Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
The deplorable condition of physical structures at Esie/Iludun (Anglican) Grammar School (EIGS), in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State, was the sore point of discussion as old students of what used to be one of the most reputable post-primary institutions in the state held their annual national general meeting on October 19, 2019, in Ilorin with the theme “Resuscitating our alma mater.”
They expressed concerns as to why and how the highly respected school was allowed to degenerate to an unimaginable level of physical decay by government.
They lamented the rot and helplessness that now envelope the school reputed to have produced graduates who went on to become outstanding performers in their chosen professional fields within and outside Nigeria.
Going down memory lane, EIGS will be 60 years old by 2020, but the present state of structures would not justify Esie Iludun Grammar School’s reputation or its present existence; compared to EIGS of old, it is presently not habitable for animals, much less human beings.
However, it was not all gloom and doom as different sets of graduates from the college have put together varying amounts of resources to rehabilitate their alma mater. But, they agreed, lots of recovery works would still have to be done.
Some of the important issues raised at the meeting included the dilapidated state of physical structures in the school, including staff quarters, the low population of students in the college, and the need to make the environment safe in terms of security.
A member of the association, Mr Saliu Muatapha informed that the entire population of the school is presently not more than 150, describing it too pathetic especially as the college is strategically located.
He charged the old students not to limit support to the rehabilitation of the whole Esie/Iludun Grammar School, but to also do something to improve the general standard of the college.
“We must not expect so much from the government because government can’t do it all. We must be ready to give back to the society what the society has given to us by showing a very high level of commitment toward supporting our Alma mater,” he said.
Speaking at the meeting, a member of the committee earlier put in place by the national body of Esie/Iludun (Anglican) Grammar School Old Students Association on fact finding and renovation, Dr Femi Biala, observed that much would have to be done by every member of the old students association especially to sensitize other old students who may not be aware of plans to renovate the school.
According to him, “during the period we were given the assignment, we observed that, if really we want the school to return to its past glory, it must be run as a business.
“We need to reach out to other students, particularly those that are not aware of this association and its agenda must be adequately communicated.”
Dr Biala said the meeting served as an eyes opener because some of the ideas and suggestions given will be useful and relevant for the old students to reposition the school.
Professor Bashir Omipidan called the attention of members to time. “We must all be time conscious any time a meeting of this nature is called.
Omipidan challenged all the old students to take very seriously the plan and agenda of the association in order to be able to achieve them in due time.
He said members of his set, (1992 set) had earlier raised some fund and used it to carry out some rehabilitation exercise.
Mr Noah Oyebanji told members to seek for the support of the telecommunication organisations in the rehabilitation and provision of certain facilities that would enhance teaching and learning in the college.
He observed that most of the buildings in the school should be pulled down and reconstructed because they are weak and dangerous.
Mr Bukoye Oye called the attention of the meeting to the Principal and Teachers appointment, calling on the government to always consider old students in the two appointments.
He said this would go a long way in assisting the school, “If old students were appointed as staff of the school especially teaching staff, those employed would be more committed.
“Those appointed would also relate well with old students association, and be ready to contribute their best to the school.”
Dr Femi Ogunremi, explaining his experience recently when he visited the college, said just three buildings were functioning out of the entire buildings in the school compound, and the population of students stood at about 150.
“Don’t let us deceive ourselves, there is nothing to call a school there. So many things in that school have gone wrong. Apart from the structure, there is no chalk, no good staff and students’ furniture. We need to build the school.
“There are fundamental issues to be addressed. We need to build the school, and then ensure that it is run perfectly. Most of the old students are influential, so please let us use our influences to expose our Alma mater. And we should be ready at all time to give back into the system from the gains the system has given us.”
Another member of the association, Oba (Engr) Adewuyi Moses expressed joy over the participation of members at the meeting.
He suggested that any old student that has retired should be given a chance to teach in the college.
Ogunremi then called for a master plan by the central working committee. “This is very important, if we have to achieve our goals in a short time.”
Mr Efuntoye Titus commended some of the old students for their support for the school.
“I want to advice that we should always see Esie/Iludun Grammar School as our own,” he noted.
He, however, called for the creation of a better platform where all the members of the old students association can be able to reach themselves to forge ahead.
Efuntoye said the social media platforms must be according to set, and whatever is discussed should then be sent to the National body of the association.
Mr Ayodimeji Olamilekan Fatai called the attention of members to the issue of security in the school.
“We are all aware of the security challenges facing Nigeria, particularly education and students in school compounds.”
He advised that Esie/Iludun (Anglican) Grammar School, after the rehabilitation exercise has been carried out successfully, should be converted to a Unity School.
“What we need presently is to make the school habitable for students and workers before we start thinking of what else to be done.
“The school is seriously in need of quality hands, particularly the teaching staff,” he explained.
Also speaking, Mr Rufus Adewoye commended those old students who have raised money to carry out certain repairs in the school.
He then advised that the buildings should be put in place first, later other things would follow.
Mrs Funke Ibidoja said challenges ahead of the association are too numerous, but the problems should be taken one after the other.
Ibidoja suggested that after renovations, the school should be run like a private college.
“We need a driving force so that all what needs to be done can be done in a very short time,” she concluded.
In an interview with DAILY SUN at the end of the meeting, the chairman of the Esie/Iludun (Anglican) Grammar School Old Students Association, Pastor Micheal Dele Odetundun appreciated members for the turn out at the meeting.
“If this kind of meeting had been held before now, so many things would have been achieved for the school.
“Turn out of members in the past was always discouraging. Any time we called for meeting, we always had in attendance, seven persons or eight persons including the executives, but today I am so impressed and happy that our members are ready to answer the clarion call.”
He agreed that government alone can’t fund education for meaningful development. He said certain contributions have to be made with the effort of old students.
He also appealed to other old students of the school to come to the aid of the College.
The Principal of the school, Mr Dele Atomori thanked the old students for their commitment and contributions.
He said many of the staff posted by the government to the school were not always ready to stay and work.
He stated that the college has just six teachers presently and appealed to the old students on the issue of school bus to assist in conveying staff to the school and return them to their various homes after closing hours.
At the meeting, a video clip of the level of decay of the school was shown to old students.