FEATURES All hands on deck to ennoble Ondo school
The collapse of postprimary secondary education is a source of concern to lovers of education, and those who were moulded to greatness by the same system. To say that the standard has collapsed would be apt in putting the situation in a proper perspective. From cultism, gangterism, examination malpractices, sexual abuse and above all the decrepit state of school infrastructures, the education system has suffered years and years of neglect, resulting in loss of glory by many schools that were hitherto true citadels of learning.
The Federal Government Girls’ College Akure (FEGGICOLLA) located in Ondo state is one of the unity schools in Nigeria established on October 28, 1977. The school since inception has turned out 35 sets and produced women who have become successful women in business and government.
As the school celebrates 40 years of existence in October 2017, the Alumni Association of the school has taken up the challenge of bringing back the old glory of the school ,which has equally been a victim of the woes bedeviling education in the country. Conscious of the security challenge in the country and the need to secure the future of the girl-child, the association formed some years ago has launched a project to provide security infrastructure, lights, classrooms, dormitories, laboratories and boreholes for the school.
The association is worried by the dwindling fortunes of its Alma Mater and is therefore galvanizing members spread across the world to give back to the school. A fund-raiser was held in Lagos recently to raise N100m for the projects set aside to lift the school and commemorate its 40 anniversary. Apart from being an occasion to solicit funds for the schools, it was also a reunion for the old students who were resplendent and relished the old memories of their days in FEGGICOLA.
But the merrymaking did not overshadow the import of the gathering. They were pained by the situation of their alma mata – the collapsed infrastructures, insecurity, lack of electricity and other facilities that could make learning much more seamless. However, they see the challenges as an opportunity for them to come in and give back to the school , which prepared them for who they are in all facets of life.
To the Alumni Association, N100m may be a huge amount, but with the commitment and seriousness of the members, they could raise more than that which would be spent on rebuilding the school and restoring the old glory.
Managing Director/Chief Executive – Agilent Wireless Ltd, Mr. Lawrence Anirejuortise Wilbert who is also a product of Unity School was the guest speaker at the fund-raiser who raised concern about the declining standard of learning even in the Unity Schools.
He said, “There is considerable evidence on the quality of schools for poor people in developing countries, the schools are poor. Teachers are less qualified and often less likely to come to work, fewer hours of instruction are offered, teaching methods emphasize rote learning more than investigation, textbooks and instructional materials are less likely to arrive on time, and the physical infrastructure of the school is more likely to lack electricity, water, sanitary facilities and other basic features. The quality of school affects learning, progress and completion.”
The lecturer also lamented the neglect of the girl-child in provision of qualitative education, saying the girlchild has been subjected to discrimination, especially in the northern parts of the country. According to him, the trend must change in order to safeguard the future of the girlchild.
According to him, “The girl child suffers from low selfesteem, when preference is often made to the boy child, particularly in the home.
“Higher susceptibility to reproductive organ illnesses and other illnesses associated with early child birth and sexual violence, leading to infertility and complicated associated health challenges that further impact the number of girls that can advance their education.
“A number of studies have shown that increasing the number of girls benefiting from education has a positive effect on a country’s per capita economic growth.”
According to him, government must strengthen anti-discrimination legislation and also religiously implement the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) especially goal five which seeks to end all forms of sexual abuse on the female children.
He stressed that the provision of safe and supportive educational environments is needed, free from abuse, with separate toilet facilities and safe drinking water for the girlchild..
“The school curriculum should be revised to ensure gender and cultural sensitivity, and to include life skills, HIV/ AIDS education, citizenship and conflict resolution elements.”
President of the Alumni Association, Orie Mong Vann stressed that the old students were propelled by the love they have for their school to launch the N100m project, which would complement other initiatives they have put in place in the past.
“…We are doing what we are doing, building the future of our girls. In line with this, we intend to provide security infrastructure for the school, providing illumination to the streets, classrooms, dormitories, laboratories and boreholes using the solar energy and reinforcing the perimeter fence. This was borne out of the security threat in the country. We therefore implore those of you present and other well meaning Nigerians to contribute to this important project.”
To the old students of the school, the project is bigger than the association. One of the old students, Mrs. Morenike Awosika who spoke from Maryland, US said, “I am part of something bigger than myself, something we can put together to lift the standard of our alma mater and the education of girl-child.” Ms. Oseyemi Fagbamigbe said the reality on ground at the school is pathetic. This, she noted, explains the commitment of the Alumni Association to raise the standard of the school. “We want to illuminate the school, the dormitory, the laboratories. So we need to extend this to people we know, our family members, and our colleagues at work to support this course.”
Principal of the School, Mrs. Rose Idehen said the intervention of the old students is very welcome to complement the efforts of government. She said, “Well, I took over as principal in February this year and sometime ago in 2013, I came to the school for inspection and when I came to become the principal, there are some slight differences. The reduction in PTA levy has affected some of our activities.
“Now that the old girls are celebrating their 40 years, the school will quite appreciate that areas of intervention; the security and the solar system they proposed will be very good. It will add to the life of the school because we have challenges with electricity and it is quite expensive generating through alternative energy, which is the diesel and petrol. It would be very good if they bring this solar powered light.”
A portion of the school environment.
Entrance to the school