There is great veracity in the saying that “education is the best legacy for our children”. Perhaps this accounts for the reason some African countries like South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Morocco have adopted some relative economic measures to facilitate the learning of their young ones. In similar circumstance, the Lagos State Government has over the years, relentlessly trodden the path of their great patriarch (late Chief Obafemi Awolowo) by providing free and compulsory education to all at both primary and secondary school levels, at least. I know all this because some of my children are beneficiaries, the fact that I hail from Abia State notwithstanding. These days, much to my chagrin, this is not the same with the Federal Science and Technical College Yaba, founded in 1948 by the colonial masters.
In recent times, the college has been rocked by pockets of isolated economic problems. This is backed up by their strike action that commenced on June 12, 2017 in which some teachers and members of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps were seen at their main entrance gate chastising the students with whips. Unfortunately, some of the students returned home not only with their uniform torn but also with some grievous wounds that irritated their parents. Even some feeble looking boarders who came to the gate probably to collect provisions from their worried relations were horribly chased back to their hostels as if they were the cause of their agitation. During our school days, it was very hard to see uniformed military men in the streets not to talk of assigning them to colleges with assault rifles, even.
But, why was it too difficult for the management and staff to handover the minors to their parents before embarking on their strike? Besides, the action was so sudden and untimely that it happened when the senior students (SSS III) were writing their external examinations, which ironically indicated that the grass (students) had borne the brunt of the battle of the two elephants (government and teachers). In addition, there have been gruesome reported cases of malnutrition arising from poor diets and scanty meals, which the college authorities have attributed to poor funding. These days, boarders are hardly fed with milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables, meat, etc. to boost their energy and protein requirements, yet some of the kitchen staff and members of their family are well seen getting fatter and carting away with much portion of the food stuff belonging to the students. Nonplussed, I am averse to the irrational withdrawal of the lunch subsidy for the day students. Does all this general lack of empathy not clearly display a shambolic failure of our leaders to drive the Nigerian child out of his present economic squalors?
In reality, the water that has become the only free and abundant food in the refectory has not hygienically passed through the required purification process as there has been random cases of ill-health and hospital admission induced by food poisoning or contaminated water. It reminds me of sometime in 2015 when parents complained at the meeting that the tap water consumed by their children was not only coloured but, also of offensive odor. Consequently, when the bore-hole water tank of the male hostel was dismantled for washing, it was dominated by such impurities or bacterium like dead rats, lizards, assorted insects, worms, cobweb, spirogyras and boxer shorts, all to my dismay. Suffice to say that all this is incompatible with their inalienable rights as clearly enshrined in the 1924 first Universal Geneva Declaration regarding the Rights and Privileges of the Child. In addition, this was what led to the hospitalization and death of some students of Queen’s College Yaba, sometime this year.
Uwagbokwu Iroabuchi John
PTA member of FSTC, Yaba
In a related development, at the beginning of the term our children wards are persuaded to resume with some sanitary items like izal, Dettol, harppic, camphor’s, detergents and mop sticks; yet they frequently return home with infections that cost us a pretty penny. This does not include the humongous fund we provide for fumigation and replacement of mattresses. More also, our predicament has often been swept under the carpet which has also become the cause of our grievances at our various meetings and in the social media, at times.
UWAGBOKWU IROABUCHI JOHN
(PTA MEMBER OF FSTC, YABA)