FCT’s ru­ral schools in dis­re­pair

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION - By Ab­dul­la­teef Salau

Most peo­ple liv­ing in the ru­ral ar­eas of the Fed­eral Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory (FCT) have less ac­cess to qual­ity ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion, as many schools op­er­ate un­der poor con­di­tions. Pupils study un­der di­lap­i­dated build­ings with leak­ing roofs, de­tached doors and win­dows while teach­ers hardly get in­struc­tional ma­te­ri­als.

There were al­le­ga­tions that teach­ers in vil­lage schools faced the chal­lenges of low salaries and in­suf­fi­cient ac­cess to rel­e­vant pro­fes­sional learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

This wors­en­ing con­di­tion sub­jects the pupils to un­told hard­ship and makes knowl­edge ac­qui­si­tion a dif­fi­cult task.

In in­stances where fa­cil­i­ties are not too good for learn­ing, school man­age­ments in col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cals, erect makeshift class­rooms from wood and roof sheets as seen in Kasada, a com­mu­nity in Kuje Area Coun­cil of the Fed­eral Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory.

A res­i­dent, Musa Ibrahim, said since the de­struc­tion of the school build­ings by rain­storm few years ago, chil­dren have been tak­ing lessons in the makeshift tents.

Ham­pered by gov­ern­ment ne­glect and other fac­tors, the con­di­tion of many ru­ral schools in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal calls for ur­gent at­ten­tion. While schools in Abuja city and ma­jor towns at­tract pos­i­tive com­ments from visi­tors, the same can­not be said of many of the schools in FCT’s hin­ter­lands.

Aside the dearth of fa­cil­i­ties for con­ducive learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment, less qual­i­fied teach­ers is another chal­lenge fac­ing many of the ru­ral schools in the area coun­cils as the pupils are left un­der the tute­lage of un­qual­i­fied per­sons.

Teach­ers who re­fused to go to ru­ral ar­eas mostly cited long dis­tances, near ab­sence of ba­sic ameni­ties and lack of in­ter­est by stu­dents as well as poor mo­ti­va­tion as ma­jor prob­lems.

Ex­perts said the poor or nonex­is­tence of school in­fra­struc­ture and lit­tle or no pro­vi­sions of other ba­sic ameni­ties in vil­lages neg­a­tively im­pact the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion for ru­ral chil­dren while poor qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, in turn, will only con­tinue to per­pet­u­ate longterm poverty in the hin­ter­lands.

Although a num­ber of schools were said to have been re­ha­bil­i­tated through Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goals (MDGs), there are still lots of com­mu­nity schools suf­fer­ing from dearth of in­fra­struc­tures.

In Rubokya com­mu­nity, Kuje Area Coun­cil, the derelict state of the school, res­i­dents said, has ad­verse ef­fect on aca­demic ac­tiv­i­ties as pupils in dif­fer­ent grades take lessons in one class­room.

Garba Haruna, the vil­lage head, said: “Since de­struc­tion of some of the school build­ings by wind three years ago, all the pupils were crammed in the only class­room left.”

The vil­lage head, who ex­pressed worry over the poor state of the school build­ing, said the cost of rais­ing the com­mu­nity’s ci­tadel of learn­ing to lofty heights was be­yond their power.

The pri­mary schools in Gafere, Tukuba and Gbaukuchi com­mu­ni­ties are in dire need of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. Most of the class­rooms have leak­ing roofs with­out doors, while oth­ers have been com­pletely de­stroyed by wind.

A res­i­dent of Tukuba, Zakariya Shek­waye, said the pri­mary school in the com­mu­nity was in a sorry state. “Its struc­tures and other ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties are in a state of dis­re­pair.” The sit­u­a­tion, he said, “has been a source of worry to the com­mu­nity and the school man­age­ment.”

Daily Trust vis­ited the school re­cently and found out that there were four blocks of class­rooms there, two of which have been de­stroyed. The re­main­ing two blocks where pupils take lessons were with­out doors.

The pri­mary school in Kaho da Hannu vil­lage was with­out fur­ni­ture, leav­ing the pupils with no op­tion than to sit on the bare floor dur­ing lessons. The com­mu­nity head, Ibrahim Chuka, said the few fur­ni­ture in the school were dis­carded ones he brought from a pri­mary school in neigh­bour­ing Pegi.

Gaza Dog­ara, a pupil in the school, said while some of his col­leagues have chairs, oth­ers sit on the floor be­cause there were in­suf­fi­cient fur­ni­ture in the class­rooms. He said: “Had it been the chief had not brought the few chairs, all the pupils would have been sit­ting on the floor.”

Gwag­wal­ada Area Coun­cil is not ex­empted from these chal­lenges. In Shishida, Konkole and Ang­wan Pada, chil­dren trek for about 30 min­utes to neigh­bor­ing Yel­wan Zuba to get to school.

The vil­lage head of Shishida, Shuaibu Mai-Angwa, who ex­pressed dis­may over the sit­u­a­tion, said the chil­dren have to en­dure the long trek to school be­cause par­ents could not al­low their chil­dren roam the com­mu­nity dur­ing school hours.

“Though the stress is over­whelm­ing for the chil­dren, there is noth­ing we can do to help the sit­u­a­tion be­cause our chil­dren need to be ed­u­cated,” a res­i­dent Musa Shishida said. He pleaded for the es­tab­lish­ment of a pri­mary school in the com­mu­nity.

Un­like Shishida, res­i­dents of Ang­wan Dio polled re­sources to­gether to con­struct a block of three class­rooms to re­lief their chil­dren of the long trek to Yel­wan Zuba.

The Par­ent Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (PTA) chair­man of the school, Adamu Saleh, said be­fore the class rooms were con­structed, chil­dren re­ceived lessons un­der mango tree; a sit­u­a­tion he said ex­posed the chil­dren to un­told hard­ship due to the un­friendly weather con­di­tion.

In Dawaki Pri­mary school, six class­rooms are man­aged by three teach­ers. Of­fi­cials said the grow­ing en­rol­ment of pupils in the school has over­stretched the fa­cil­ity. They there­fore pleaded for up­grade of the school fa­cil­i­ties to im­prove ac­ces­si­bil­ity and re­lieve crowded class­rooms with ex­tra space.

Ab­sence of fence in Dakwa Pri­mary School, a com­mu­nity un­der Juwa ward in Abuja Mu­nic­i­pal Area Coun­cil, has in­creased the tru­ancy rate among pupils, Daily Trust learnt.

The vil­lage head, Shuaibu Daudu Samu, who de­scribed the tru­ancy rate as alarm­ing, said the sit­u­a­tion has be­come a source of con­cern to the school man­age­ment, par­ents and the com­mu­nity at large.

“Af­ter break pe­riod, some of the chil­dren don’t re­turn back to their classes. They sneak out of the school through the bush,” Samu hinted.

Schools in re­mote vil­lages in Kwali also face sim­i­lar or­deal. The head of Mai-Le­leyi Bassa vil­lage Muham­mad A. Sanusi said chil­dren in the com­mu­nity don’t at­tend classes when­ever it rains.

Sanusi dis­closed that the mo­ment it starts rain­ing, the chil­dren would not stay in class­rooms due to leak­ing roofs. Teach­ers ask them to go home un­til the rain stops be­fore they go back.

“The in­struc­tional ma­te­ri­als are in­suf­fi­cient. Teach­ers are few. The struc­ture is di­lap­i­dated with the roofs of some classes leak­ing,” he said, adding that the en­tire struc­ture needs to­tal ren­o­va­tion.

When con­tacted the FCT Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary Mr. John Chukwu said gov­ern­ment was em­ploy­ing more qual­i­fied teach­ers es­pe­cially in the ru­ral ar­eas and will em­power school man­age­ment to carry out teach­ing and learn­ing assess­ments regularly.

He said good value school in­fra­struc­ture were be­ing pro­vided in ad­di­tion to teach­ing aids across the ter­ri­tory, adding that more schools and class­rooms were built “where the en­roll­ment fig­ure in­creased.”

Mr. Chuckwu said one ad­di­tional science sec­ondary school will be es­tab­lished in the ru­ral ar­eas to meet the need of pop­u­lace.

Class­room roof blown off by wind in Yaupe Pri­mary School, Bwari

Fall­ing class­room ceil­ing at Gafere Pri­mary School, Kuje.

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