State Of Schools In Benue State

By Daniel Omaga

There is no doubt that corruption exists in all sectors in Nigeria. The corruption in the educational sector is a frequent occurrence although it varies in sizes and shades from one state to another.

As a result of poor leadership and woeful planning, the public schools system has become dysfunctional across Benue state and the sector has become an arena of inefficiency and a cesspool of corruption. For instance, the conditions of public schools in Okpokwu Local Government Area, one of the first local authorities in Benue State and my immediate constituency is quiet disheartening and pitiable.

From Edumoga through Okpoga to Ichama, the condition of these public schools is the same. The schools surroundings have become havens for several species of grasses and wild animals. The buildings have become dilapidated and academic activities are literarily crippled. The less privileged ones, who have no other alternative, usually receive lessons under the trees as there are no chairs or roofs to give them shelter.

Since the return to democracy in 1999, Okpokwu has been on the good page of political relevance in Benue State having produced a Minister, State Party Chairman of the PDP, Commissioners, Special Advisers and most recently, the exalted position of the Deputy Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly. Aside these political gladiators, we are richly blessed with several illustrious sons and daughters who are heads of parastatals and agencies, and others who have done well for themselves in their chosen carriers.

Children attending public primary schools in Benue Statewere stuck at home for over eight months following a prolonged strike by their teachers for non-payment of their salaries.

While we celebrate those who have taken bold steps to establish private schools, our leaders need to be reminded that the public schools in Okpokwu and other parts of the state need some enhancements since most of these private schools are out of the reach of the masses. This is just one of the ways our politicians can give back to the grassroots, who elected them and not by the continuous sharing of offering monies, salts, meats and wrappers as it is customary.

The public schools system is looking for the era of change to spill some benefits on them through the wind of change that is now blowing. If the public school system can be given its deserved attention, by improving their infrastructure, improving the quality of teaching and learning, and improving the lots of teachers, the state of education would improve and the effect of 'change' would reach the grassroots level.

Teachers occupy a pride of place in the scheme of things and should be given their due respect and entitlements instead of debasing and ridiculing them with insults and subjecting them to unnecessary hardship. Governments should be made to honour their salary obligations to teachers by making their monthly salaries a priority among competing items on the budgets. Our public schools and teachers deserve more from the Benue State government under the present political dispensation.

Comr. Omaga Elachi Daniel,
PRO, Benue Elite Development Network.

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