Raises the alarm over infrastructure decay in others
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
In order to prevent imminent building collapse, the newly inaugurated Standing Committee on Rehabilitation of Public Schools, SCRPC, has ordered the immediate sealing-off of some public school buildings and evacuation of pupils in Badagry Local Government Area of Lagos State, following the discovery of the apparent failure of structural integrity on the affected buildings.
However, SCRPS which has commenced immediate audit of10 identified public schools with infrastructural decay challenges needing urgent intervention in the axis, described the condition of those affected schools as “alarming.”
Recall that the state Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu in fulfillment of his promise to invest in the education of pupils recently, approved the rehabilitation of 60 public schools, 10 per educational districts across the state and subsequently, inaugurated SCRPS, on November 4th, with appointment of members and Process Compliance Audit, saddled with the charge to comprehensively address the extensive dilapidation of physical infrastructure in public schools in the state.
Also, while presenting the year 2020 budget proposal to the state House of Assembly for approval, last weekend, Sanwo-Olu placed education as a top priority with plans to spend N48 billion on education and technology. This represents a 60 per cent rise in capital allocation to the Ministry of Education compared to former budget allocations.
Chairman of the committee, Mr Hakeem Smith, speaking with newsmen, yesterday, when he led other members on a detailed assessment of the structural, electrical and environmental rehabilitation required in public schools in Badagry area, to kick start the exercise across the state, said the measure became necessary to prevent avoidable loss of lives due to neglect by immediate past administration which abandoned most of the on-going school projects inherited from his predecessor.
Some of the schools marked for immediate removal and intervention include; A two-storey block of classrooms at Ajara Senior Secondary School, Ajara, which was said to have been vibrating for quite a while, especially during rainfall, Salvation Army Primary. School, Ibiye, Araromi Ilogbo Secondary School, Oko Afo, Community Primary School Obele Esepe, Local Authority Primary School, Ajido, all in Badagry educational districts.
The committee visited the other four schools for inspection.
The chairman of the committee ordered that the two-storey block of classrooms at Ajara should be vacated forthwith pending full conduct of integrity test on the structure and pupils be relocated to other safe buildings in the premises for learning.
According to Smith: “We decided to visit Badagry first because of its ancient history. And sincerely, what we found out here its quite alarming, unpleasing, with the state of infrastructural decay, overcrowding of classes in our public schools.
“But we are not overwhelmed, because one of the major focus in the T.H.E.M.E.S’ agenda of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration is education with the aim to boost the quality in the state.
“Don’t forget that the governor has also declared a state of emergency in the education sector as well. We are ready to hit the ground running. We will be back in a few weeks time for proper inspection of the structural integrity test in our public schools after the conclusion of the audit.
“On the defective buildings identified, we are going to have the structural integrity test conducted as soon as possible. I believe we have a competent team to deliver this without any delay. We can’t afford any loss of lives due to neglect
“Our mandate is to get the technical team down here (Badagry) and come back as soon as possible for fixing. We will be carrying out the exercise in all other educational districts.”
Meanwhile, other challenges identified for intervention by SCRPS include; overcrowding of pupils in a class viz Avis inadequate blocks of classes for learning as those available are those mostly constructed as far back as 1845 by colonial masters, lack of water supply, perimeter fencing, functional toilets, access roads, inadequate teaching staff, among others.