South East Voice

September 9, 2020

Our public schools are in bad condition, South-East parents cry out

Our public schools are in bad condition,  South-East parents cry out

Section of the dilapidated building of the Odovie Primary School in Ughelle North Local Government Area, Delta State.

• Abia: Schools handed over to churches, individuals in dilapidated conditions
• Enugu: Many rural schools in bad shape
• Imo: We’re identifying dilapidated schools for immediate rehabilitation
• Revoke schools’ handover to missions in Abia —CLO
• Abia monarchs lament deplorable state of schools in their communities
• Churches sell off some schools’ premises in Abia

Section of a dilapidated building of the Odovie Primary School in Ughelle North Local Government Area, Delta State.

By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chinonso Alozie, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Chinedu Adonu, Ikechukwu Odu & Nwabueze Okonkwo

ENUGU—In years past, public primary and secondary schools were the schools of choice. They had good classrooms with good chairs and desks as well as well trained teachers.

Above all, they were affordable. But today, the story has changed. Most of the public schools are in shambles, in a state of deterioration, some with leaking roofs, no chairs and desks.

There were reports of cases where pupils study under trees. Even those handed over to the churches are not better off. The story is almost the same in all the states of the zone with the rural schools being worst hit.

However, some of the states rose to the occasion by embarking on rehabilitation work to change the condition of the schools.

In Anambra State, the condition of the public schools even those of the missionaries, is not too bad, thanks to the administration of the immediate past governor of the state, Mr Peter Obi, that embarked on massive rehabilitation of the schools.

Most of the schools in the state can be said to be in good shape with a good learning environment. The good thing in the state is that there are no dilapidated structures in most schools in Anambra State.

Recall that the former Governor Peter Obi, after returning 1, 040 primary schools to the various missions that owned them, also gave them N6 billion to enable the missionaries to run and operate the schools effectively.

ALSO READ: Delta community appeals to Okowa to fix dilapidated primary school

Expectedly, the missionaries embarked on the renovation of the schools such that most of them were a sight to behold.

In fact, the return of the schools paid off as the state has been recording excellent results in national examinations in the past eight years.

Abia monarchs lament deplorable state of schools

In Abia, the schools handed over to churches and individuals identified as original owners are in dilapidated conditions and most of them no longer have students and teachers.

Abia State government had in 2012 during former Governor Theodore Orji’s administration, handed over schools to churches and individuals identified as original owners but  South East Voice gathered that most of the churches and individuals who benefitted from the exercise have started selling off school lands and renting classrooms to tenants.

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, had during the 2019 World Teachers’ Day, in Umuahia, lamented that many schools already handed over to original owners were not doing well and would be returned to the government to maintain the state’s leading position in the education sector in Nigeria.

However, investigations revealed that government through the Ministry of Education has not made any effort to ameliorate the situation.

Some of the schools handed over to missions and individuals are now in dilapidated conditions and lands sold off. Such schools include: Secondary Technical School, Aba; Wilcox Memorial Comprehensive Secondary School, Aba; All Saints Secondary School, Aba; Girls High School, Aba and Eziama High School, Aba.

Wilcox Memorial Secondary School, handed over to the United Evangelical Chuch, lack teachers and students, even as classrooms have been partitioned and rented out to tenants. Except the Ovom Girls High School, Aba, handed over to the Anglican Church, which has been given a facelift with new storey buildings built; other schools have been overgrown with weeds.

According to a retired Principal in Aba, “The schools were better when they were being managed by the government. Today, visit any of the schools handed over to churches and individuals, they are all in deplorable conditions. They employ unqualified teachers while the government ones have been transferred out. The schools are no longer conducive for learning.”

Lamenting the dilapidated condition of Secondary Technical School, Aba, located in Ehere community; the traditional ruler of the community, Eze Young Nwangwa, said that most of the schools handed over to churches and individuals have been mismanaged with lack of qualified teachers, dilapidated buildings with part of the school lands sold off to the public.

“The government had good intentions in handing over the schools to the churches and individuals but some of them were ill-advised because some of them never knew how the schools were built in the first place. Some of these churches and individuals who got the schools returned to them by the government are now selling off part of the school lands.

“Others have converted classrooms to living rooms and rented them to the public. Most of the schools lack qualified teachers and have become centres for examination malpractices. It is high time the government takes over these schools from some of the churches and individuals. Ninety percent of the land belonging to Secondary Technical School, Ehere, has been sold off; people have erected fences and buildings on the school compound.

“Classrooms have been partitioned and rented out to tenants.  What kind of learning could take place in an environment where trading takes place and students share classrooms with tenants? It is high time government revisits this policy of handing over school to these churches and individuals who are now selling off the school premises.”

Revoke schools’ handover to missions in Abia —CLO

Also commenting on the deplorable situation of schools handed over to missions and individuals, the Civil Liberties Organization, CLO, in a statement signed by the Chairman, Aba Unit, Prof. Charles Chinekezi, described the policy of handing over schools as ill advised and not well not thought out and urged the state government to return the schools to the government to save the educational future of students in the state.

It said: “CLO urges the Abia State government to immediately review the policy of handling over schools to missions and original owners. The policy was ill advised and not well thought out. Government never considered that some of these missions and original owners do not possess the capacity to manage the schools handed over to them.”

CLO further stated that its findings revealed that parents and guardians have withdrawn their children from most of the schools handed over to the missions and individuals due to the inability to manage such schools.

“Most of these schools no longer have students while others lack quality teachers. Our findings revealed that school lands are being sold off to private individuals, classroom blocks are rented out to tenants. Some of the schools have become abode for weed smokers.

“Any portion of school premises found to have been sold off must be recovered. We urge Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to urgently review this policy of his predecessor and return the schools to government to save the educational future of our children.”
South East Voice  also observed that the Amato Ukwu Secondary School in Osisioma Ngwa Council Area lack classrooms as some students learn under trees while others struggle for space with the primary school classes.

READ ALSO: Dilapidated school structures caused by stakeholders’ negligence — LASUBEB

Traditional ruler of the community, Eze Okwuchi Jim, in an interview, explained that due to inadequate classrooms, the community primary school and the secondary school section now share classrooms.

The monarch further stated that the situation is no longer conducive for learning as a result of the increasing population of the primary and post primary schools.

Eze Jim said: “Since last year, I have been asking the Principal of the school if he has informed the state Ministry of Education about the lack of classrooms and huge population of students. I wonder the kind of learning that can take place in such an overcrowded environment such as the schools in my community. The problems of lack of classrooms even started before I became a traditional ruler. The government should come to our aid.

“Our  community secondary school has no classrooms; they are managing same classroom blocks with the primary school pupils.

“The community secondary school is over populated from the junior secondary section to the senior secondary arm, yet no classroom. The secondary school shares the same classroom with the primary school section. We have also made several appeals to the government”.

Reacting on the poor state of the schools, the Commissioner for Education, Dr. Kanelechi Nwangwa, who spoke through his Media aide, Mr Bestman Eruba, explained that Governor Ikpeazu’s administration inherited the problem and is making efforts to address the situation.

Enugu: Many rural schools in bad shape

In Enugu State, many rural public schools were hitherto in very bad shape until Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi embarked on aggressive rehabilitation of the schools in urban and rural areas, including schools owned by the churches.

The aim, according Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is to provide the pupils and students a conducive environment for learning.

A striking example was the marvelous rebuilding of the famous Ekulu Primary Schools, now All Saints Nursery and Primary Schools, after being returned to the Anglican Church, the original owners.Expressing joy over the development, the Archbishop of Anglican Church, Enugu Province, His Grace, Emmanuel Chukwuma lauded Governor Ugwuanyi’s commitment on repositioning schools in Enugu State, saying that missionary schools were not left behind.

”We are very grateful on what governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is doing on Education sector. There has been a serious neglect of schools belonging to missionaries in the nation for a very long time.

“But thank God for the recent intervention of Enugu state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to reposition missionary school by revamping it to a conducive learning environment.

“We are thanking the governor that during his leadership the schools in Enugu has been given a face lift, and we are urging the ENSUBEB to do more so that all the schools in Enugu that is not in good shape will benefit”, Archbishop Chukwuma pledged.

“The chairman of Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board, ENSUBEB, Chief Ikeje Asogwa has assured that similar massive interventions are ongoing in state-owned public schools across the 17 councils of the state.

“Also, in Nsukka zone, the Chief Supervising Principal, Obollo Afor Education Zone, Ukama Urama, disclosed that all the secondary schools within the zone are in good shape in readiness for the school reopening.

“Urama, while commending the Enugu State Government for aggressive renovation of dilapidated infrastructure in secondary and primary schools in the state, said that the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has decontaminated and fumigated the schools in the state even before the ongoing West African Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE started.

“She ensured that the renovation exercise would touch all secondary schools where it has not reached, saying “a lot of jobs are currently ongoing in schools where the renovation programme of the state government has not gotten to”.

Imo: We are identifying dilapidated schools for immediate rehabilitation

In Imo State, the Government said that it has visited over 2,000 schools for purpose of identifying those due for rehabilitation and reconstruction.

According to Governor Hope Uzodimma’s Senior Special Assistant, on Public Enlightenment, Arinze Nwokedi, the government plans to renovate all depilated public schools.

According to Nwokedi, a report of the visitation of these schools had been submitted to the governor and the necessary procedures would be taken to commence work on those ones that were marked for renovation.

“There is no need for fears because we have the 3R agenda, the reconstruction, rehabilitation and recovery; it is very explicit on the issue of rehabilitation.

“When we talk of rehabilitation we are not only talking about the structural rehabilitation of the schools and we are also looking into other areas to give quality training to our children.”

“We are ever ready. The SSA to the governor on primary schools rehabilitation, Kate Osuigwe, has just toured about 2, 800 schools in the state and she has made her report on the structural defects of these schools.

“And she has noted the ones that need immediate rehabilitation and even before the schools resume and right now it is on the table of the governor who has shown enough reasons why these schools should be rehabilitated to the standard so that our children can be given quality education.”

“Just like I told you all of us are interested in the attitudinal change of these children so that all of us can be proud of them as leaders of tomorrow”, Nwokedi said.

In his advice, a community leader in Anambra State, Chief Ozoh Anaekwe called for more schools to be returned to the missions and be assisted by governments to run them.”

“What government should be doing in the school system is providing incentive and funding to the Churches to manage both Primary and Secondary Schools.

“Management of Primary and Secondary Schools are better done by the mission (Churches) because they train children better not only in academics, but also morally, it was when government got involved in management of primary and secondary that we started hearing about cultism and other vices like rape and others.”

“The more government give incentive, subvention to be able to pay the teachers and upgrading infrastructures in the school, the Church will not only give them academic teaching but also moral teachings, so that they can have fear of God.”

“When you teach a child to fear God, he will be more useful than the one you train to fear human being, one day he will grow not to fear human being again but if you train a child to fear God, even if he is sleeping and wake up, that fear of God is in him”, Anaekwe said.

Vanguard News Nigeria.