while eight model schools are located in Oka-Akoko, Ore, Ondo, Ile-Oluji, Araromi Obu, Idanre.
Akinmade said many of the schools were located in areas where the masses of the society live in order to ensure that the children of the poor in the society that the schools were built for are the original beneficiaries.
He pointed out that the intervention by the state government was expected to further improve the standard of education in the state and in the long run improve the ranking of the state as far as education development was concern in the country.