By Elizabeth Uwandu
Students of Queens College, Yaba, Lagos, were in high spirits weekend as they returned for the completion of the 2nd term following a two- month shutdown even as there were expressions of dissatisfaction among some parents about the resumption arrangements.
The school was shut in February by the Lagos state Ministry of Education, following an outbreak of diarrhoea that claimed the lives of three students and left several others hospitalised.
When Vanguard visited the school premises Saturday and Sunday, several parents were seen accompanying their wards and assisting them to unpack their bags and baggage for screening at the school gate.
Expressing joy over the resumption, a parent, Mrs. Ngozi Obidiwe Chibuzor, who brought her daughter – Favour – a Senior Secondary Two student said she was elated the school had finally reopened and that her daughter’s long stay at home was finally over.
” You can see that am happy to bring my daughter back to school after the unfortunate incident that kept students at home for two whole months. I must commend the efforts of school management, the PTA Chairman, Queens College Old students Association, and the government to find it fit to re-brand the school in all ramifications.
“My only plea is that there should be better understanding and cooperation between the school management and parents. This will go a long way ton forestalling any future incident of this magnitude. ” she added.
Another parent, Dr Babayele Lookman, a Geologist who brought down his ward, Wejihat Babayele, all the way from Ogun state, observed that the school management should look beyond the euphoria of a happy resumption, but rather, seek measures to keep up the standard of the school and also put the sad incident behind.
“I am happy about the resumption. I must also call on all stakeholders to constantly see that the school’s standards are maintained at all times. There should be regular monitoring and evaluation of the school activities by parents. Beyond this, the issue of apportioning blame over what happened should be set aside,” Babayele noted.
Speaking on behalf of the students, the Head Girl, Ngozi Onwunze, noted that with the new development in the school and the openness of the new Principal, Mrs Bola Are, Queens College would be better than it was before the epidemic that ravaged it.
“While I can’t blame anyone over what happened, I can say that communication and relationship between the students and grandma – Mrs Are -is like that of mother and child. We have easy access to her and we can air our views without any restriction. So, despite my completion of my studies in QC, the students are in safe hands, ” Onwunze remarked.
There was mild drama exhibited by some parents that complained over what they described as insensitivity on the part of the school authorities for denying their children into the school because they failed to meet all the requirements set for resumption.
It would be recalled that the school management had instructed parents and guardians to bring along with their children new mattresses, mosquito nets and a five litre gallon for water for the safety of the children.
An angry parent told Vanguard that the school’s denial of the students was unfair, even as he cited factors such as finance, and non-specification of the size of mattresses to bring as responsible for inability of some parents to comply.
“Yes, I got the text messages sent by the school management that the students should bring mattresses , mosquito nets and a five litres gallon for water. But, I never knew they will demand for a new mattress .
“The school should consider that not all fingers are equal. And distance is another issue. For instance, I came from Ikorodu with my daughter. How do they want me to go back home with her?” He lamented.
Reacting to the complaints, the Chairman of the Parents Teachers Association, PTA, Sir John Ofodike, who was accompanied by the Chairman, Association of Civil Servants of Nigeria, Queens College chapter, Comrade Sarafadeen Oladejo, and other top management members of the school, explained that the school had to comply with the instructions of the Lagos state Ministry of Education for the safety of all.
“It is not that the school authority is insensitive,” Ofodike said. “These directives were given by the Ministry of Education for the safety of the students and to curtail the spread of infection that may arise due to bedbugs in old mattresses.
“ Life is precious and going out of the way to preserve it should not be questionable. We made our messages explicit that only students with new foams, new nets and new gallon of water will be allowed into the school,” the PTA chairman said.
It was gathered from a top management source that the school may compensate families of students who lost their lives during the outbreak of diarrhoea. Already, an insurance plan is being put in place for the bereaved families.