“Government cannot do it alone.” That has become a common cliché, especially in the area of educational development in a developing country like Nigeria. Indeed, educational development around the world has been described as a product of government collaboration with the private sector.
This was once again highlighted recently with the construction and handover of social amenities and school building to the Ebenezer African Church Primary School (EAC), Ita-Oshin, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The handover marked a new dawn for the school, founded in 1955. LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in joint partnership with School Rising Organisation and Build-a-School Initiative in Africa (BASIA), donated a block of modern toilets, borehole and a block of four furnished classrooms to the school. The exquisite constructions, Daily Sun learnt, were completed in less than two months.
At the ceremony to hand over the structure, Mrs. Sidikat Adeniyi, the headmistress, was full of thanksgiving to God. She said she was delighted that great events were occurring in the school in her tenure. She also noted that the school had been lacking classrooms for long.
“In the Primary 1 class, there are 95 pupils and in Primary 5, there are 85 pupils in a class. These four classrooms will help to decongest the pupils. It will also give them the opportunity to learn in conducive classrooms,” she said.
She added that staff and students had been using semi-modern pit toilets, even as she thanked the organisations for the provision of the new set of toilets and borehole. She was instructed by LDS Charities to also make the borehole accessible to members of the community.
Speaking to journalists on behalf of LDS Charities, Bamidele Fagbemi, the stake president, Church of Jesus of Latter-Day Saints, Ibara, Abeokuta, stated that the provision of social amenities by the church was to assist government in the provision of basic needs of students. The LDS Charities, he said, is an independent body of the church that carries out humanitarian services across the globe.
Dr. Victor Ukorebi, an old student of EAC and the president of BASIA, said the principal reason for the project was to give back to society and bless the lives of others, as commanded by God.
“According to UNICEF, about 11 million children are out of school in Nigeria. Some of these students are resident in this state and in this neighbourhood. We owe them a duty to be formally educated.
“We believe, by increasing classrooms in EAC, we can reduce the number of out-of-school children in Abeokuta,” he said.
Daily Sun learnt that the former structure on the site was a storey building, a block of classrooms that was demolished for safety reasons. Since its establishment, EAC pupils and teachers have been using pit toilets, but that of the teachers was hardly put to use, as it was not conducive. The reporter also noticed that the pupils’ toilet was an ordinary hole without a roof, which made it difficult for pupils to use the place during the rainy season.
The pipe-borne water in the school had also been destroyed, and cleaners had to search for water in the neighbourhood to clean the school.
The school headgirl, Halimat Lawal, said she had not defecated in the pupils’ toilet since she was enrolled, noting that there were lots of flies in the pit toilet, and the other pupils sometimes messed up the place. Halimat and the headboy, Timileyin Adeogun, expressed gratitude on behalf of their fellow students and the school management for the new facilities.
The headgirl said there used to be much too noise in the classrooms because there were more pupils in a class. But she expressed optimism that the school would start witnessing less noise with the additional block of four classrooms.
Executive chairman of the Ogun State Universal Basic Education Board, Alhaji Jeleel Okewole, while appreciating the organisations for their philanthropism, admonished the beneficiaries to take care of the inaugurated facilities.
“I charge you all to handle this project with care and ensure its safety and maintenance. The community must help in giving adequate security to prevent vandalism and theft,” he said.