Lawmakers in the Lagos House of Assembly recently paid a visit to some model colleges in the state, where they were treated to some horrifying scenes, including a school where students, as a result of moribund toilet facilities, defecate in the open, and another where students are paired on worn-out mattresses. Lagos State House of Assembly correspondent, Chukwuma Okparaocha, in this report, highlights what the students go through on daily basis.
The poor state of education in the country was last week again brought to the front burner with the sorry state of the some public schools in Lagos State.
Saturday Tribune’s attention was brought to the state of some model colleges in Lagos, where students are not only overcrowded in their dormitories; they are often forced to defecate in the open, among other hard conditions they are subjected to daily.
A visit to the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, in Epe area of Lagos would reveal a school whose students and members of staff appeared to have been cut off from the society as a result of the school’s location and the poor state of the roads leading to the school, whose facilities and hostels are apparently overstretched.
A trip round the school revealed that the students were being subjected to what a visiting lawmaker later described as ‘inhuman condition’ in their hostels, which could be seen to be already overpopulated and unkempt.
The school library has been apparently converted into an examination hall without any provision for an alternative library, which could be used by the students for research purposes.
As earlier mentioned, also in a terrible state is the road leading to the school, as it has been covered with huge potholes and some part were almost overgrown with weeds.
By the physical observations made in the school, the hostels are jam-packed so much that the students’ lockers where they keep their personal belongings and confectioneries are left on the corridors outside.
The chairman of the Committee on Education in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Olanrewaju Ogunyemi, who led a tour of the school, was quick in condemning in strong terms the state of infrastructure in the state’s model colleges.
He subsequently advised the state government to urgently address infrastructural challenges in the state-owned model colleges so as to restore the lost glory of the schools and sustain the visions of their founders.
“The facilities in the hostels are inadequate, we see a lot of cramping of beds and we saw that it is not conducive. There is a hostel there that has been abandoned since the school was established, if the building is completed, it would go a long way to improve the hostel facilities,” he said.
But in his reaction, the principal of the junior section of the school, Mr. Bolaji Oyesola, who led other members of staff to receive the committee members, said that a room had actually been converted into a library for the students.
Oyesola added that the school management was trying to make do with what it had within the limited resources.
“We take care of their feeding very well and give them water. We make sure that the students are comfortable. We have been managing what we have since the school was established in 1988. The facilities were meant for below 200 students, but now we have over 1,000 students,” he said.
The situation is pretty much the same in another school, the Badagry Junior and Senior Grammar School, in Badagry area of Lagos.
The Education Committee of the Lagos State House of Assembly, led by its chairman, Hon. Olanrewaju Ogunyemi, also paid an unscheduled visit to the school on Wednesday, 16 March, where they went round the offices in the school, the classrooms, hostels, dining halls, kitchens, libraries and the laboratories.
They were received by the principal of the senior arm of the school, Mr. Mautin Olubiyi Akoro and that of the junior arm, Mrs. Ebun Ikuomenisan, as well as the teachers and other members of staff.
While inspecting the hostels, Ogunyemi and another member of the committee, Sola Giwa, expressed surprise that the facilities were unkempt and that they were congested.
“It is obvious that the teachers in the school restrict themselves to their offices and classrooms. This is dereliction of duty and it appears that the house masters are not doing anything.
“Most of the louvre blades are broken and the hostels are unhygienic for the children. You have left the students to their fate without making any effort to address the issues affecting them in the hostels,” he said.
Ogunyemi told the school management that the hostels needed serious emergency intervention and that some of the rooms ought to have two doors as against one in the event of emergencies.
The lawmakers also observed that ventilation in the hostels appeared to be poor and that the food being served the students was “poorer than that of prisoners.”
It was also observed that an average of 80 students are in a class, while it was later confirmed that only two computer systems were working out of the 20 provided by the state’s Ministry of Education.
The lawmakers later paid a visit to another school, the Lagos State Model College, Kankon, Badagry, where they were received by the principal of the senior arm of the school, Mr. Sunday Olushina and his counterpart in the junior arm, Mrs. Ayo Stella Mojisola.
Addressing some of the students, Hon. Ogunyemi stated that the committee visited them to see how they were being catered for in their hostels, as well as to learn more about how the conditions they were subjected to was affecting their learning.
The lawmaker stated that this was being done in fulfilment of the promises made to all voters in the state, including the parents of the students, that their interest would be well served.
He, however, enjoined them to keep the best hygiene, obey the rules of the schools and keep their surroundings clean.
In the school, the committee frowned upon a situation where students were paired on a bed in the junior arm of the school and also with the way the hostels were stuffy and poorly arranged.
Addressing the press after the visit, Ogunyemi stated that the essence of the oversight was to let the lawmakers know the true state of things in the schools, and that they had been truly appalled by what they had seen so far.
“We know that infrastructure in education requires constant monitoring and improvement. That is what we need to do in all our schools, but the government cannot do it alone. We need public-spirited individuals, philanthropists, and even corporate organisations to come to the aid of education in the state.
“Also, we must ensure that our children learn under a very conducive atmosphere, where they live and what they eat is important to the overall success they achieve in life. That is why we say that in all that we have seen there are things the government must address,” he said.
He emphasised that the committee had met with the deputy governor of the state, who also doubles as the commissioner for education, and that she had assured that the government would work on improving infrastructure in all public schools in the state.
According to him, the deputy governor had also stated that the admission process in the state schools would be regulated to make sure that the number of students given admission was in line with the facilities on the ground.
The lawmaker, meanwhile, disagreed that the N25,000 being paid as feeding fees by each student per term should be increased, saying the cornerstone of the campaign of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was quality and free education.
“The N25,000 that is paid by each student per term is for feeding. Accommodation is free, tuition is free and some people have said that the money is not enough, but the government can look inward for a way to subsidise it,” he said.
“Education is meant to be a social service to the people; the essence of the government is welfare and the security of the people. Part of their welfare is good education and education should be accessible uninhibitedly, whether you are a child of the poor or that of the rich. We will continue to support free education, I would not subscribe to the fact that the fees being charged in state schools should be increased, but I feel that the parents can voluntarily support the government.
“We have the school-based management committees and parents/teachers forum, they can all come together and support the initiative of the government,” he added.
Ogunyemi also stated that an education summit was needed in the state as he said that it was important for parents to be involved more in the system.
He said: “In the summit, we must bring everything affecting education to the table and critically examine and proffer viable solution in moving education forward in the state. I am aware that the executive is also thinking along this line.
According to him, the principals of the schools should quickly carry out the observations of the committee, adding that a monitoring team had been constituted which will be going round from time to time to determine how the schools were complying with the committee’s directives.
The committee later visited Education District 5 in Agboju that is supervising the schools visited, where they were received by the Tutor General/Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Taiwo Iji Mary and other staff of the district.