Public schools ‘crum­bling in Abia’

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION -

Most public sec­ondary and pri­mary school build­ings and fa­cil­i­ties across the 17 lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas of Abia State are age­ing and de­cay­ing in spite of mas­sive main­te­nance and in­fra­struc­ture fund­ing by the gov­ern­ment an­nu­ally.

A size­able num­ber of school build­ings in the state are vir­tu­ally di­lap­i­dated with leak­ing roofs, bro­ken fur­ni­ture, doors and win­dows; some com­pletely aban­doned, with tons of garbage, hu­man exc­reta and over­grown shrubs. Leak­ing roofs let rain cas­cade into class­rooms thereby cre­at­ing a dan­ger­ous learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

There is com­plete ab­sence of mod­ern mul­ti­me­dia, teach­ing and li­brary fa­cil­i­ties in hun­dreds of schools while most of the chalk boards in class­rooms were bro­ken.

The lack of clean­li­ness or poor toi­let hy­giene and us­age present a se­ri­ous risk of pass­ing in­fec­tion from one per­son to another es­pe­cially in schools lo­cated in ru­ral ar­eas.

Lab­o­ra­tory equip­ment were lack­ing in many schools and sports de­vel­op­ment fa­cil­i­ties were in most cases sub­stan­dard as football pitches were lo­cated in un­safe sur­faces.

A num­ber of tech­ni­cal col­leges re­quire more work­shops and tools across the state.

Holy Ghost Tech­ni­cal Col­lege Umuahia was es­tab­lished by the mis­sion­ar­ies in prein­de­pen­dence pe­riod and taken over by the state gov­ern­ment years af­ter in­de­pen­dence in 1960. The gov­ern­ment had vir­tu­ally failed to take swift and ef­fec­tive ac­tion to ad­dress most of the learn­ing prob­lems in the school but rather left the school in a pitiable state.

The gov­ern­ment re­cently re­turned the school to its orig­i­nal own­ers with crum­bling struc­tures and fa­cil­i­ties.

A teacher in the school, who prefers anonymity, said “suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments showed non­cha­lant at­ti­tude to­wards the de­vel­op­ment of schools,” adding that cor­rup­tion and poor su­per­vi­sion have left the schools in poor con­di­tions. He said gov­ern­ment handed over the schools to the church with­out suf­fi­cient fur­ni­ture, lab­o­ra­tory and work­shop equip­ment and that learn­ing fa­cil­i­ties in the schools were seem­ingly not up­dated since it was taken up decades ago.

He said, “You can see for your­self the state of the schools gov­ern­ment said they re­turned to the orig­i­nal own­ers. If you had come here some few months back you would have seen the level of di­lap­i­da­tion. Our prin­ci­pal, the Rev­erend Fa­ther has done much in terms of ren­o­va­tion still, it seem as if noth­ing was done. It isn’t go­ing to au­gur well if gov­ern­ments say they have re­turned schools with all these build­ings fall­ing to pieces, to the church with­out take­off grants.”

Ac­cord­ing to him, the state gov­ern­ment had with­drawn from nearly all as­pects of school op­er­a­tion but re­luc­tantly ac­cepted the pay­ment of teach­ers’ salaries for a pe­riod of time, while the church will take the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the day-to­day run­ning of the schools.

Com­ment­ing fur­ther, he said low teacher mo­ti­va­tion had led to neg­a­tive ed­u­ca­tional out­comes in the state in re­cent years. “The lack of mo­ti­va­tion is a press­ing prob­lem fac­ing teach­ers. The most ded­i­cated teach­ers in the state are as badly in need of mo­ti­va­tion as their stu­dents.”

He cited the de­lay by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of ‘27 per cent teach­ers’ salary in­cre­ment’ as a ma­jor set­back.

He said “the for­mer gover­nor promised to im­ple­ment teach­ers’ pay rise in 2010 and noth­ing was done un­til we were forced to em­bark on an in­dus­trial ac­tion.”

The

sit­u­a­tion

was

no dif­fer­ent in Gov­ern­ment Col­lege Umuahia, one of the sec­ondary schools the im­me­di­ate past ad­min­is­tra­tion claimed to have re­built along­side other schools such as, the for­mer An­nun­ci­a­tion Sec­ondary School Isuik­wu­ato and Umuocham Girls High School Abayi, Aba.

The roof of the of­fi­cial res­i­dence of the prin­ci­pal of Gov­ern­ment Col­lege was blown off by wind while the en­tire school build­ings in­clud­ing Ware­ham, Erekosima dor­mi­tory, staff room, stu­dents din­ing hall were ag­ing and de­cay­ing.

A num­ber of de­cay­ing build­ings had been aban­doned while toi­let fa­cil­i­ties were lack­ing in most of the class­rooms and hos­tels.

A teacher in the school said “ex­cept the new ‘24 class­rooms’ which are un­der con­struc­tion, there is ap­par­ently no new re­build­ing or ren­o­va­tion works go­ing on.” He said the new build­ings could solve some of prob­lem be­ing faced by the school if com­pleted.

He said the num­ber of stu­dents per class­room per teacher had dou­bled in the school, adding that there were “ap­prox­i­mately 70 stu­dents in each class­room that stretched from classes A to J from JSS 1 to SSS 3.

Another teacher, who craved anonymity, told our cor­re­spon­dent that such is the con­di­tion of al­most ev­ery school the gov­ern­ment claimed to have ren­o­vated. Ac­cord­ing to her, the school was op­er­at­ing in few class­rooms that “were re-roofed by the Old Boys As­so­ci­a­tion.”

Re­act­ing, the Chief Press Sec­re­tary to the gov­ern­ment, Mr. God­win Adindu, said Gover­nor Okezie Ik­peazu had iden­ti­fied four ‘most di­lap­i­dated’ schools in each of the 17 LGAs for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion there­after ren­o­va­tion works would be ex­tended to other schools. “Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of schools is part of the larger plan of in­fra­struc­ture re­newal cur­rently go­ing on in the state. I will like to in­form you that ed­u­ca­tion is be­ing given at­ten­tion by Gover­nor Ik­peazu’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

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