•Procures 13,000 desks, chairs for primary schools
From Petrus Obi, Enugu
In the past, it was ‘normal’ to see pictures of primary school pupils sitting on the bare floor in Enugu State. Then, reports on dilapidated school buildings and other ugly faces of the public school system were regular. But this is now in the past, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi assumed office on May 29, 2015.
Indeed, the Ugwuanyi administration has shown more interest in seeing things for itself and identifying areas in the public school system that need quick intervention.
Thus the governor had embarked on school visits during which he saw the sorry state of infrastructure in many public schools, making him to quickly release funds for the renovation and construction of over 370 classroom blocks across the state.
Deputy Governor, Mrs. Cecelia Ezeilo, while unveiling over 13,000 desks and chairs recently acquired by the Ugwuanyi administration, said it was the fruit of those visits.
“Those visits are paying off tremendously as we are able to design transformation programmes based on our findings and limited resources and ensure that whatever we do impacts on the lives of our children in schools,” she said.
She disclosed that the work on the 370 classroom blocks was almost finished, stressing that government was not going back on its decision to provide all the resources to ensure that children learn in a decent environment.
She noted that the 13,000 desks for primary school pupils in the state and the 286 tables and 572 chairs for students in junior secondary schools are: “to ensure that the children are comfortable in their classrooms, which also makes the job of teaching easier for the teacher.
“We shall continue to respond to the needs of these children in schools because their comfort and safety today guarantee the comfort and safety of the future.”
The deputy governor called on heads of schools, the school-based management committees and the communities in general to ensure adequate security for the furniture.
She urged the teachers and school heads to also guard against damage as well as ensure that they served the purpose for which they were procured.
She recalled that Ugwuanyi’s administration made a commitment to create fair opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, as well as “educate our children and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment.”
In his speech, the chairman, Enugu State Primary Education Board, Chief Ikeji Asogwa, explained that over N450 million was spent in procuring the school furniture, which included12,480 desks and chairs for pupils, as well as 858 classroom desks for teachers.
He pledged the commitment of the board in maintaining the furniture, adding that plans have been concluded to use acting education secretaries in all the 17 local governments for effective distribution of the materials.
Asogwa reiterated the determination of government to make public schools in the state a model and envy of other states, disclosing that, already, rehabilitation and reconstruction of over 370 classrooms were ongoing.
He said the 13,000 desks and chairs would be able to go round the schools in the 17 local government areas of the state that are in dire need of them.
“It’s not a mean feat and it’s highly commendable and we are commending the governor for taking this bold step to make sure that the learning environment of our children is greatly improved.
“It’s just one of the angles through which government is approaching the improvement of education; so it will help because if you go to some of our schools today you will be embarrassed.
“Some of the children were sitting on the ground; when you provide desks and seats they will be in a better position to learn.
“Other aspects like recruitment of teachers to improve standard of teaching and learning too; construction of new classroom blocks, renovation of existing ones, provision of toilet facilities in most of the schools to enhance hygiene and health issues.
“We are attacking it from all angles; it’s not easy, but we are getting there. We have made requests from UBEC and soon we shall be taking delivery of about 70,000 books also for distribution to schools from primary one to JSS III.
“We have procured enough chalk that will last our schools for the next one year. We have provided first aid boxes in all the primary schools in the state; so we are doing it as much as we can in a short space of time,” he said.
Also the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Uche Eze, praised the governors’ commitment to the development of education in the state.
“He saw the state of our schools and started renovating them; devoted huge sum for upgrading education across the state. Governor Ugwuanyi believes that for proper learning there is need for an enabling environment. That vision is what we are seeing today.
“Every worker has to be comfortable and that’s what the governor has done by ensuring that our schools are well equipped. This is just the beginning; before eight years our schools will be totally transformed. Teachers and pupils will be happy; the semi-executive seats are for teachers; both will have a sense of belonging,” he said.