From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Nigerians were shocked when a photo of students of a secondary school in Ogun State, St. Kizito’s High School, Iwopin, Ogun Waterside Local Government Area, went viral with the students writing their exams on a bare floor.
The shock of such an unconducive learning atmosphere and the attendant exasperation was so high, especially, with the state being prided as the ‘education capital’ of Nigeria.
The public outburst the photo generated, however, prompted several concerned stakeholders and people of the Gateway state, to question the claim of infrastructure intervention in public schools by the incumbent administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun.
While some were of the opinion that the so-called revamping of the education sector was a farce after all, others hold the notion that putting the public schools in good shape is a continuous process.
Perhaps stunned by the condemnation that trailed the expose, the state government in in a swift move provided new desks and chairs for St. Kizito’s students within 48 hours.
The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof Abayomi Arigbabu, in a statement, confirmed that new sets of furniture had been delivered to the school. He said the school had earlier been provided with furniture, adding that the newly supplied desks and benches were second in a row.
“This is the second time we are giving chairs and desks to St. Kizito‘s High School, as part of the provision of necessary furniture to all public schools in the state as approved by Governor Dapo Abiodun.
“Indeed, the governor had approved 25,000 sets of desks and chairs to public schools in the state. As at today, we have distributed over 14,000 units to these schools for the use of our learners to cushion the effects of acute shortage of furniture in these schools. We will continue to do this until all our public schools are properly equipped with all the necessary furniture to enhance learning by our students”, he stated.
Arigbabu explained further “the deplorable situation at St Kizito School was the state in which most public schools were when Governor Abiodun assumed office on May 29, 2019. It was the reason he declared a state of emergency in that sector on that same day.
Since then he has massively invested in rehabilitation of classrooms, building new ones, over 1,200 schools have been touched by this administration in this regard and we have provided them with desks and chairs.”
According to him, the approach to qualitative education in the state has been holistic and basic education occupies a pride of place in the scheme of things.
“Our approach to education development in the area of infrastructural development; human capital development; provision of a conducive environment, among many others are part of our calculated and deliberate measure put in place to redeem the sector and restore the lost glory”, the statement concluded.
In a statement signed by the president, National President, National Association of Ogun State Students (NAOSS), Ogunronbi Emmanuel Oluwagbemileke, said the proscription of Parent Teacher Association (PTA) in secondary schools in the state was responsible for the lacuna in the provision of necessary educational materials, including furniture in the public secondary schools.
“Over the years, PTA had remained a formidable support partners in our schools system and in the face of the recent developments, the state government must not shy away from revisiting the decision.
NAOSS is of the view that issues surrounding accountability and regulation of PTA fee and activities should be considered rather than the proscription. This will in no small measure reduce the pressure on the government and make provision for basic needs within the school possible.
“The government should also, as part of the efforts to revamp the education sector, ensure that the Zonal Education Officers in each local government be more proactive in carrying out their responsibilities as it was on record that the lethargic and unresponsive antics of some of these officers towards their duties contributed to the issues surrounding the proscription order by the government.
“We would like to place on record that the students body appreciates the interventions of Governor Abiodun led administration to salvage the educational sector in the state since inception, however the accumulated rots and dysfunctional policies in sector have continued to submerge the efforts.
“The renovation of over 1,000 classrooms and construction of new buildings by the present administration and other projects across the 20 local governments in the face of dwindling financial resources by the state government is a good work that needed to be stepped up.
“The National Association of Ogun State Students will continue to call for the implementation of novel reforms so as to ease the burden on the government and instantaneously improve the quality of pedagogical endeavours in the classroom.
“We have deduced the need for Ogun State Government to fully appreciate and recognize the futility in trying to resolve all issues connected to education in the Gateway state alone.
We believe that quality education cannot be achieved in a country like Nigeria if placed exclusively in the hands of the government.
We then call on other societal machineries to be allowed to play prominent roles and thereby complement the government’s efforts.
“Finally, while admonishing the government on the need to facilitate an holistic educational policy and legislation reviews, the archaic ones should be expunged to make way for much needed progress in line with global best practices, even as we are calling on parents to rise up to their responsibilities and not place all the blames on the government at all times”. The statement reads.
Meanwhile, parents, teachers and pupils at St. Kizito’s High School, have lauded the state government for its efforts at ensuring that learning and teaching take place under a conducive atmosphere.
“We are very happy that the government is doing this for us. We have been learning under very difficult conditions but this is a big relief,” Adenuga Qudus, a student of the school said.
Mr. O.S. Ogundiran, a senior secondary tutor in the school, enthused that, “our students and my colleagues are excited by the provision of new sets of chairs and desks. This is commendable.»
The chairman of the Parents Club of the School, Mr. Tayo Balogun, expressed his delight at the development and prayer that “the good Lord will bless the governor and his team.”