Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The Diamond Jubilee celebration of St. Maria Gorreti Grammar School, Benin City, Edo State, provided a fitting opportunity for the Old Girls Association to reflect on their little beginning and the desire to give back to the school that impacted them.
The four-day event was spiced with various activities including free medical care for those within the school community and planting of trees to commemorate the day.
The girls who have now turned women, wished they could turn back the hands of time as they remembered the moral values the school once instilled in students, better infrastructure and a conducive atmosphere for learning and yearned that it returns to it past glory
In their view, the only way this could be achieved is when the school is given back to the Catholic Missionary to run.
Mrs. Felicia Obehi Otaigbe, national vice president of St. Maria Gorreti Old Girls Association (SMAGOGA) described the 60th anniversary celebration as a milestone.
Mrs. Otaigbe who represented Mrs. Ogieme Orujiakpor, president, St. Maria Gorreti Old Girls Association, added “I left the school in 1973. We have some of our seniors here who are foundation members of the school when it started in 1959.
“It has been worthwhile, we give God the glory. We have our women, they are doing very well in their various fields despite the government taking over the school, we are still impacting on the school.
“The standard of education has dropped drastically, you find students going to take their exams in ‘Miracle centres’. We are trying to put an end to it by mentoring them, by giving them scholarships.
“Four years ago, only one student could pass the JAMB from this school, all of them went to ‘Miracle centres.’
“What is your certificate after having the best results in your WAEC and you cannot even pass JAMB? It is worthless. So, we are trying to mentor them and bring the school back to its past glory. Our prayer is that government should come and see what the old girls have done .
“We’ve just constructed the fence in the school. We want to stop this invasion of the school by hoodlums and youths coming into the school premises to play football.
“The government is cooperating with us. It has put a ban on people coming into the school premises to play football so that the place will be conducive for learning 24 hours of the day. That is a right step in the right direction but they have asked us not to do any major projects. Go to the school, you will see the chapel’s building is dilapidated.”
Mrs. Blessing Igbinedion, president, Benin branch of SMAGOGA, said Internet facilities should be installed in the school, because the world has gone digital and the school must move with the trend.
Dr. Esther Ben Chika, a set of 1983 student, said they would keep praying and fighting until the school is given back to the “rightful owner.”
“We need our school back. Let the government return the school to the missionary and we, the old girls, will continue to pray and fight until the government brings our school back because the school made us who we are. We are pioneers in every field that you can think of in the world.
“We want the younger ones like us to follow the trail that we have started” Dr. Chika said.
Mrs. Christy Imasuen (nee Okosun), who left the school 31 years ago, said virtues and morality have been thrown into the wind while the infrastructure have been left in a sorry state.
“We are pleading that the school be returned to the rightful owners and let them manage it and bring back these values into this girl-child,” she pleaded.
However, the celebration was soured by the Princess Eunice Egbebawaye. She slumped and died while dancing with the current students of the school.