James Ojo Adakole
When Mr. Tope Oluwole, a community leader at Agbowa-Ikosi, Ikosi-Ejinrin Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos State was asked the major problem facing his community, he was explicit in his response: education.
Oluwole, a former teacher in one of the schools in the area, has his reasons. From overpopulated classrooms to dilapidated infrastructure, he said that government-owned schools in Agbowa-Ikosi are far from what a standard school set up should be.
According to him, Agbowa Community Secondary School, which has junior and secondary students, is the only remaining public secondary school in the area, serving about 32 surrounding communities.
He said: “The state of our education is bad. We have only one grammar school to about 32 towns and villages. People come from areas as far as Ado, Ikosi, and all the villages around the area which are almost a kilometer apart to attend the school. They trek down here to attend classes and also trek back home. This is far from the ideal because they forget most of things they were taught before getting home due to stress.”
A visit to the school indeed showed that it is grappling with several challenges which stifle the quality education. Aside its large population, which surpasses available infrastructure, some sections of the roofs have been blown off by wind.
“Whenever it rains, this place (referring to a section of the office) would be filled with water,” a source at the school, who requested not to be identified, told Sunday Sun.
Another teacher in the school, who also asked not be named, chipped in this: “Our school is over-crowded with students. At least in a class, we have up to 70-80 students while in most cases we have seats for only 40 students in a class. There is clear lack of infrastructure. Most of the students, especially those in the Junior Secondary School (JSS1), sit down on the floor.
“Then, we lack teachers. Many teachers are running away from this school because of the workload. Some of us here are trying to cope with the situation because we are indigenes of this place. We need more buildings or even more schools for the community.
“Majority of the government-owned schools here have been commercialized. If you don’t have up to N35, 000 per term for instance, you can’t send your ward to Lagos State Model College or Baptist Model School, where you pay up to N150,000 because it is a boarding school. All these were formerly public schools but they have changed. It is true that they are still under the control of the government but they have become very expensive now for the common man.
“So, this is basically the only community school here. Students come from Otta, Itokin, Ikosi, Imota, Odo Selu, among others, to attend this school. We even have some children from Adamo which is very far. That’s why we have overcrowded classrooms without sufficient teachers. Therefore, there is a huge gap between the students and the teachers available.
“Then our school is not fenced. We normally had issues with herdsmen who often come with their cattle to graze even when classes are going on. We have gone to meet with leaders of their associations severally but nothing really has been done about the situation. Sometimes, we would be inside the classroom, you will see herdsmen with their cattle, moving through the compound because there is no fence.”
At Methodist Primary School, Agbowa, the story is the same. Teachers and pupils are grappling with insufficient classrooms and furniture. Near the school’s central building – a two-storey structure – some houses that had shown weakness were demolished to prevent any mishap that could result if they collapsed on their own.
Their non-replacement has put pressure on the remaining classrooms. “We don’t have enough classrooms, teachers and furniture. Some of the demolished buildings have affected us,” an official of the school told Sunday Sun on a condition of anonymity.
Also speaking, the Aro of Abowa-Ikosi, High Chief Sakiru Kunle Odufowora, lamented that the dearth of sufficient public schools in the area is taking a huge toll on the available ones.
He said: “One major problem we have now is insufficient number of secondary schools. We have tried our best in appealing to the state government to come to our aid. We have a model college, but mosrt people cannot afford to meet the financial demand of sending their children to the school.
“So, they end up sending them to Agbowa Community Grammar School, where in a class you can have up to 150 students. So, this is the problem we are facing. The government has shown some commitment but not as we expected. We want them to expedite action and construct more public schools for the people in this area.”
Like public schools in Agbowa-Ikosi, some public schools in Lagos State, especially those in remote areas, are in a decrepit state, awaiting the intervention of the state government.
Visits to some of such schools in Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area and Orile Agege Local Council Development Area of Lagos State revealed that students learn under conditions which are not conducive for teaching and learning.
At Orile-Agege Primary School, the situation was indescribably appalling. School pupils were seen packed in classrooms, a situation which stifles effective teaching and learning.
A close examination around the school showed further state of dilapidation as evidenced by caved in roofs, detached window frames and broken walls, which resulted from frequent exposure to downpour.
A building which served as toilet for the pupils was also in bad shape, and unusable by the students. Some of the pupils were seen urinating in an open space close to the abandoned toilet.
Most of the classrooms have been deserted due to their bad state. The management of the school said government had been intimated of the situation, and expressed hope that the problems would be fixed soon.
Similar situation could be seen at Temidire Primary School, Oke-Odo, Oke-Odo Community Primary School, Oke-Odo as well as Anuoluwapo Primary School, Oke-Odo, which are all situated within the same compound.
A brief look round the school by the reporter also showed that it requires intervention from the state government. Some of the pupils were seen clogged in classrooms with makeshift wooden blackboards and bad desks. Sunday Sun was denied access to move around by the school management, asking him to seek written permission from the appropriate authority before he could be granted interview.
“We do have lots of challenges here but we can’t discuss with you without an official notification to do so from the appropriate authorities,” a management official told Sunday Sun correspondent.