- Stakeholders express concern, task government
BY TIMOTHY AGBOR
Dilapidated classrooms, collapsed roofs, cracks on walls, fallen windows, lack of clean toilets and basic amenities of learning have become visible hallmarks of some public schools in Osun State. The decaying state of infrastructure in some primary and secondary schools across the state has become a source of great worry for stakeholders.
The problems are becoming rampant in Osogbo, the capital of the state while rural communities share a larger prevalence of the educational rots. Checks by The Point revealed that the decay and neglect have been attributed to decline in enrollment of pupils in public schools and deteriorating level of out-of-school children in the state.
These problems persist despite that education has been one of the top sectors taking substantial allocations in the yearly budget estimates of the state.
Out of the N198,854,051,640.00 presented by the immediate past governor of the state, Gboyega Oyetola as 2021 appropriation estimates to the State House of Assembly, N10,711,328,430.00 representing 18.08 percent was allocated for the education sector. Similarly, the education sector took a chunk of the 2022 budget of the state as Oyetola allocated the sum of N26, 609,411,740.00, which was 21 percent of the total budget size of N129, 756,450,790.00.
The Point findings showed that the administration of Oyetola didn’t build a single classroom in the state during its four years tenure. Aside from reversing some controversial policies of single uniform, mixed schools, 4-5- 3-4 structure among others initiated by his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, the former governor (Oyetola) also said that his government renovated schools across the state, provided educational materials as well as trained and retrained teachers to improve their performance.
However, visits paid to some primary and public schools by our correspondent revealed that the institutions of learning are in ruins as pupils and students risk their lives learning inside decrepit classrooms. It was gathered that most of the schools were built between the 50s and 80s and the recent structures found in the premises of the schools were blocks of classrooms built under the Universal Basic Education project. The few basic learning equipment in the schools visited were worn out while the schools lack laboratory and food science equipment.
It was discovered that some of the schools lack modern toilets while some still make use of dirty pit toilets. It was gathered that this situation has been forcing pupils and students into open defecation as most of them find comfort in defecating inside bushes in their surroundings. At Gbeja L. A. Primary School, Osogbo, which was built in 1955, some sides of the classrooms were already falling off as cracks dotted major parts of the walls.
The roofs have holes while some blocks of classrooms were already abandoned due to total collapse. Because of this abandonment of infrastructure, The Point gathered that the situation has led to overcrowding of the remaining classrooms that are being put to use by the management.
The Point gathered that some youths of the area who used to play football in the school pitch have been contributing to the deteriorating conditions of the roofs as the ball would always hit the roofing sheets and do damage whenever they play on weekends. The abandoned classrooms, it was gathered, are being used by some private tutorial vendors who teach candidates preparing for WAEC and UTME examinations.
There is no toilet within the school premises. It was learnt that pupils visit nearby bushes to defecate. The situation was not different at AnsarUd-Deen Primary School A and B, Oke-Baale, Osogbo as some teachers and students who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity complained of neglect, deplorable infrastructure, lack of manpower, lack of learning equipment among others.
The school environment was bushy and dirty when our correspondent visited as the pit toilet erected at the front of a block of classrooms was in bad condition. The level of infrastructural decay at some schools visited by The Point in Ilesa was more worrisome. Some of the schools included Nawair-Ud-Deen Primary School, Odo-Iro, which has become desolated owing to total infrastructural collapse, Holy Trinity Primary School, L. A. Primary School, Cherubim and Seraphim High School, United Grammar School, among others. In Ile-Ife, it was a similar picture of decay and abandonment of infrastructure.
When our correspondent visited Idita Grammar School, Moore, Ile-Ife, blocks of classrooms had collapsed with roofs blown off with no doors or windows. The structures have been abandoned by the school management while the few classrooms were being occupied. Neither successive governments in the state nor old students remembered these decaying schools despite that they have churned out crème de la crème of the society.
The schools have remained in pathetic states as their products spread across the world, blossoming in their chosen fields without looking back. On the other hand, governments have been looking away and only paying lip service to the rehabilitation of these schools. At NUD Grammar School in Osogbo, the students said their classrooms are not in good condition of learning and appealed to the state government to rehabilitate the schools. Established in 1980, Nawair-Ud-Deen Grammar School located at Oke-Baale in Osogbo has produced countless successful individuals from all walks of life but the 42 year old school has received little attention from government over the years, a situation the old and current students of the school are worried about.
Most of the classrooms in this school were only filled with worn out chairs while the structures are old and in a state of disrepair. They also lack good toilets and other basic facilities.
WE’RE DRENCHED INSIDE CLASSROOMS WHENEVER IT RAINS – TEACHERS, STUDENTS
Stakeholders, including teachers and students, have bemoaned the deteriorating conditions of infrastructure in Osun public schools and called on the state government and other concerned individuals to come to the rescue of the education sector in the state. According to some of the students and teachers who spoke with The Point, whenever it rains, their clothes are soaked because of licking roofs and fallen windows. One of the teachers at C&S High School, Ilesa, who spoke in confidence, said, “year-in, year-out, promises have been made to revamp infrastructure in our school but nothing concrete has been done.
You know we are civil servants and we can’t complain openly, that’s why the school has remained in this situation. We hope that your visit will make the new administration do something and rehabilitate the school or better still, build new structures for the convenience of both teachers and students.”
A student, Lateef Lawal, said, “Infrastructure in our school is very bad now. As you can see, the classrooms are not conducive for learning. There are no windows and enough chairs for us. The roofs have been leaking since I came to this school and during the rainy season, rain beats us inside our classes. So, we are appealing to the state government to please renovate our school.” For another student, Abdul Akorede, “the school environment is porous and exposing students to danger. We want the government to fence the school and rehabilitate the building. We don’t have basic amenities and our laboratories are not well equipped. Our libraries are filled with outdated textbooks.
We want the government to provide us with chairs, tables and other materials that will make learning convenient for us.” A parent and one of the old students of NUD Grammar School, Osogbo, Babatunde Yahaya, a Professor of Statistics, decried the rot in his alma mater, saying, “there is a total neglect of the school by the state government in terms of infrastructural development, in terms of maintenance, even in terms of staffing. Among the issues the students want addressed is the condition of their classrooms which they said is not conducive for learning as well as provision of perimeter fences for the school to stop invasion by hoodlums.”
STATE RECORDS HIGHEST NUMBER OF OUT-OF-SCHOOL CHILDREN, PERFORMS POORLY IN EXTERNAL EXAMS
Stakeholders have attributed the sharp decline in enrollment in public schools and poor performance of students in external examinations to shortage of teachers, rots and infrastructural decay. In the WAEC performing index data pub lished by a data firm, StatiSense, last year during the administration of Oyetola, Osun State came last, ranking 36th in the West African Examination Council among public secondary schools that wrote the examination across the country.
The state ranked 36th among all other 36 states, including FCT and became the worst performing state in the WAEC examination. Also, the state has the highest number of out of school children in the South West according to the 2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS-6), a National Bureau of Statistics data supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund. Explaining the survey last year, UNICEF Social Policy Specialist, Muhammad Okorie, said 14.88 percent male children in Osun and 11.5 percent female, making 13 percent average rate, were out of school in the state.
WE’RE COMMITTED TO FIXING PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURES – ADELEKE
Meanwhile, upon assumption of office last year, the state governor, Ademola Adeleke, had expressed shock at the poor state of public schools across the state, promising to launch a 100 day infrastructure upgrade.
The governor had embarked on a tour of some schools and healthcare facilities in Osogbo, observing the deplorable conditions of infrastructures in many of the facilities. Adeleke had a hard time accessing the John Mackay’s Government Elementary School in the Oke-Ayepe area of the capital city as the road leading to the school was completely cut off. The school head broke down in tears while narrating the ordeals of staff and pupils.
Adeleke had to trek almost a kilometer to access the school only to find the class blocks and other essential facilities in terrible conditions. A visibly worried Governor Adeleke decried the state of the school and wondered what could have happened to the reported expenditure that the past administration claimed went into upgrading infrastructures in public schools. The governor noted his discomfort at the fact that staff and students are forced to stay under such terrible situations and declared his administration’s readiness to fix the situation and ensure learning under a conducive environment. He said, “I have an ambitious programme to upgrade Osun infrastructures across health, education, roads and water supply.
This government will prove that good governance is possible with sincere leadership. My inspection is to have a first-hand view in addition to the field reports from my team. What I found in places visited are unacceptable. Our citizens deserve better in all respects. I am taking up that responsibility with clear goals and targets. We will fix Osun public infrastructures.” As Governor Adeleke has embarked on some projects to mark his first 100 days in office in March, this year, stakeholders and citizens in general have called on the governor to prioritize rehabilitation and complete overhaul of public school infrastructures before all of them will totally collapse.