DECREPIT LEARNING FACILITY AS A POINTER TO OUR SOCIETY'S SOUL
Sometime in the week just gone by, DailyPost published an investigative reportage on the state of infrastructure in primary schools in parts of Enugu State. That effort yielded a tale of woes as no respite could be found in any of the select schools. Yet, It isn't as if only schools with despicable infrastructure were cherry-picked, further checks by this writer indicated the grim situation is pervasive across hinterlands in the state and I suppose other parts of the country.
The wretchedness ranges from lack of chalks to collapsed or collapsing buildings. There are other cases of pupils having to sit on bare floors to receive lessons with their teachers using their motorcycles as improvised desk and chairs. This indeed does not allign with what Herber Hoover believe of children when he referred to them as "our most valuable resource."
If we see the children as our most valuable resource, we won't have sentenced their education to the back-burner or treated it with this monumental negligence. It will be instructive to present the situation in detail as this will help reveal our society's soul as Nelson Mandela postulated: "there can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children"
There are over 200 pupils at the Central Primary School in Ozalla. These pupils are contained in a pre-colonial dilapidated structure infested with holes. According to the teachers in the school, they have been trying to get the attention of government towards the completion of an abandoned classroom block to no avail.
One of them said in confidence: "you can see that uncompleted classroom block, it would have reduced our problems. When the headmaster was posted here in 2010, he got the phone number of the contractor but when he called the contractor, he said that government had not paid up the agreed contract amount to enable him finish the building."
The teacher continued, "Another problem is that we don't have enough seats,tables and public convenience. You can see for yourself that our pupils sit on bare floor while many sit on logs. When we got to Enugu last time, they told us that they don't have even chalk to give us. We use our money to buy chalk here. We need the help of government!"
Similarly, at Egbu Primary School Amalla Orba in Udenu Council Area of the State, a teacher lamented, "Our school is in total collapse. We don't receive any help from both the local and state governments. We use our money to buy chalk and other teaching materials. Most of the pupils sit on dusty grounds to receive lessons." Notice the recurring decimal.
Even in quarters where this decimal is not expected to revert, it still persists! What do you say when this abysmal situation obtains in a local government council reputed to have produced the highest number of professors in the South east geopolitical zone with over 60 professors to its credit?
That local government council is Igbo -Etiti. In one of its schools- Union Primary School, Akaibite, Ohebe Dim, one of the teachers painted a picture not different from what have become of most public primary schools in the state.
The teacher whose identity can't be revealed for obvious reasons said, "many pupils don't attend schools during rainy season for fear of the building collapsing. Painfully, the school is supposed to be the centre for the Common Entrance Examination this year, but, we were denied this because we don't have seats talk more of other facilities for the comfort of both the candidates and examiners.
"We have made several appeals to the government but nothing is coming our way. The parents have done the best they can all these years. So right now, we are surviving by the mercy of God. But my concern is for the pupils because I wonder how they would compete with their counterparts in other parts of the country."
The plight is so dire that one of the pupils interviewed said he would like to be a computer scientist so as to invent a machine that will be able to detect lies owing to our politicians' predilection for telling lies.
The pupil who is in primary four said, "I am not happy that our school does not have seats and tables for both teachers and pupils. We are begging government to help us provide all these and even renovate our school building. Many of us sit on the floor during lessons while our teachers sit outside on their motorbikes to mark our classwork."
Don't be misled into thinking this only happens in Enugu state. It in no way exonerates other states in the country when it comes to providing the necessary infrastructure for education to thrive. After all, the immediate past Chairman of the same Igbo-Etiti clinched the prestigious ALGON best Local Government Chairman Award!
If he could have won this honour in spite of the poor state of public primary schools in his domain, then you can better imagine what hold sway in other councils across the country where the award eluded their chairmen. Now we can better appreciate the state of our society's soul!
In the words of the U.S. Senator, David Vitter, "I continue to believe that if children are given the necessary tools to succeed, they will succeed beyond their wildest dreams." We cannot expect our children to make so much wave in the future when we have left them with no wave at the outset. The tommorrow fruits of our children is planted today.
One expected the kvetching teachers to talk about the government not paying them their salaries promptly, but they were silent on that aspect. This shows a little effort by the Enugu state government to enhance education. They should thus go a step further into meeting the infrastructure needs of pupils and their teachers in the state.
They should stop the act of ignoring complaints coming for schools especially those in rural areas. Since these schools are far- flung, complaint coming from their headmasters and headmistresses should be accorded great attention.
The society should be made to understand that meeting the needs of schools should not be left solely for the government. Good spirited individuals who are financially endowed also have a role to play. They should emulate their peers in other climes who set up foundations devoted solely to promoting good education.
The fact that these children are the ones to take over every strata of our society in the future calls for our getting actively involved in their educational welfare.
Lady Bird Johnson- a former U.S. first lady once asserted, "Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." One of the ways we can believe so much of our children is by providing them with the needed infrastructure required for effective and efficient learning. Let's get about it!
Written By Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi