For Imo State prides itself as having the highest number of university professors in Nigeria; that has the highest number of candidates for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), and for some years running, occupies the first fourth positions in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE); that boasts, education is its biggest industry. It is therefore, not only embarrassing, but also disappointing that a school like Eziama Model Secondary School in Osuama, Isiala Mbano Local Government, which is more of a pigsty or a failed poultry is be found in the state.
After the civil war, most communities through self-help built secondary schools very close to their people. It is against this background that Eziama Social Club (ESC), in conjunction with the Eziama Bond of Peace (EOBP) built the school in 1979. In 1980, the administration of the late Chief Sam Mbakwe’s took it over.
But now, the students study in the harshest environment to be imagined. When it is raining, teaching is disrupted in some classrooms where wind has buffeted the roofing sheets.
As you enter the entrance gate, the sight of the first building on the left, in ruins, tells the story about the rot in the school. It is what used to be the principal’s quarters, a three-bedroom bungalow and a room (boys quarter). The roof is no more, sections of the walls have collapsed, and overgrown trees have taken over the compound.
Turning right are the classroom blocks. On the door of one of the blocks is an inscription, indicating that it is the Biology/ Physics laboratory. The only things there are about 16 wash hand basins, which could have been installed at the early stage of the school; some conical and flat bottom flasks and a burner.
In some classrooms, students lockers cramped in some sections of the class with roofing sheets still intact in the events of rainfall after school hours.
The campaign against open defecations doesn’t mean anything to the students because there is no toilet or toilet facilities in the school. Invariably, the faeces would be supplying nutrients to the shrubs and grasses in the surrounding bushes.
Of all the seven blocks in the school, there is none that is complete; the only one that has roof does not have doors and windowpanes.
The only recreational facility is the football pitch; the students for their love for soccer probably provided makeshift goalposts. Attaching “model” to this school, suggests that words have lost their meanings.
Looking at the school, one can draw inference that, if the indigenes of Imo State are excelling in education, it is not by the efforts of the government, but by the drives of families to make their children acquired education in order to compete in the society.
Some parents lamented the state of the school. The reason they still left their children there is “because the next public school is in another autonomous community, which is a long trek, more so, considering the security challenges in the country.”
In the same vein, President General of EOBP, Mr Patrice Unogu, said the ESC in conjunction EOBP mooted the idea to establish a secondary school for the community: “It was a real model school and the only one in the then Mbano Local Government Area (before Mbano was split into two – Ehime Mbano LGA and Isiala Mba LGA).
“Over time, for reasons that I cannot explain, the school went down to its present pitiable sight. I was shocked when I visited the school in 2017. I started wondering whether this was the model school the community laboured to build and later handed over to the government. I decided to draw pubic attention to this ugly development, especially in a state, where education is the biggest industry.
“The students numbering almost one thousand have keen interest in learning; in them, I see potential political leaders, academics, professionals of different callings. If they don’t have a very solid foundation, their goals and aspirations may not be realised.
“When I saw the rot in the school, I gave out some money, likewise other people in the community to carry out repair works on the hall to enable the students write their exams, but because of its state, the repair was unnoticed.
‘’Most of the things, equipment that made it a model school were carted away because there is no more perimeter fence. There is no electricity there, no pipe borne water or borehole. There is not toilet facility, the laboratories are not there, worst of all, a library; there are no recreational facilities, except, a football pitch without goal posts.
“These and others pose serious concerns to the executive of the community development association, and we are appealing to the state government, public spirited individuals, donor agencies, corporate bodies, NGOs and others to come over and help us rescue and restore the glory of the once flourishing school.
“We are also appealing to the past students of the school, as that is their alma mater. They should come together and think of how to give back to the school that showed them the light. For the fact they went to Harvard and other universities, they started from Eziama Model Secondary School. We want to make the students that will come from this school to compete with their peers from any part of this world.”
He said he was not aware of any efforts the community has made to draw the attention of the government over the dilapidation of the school, which is one of the reasons they are creating the awareness now: “If my predecessors did something like this, I would have seen it in the handover notes. We sent congratulatory messages to the governor and other elected and appointed political office holders from our area and we included the school, as one of the pressing needs we want them to address.
“It is the only government owned secondary school in Eziama and it is the only one in the autonomous community, Osuama, including the old Osuama – Ezumoha, Ikwuano and others, which are parts of the old Osuama.
“So, it is the only school serving these communities; it has a very large catchment area. It has been off campus, but there is large expanse of land to build dormitories, which would encourage our people in the diaspora to send their children home for secondary education to among other things, learn the native language and cultures; some Nigerians outside the country are sending their children back home for schooling to also learn their native languages.
“Our appeal is not to the government alone; we are also calling on individuals who have the mind to help; to charity organisations; Non Governmental Organisations, multinational corporations to consider this school in their Corporate Social Responsibility plans. We are not limiting to Nigeria alone, international donors may decide to donate books, laboratory equipment, writing materials, computers, chairs and tables, set up a sickbay, set up recreational centres etc.
This decay isn’t something that started the last three years; it started for along time as a result of neglect.
Mr Steve Osuji, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Emeka Ihedioha, said, “government is just less than three months in office and it is taking inventory and taking notes of all the rots it met in the education and other sectors.
“The immediate past administration boasted of free education and building model schools in the state. The former governor bought media spaces to state how he has turned Imo into a paradise. You can see for yourself; the state is in dereliction, all the things roads, bridges he built are collapsing; he didn’t have good intention building them.
“Not quiet long we had a governor who was from that area, and he abandoned the school. Not only that school, so many of them may be like that. We are taking inventories to see what we can do. That school is an example of what Rocha Okorocha left behind. We will take special note of it. I will ask our people to go and take photographs of the school buildings.”