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C’River pupils study under mango trees, collapsed buildings

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By Ike Uchechukwu

By Ike Uchechukwu

IKOT EFFIONG OTOP- Pupils of Government Primary School, Ikot Effiong Otop, Odukpani Local Government Area, Old Western Calabar, Cross River State, now learn under mango trees and malformed structures.

NDV learned the safety of about 1,000 pupils of the school is not guaranteed, as they learn under partially collapsed structures, raising serious concerns among parents and guardians.

Teacher, pupils in a dilapidated   classroom
Teacher, pupils in a dilapidated classroom

No response from govt- Community leader

A community leader, Chief Bassey Ekpenyong, who is the head of the school’s committee, said he recognised the school as a place of learning, adding: “We have cried to the state House of Assembly, the Ministry of Education and the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, to rebuild and upgrade the facilities, but no response.

“This school had no rival in the Old Western Calabar. It’s academic performance and sporting strength were unrivaled even down to Creek Town where the Scottish missionary, Mary Slessor settled in 1895. Today, teachers refuse posting to the school due to the poor state of facilities in the school,” he said.

Our classrooms horrible- Head teacher

The head teacher, Mr. Bassey Okon Ekpenyong,  told NDV that the school founded in 1958 by the community, was handed over to the then South-Eastern Government in 1972, adding:  “The school needs total renovation. All the classrooms are bad. The wind storm that affected even the old block meant for the primary three pupils that was hit by wind storm is equally suffering the same fate. We appeal to the Cross River State Government to come and rescue us.

“This rainy season, we do not know where to go as pupils sit outside under these mango trees to receive lessons. Before now, the school population was about 1500 with 35 teachers, but now we have 23 teachers only. The school enrollment is now gradually falling below 1000.

SUBEB has tried but…

“We do not have security and perimeter fencing. Not enough desks and tables. When I came herem, pupils were sitting on bare floor. The present SUBEB Chairman, Dr. Stephen Odey has tried by giving us 65 plastic chairs in the first phase of intervention, 2012 – 2015 and 23 chairs in the second phase of the intervention. This is not enough. We are sending SOS to the state governor, Ben Ayade, to rescue us,“ he asserted.

We’ll address problem Dr Odey, SUBEB chair

On his part, SUBEB Chairman, Dr. Stephen Odey, told NDV that the Board was aware of the poor state of the school and that UBEC intervention project was a continuous exercise.

He said: “SUBEB will address this matter when the renovation of projects exercise begins. The level of damage caused by infrastructural decay in schools is far too great when we came in 2015. In the last exercise, we provided desks and we shall continue to provide all that is necessary to provide a more conducive leaning atmosphere, he assured.

Education Commissioner gives directive

Contacted, Commissioner for Education, Mr. Godwin Ettah, instructed the director of schools in his ministry to write officially to SUBEB for appropriate action and to communicate with him within one month since primary education is not within his jurisdiction.

Finding by NDV showed a pathetic situation in most schools in the state where children sit on bare floor to learn due to years of infrastructural decay and abandonment by previous administrations.

A source, however, stated that the Governor Ben Ayade led administration had accessed the 2012 – 2015 and the 2016 UBEC Statutory Intervention Funds and the challenge was being tackled by various Millennium Development Agencies, MDAs, involved.

 

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