Despite the huge amount of money budgeted for the education sector in Osun State since the return to democracy in 1999, schools in the rural area of the state are still abandoned to rust away due to a lack of adequate facilities, and competent hands to shape the sleazy configurational structure and fate students in studying in undeveloped communities.
A case study is that of Eyenla Community Primary and High school, located in the remote area of Olode town, Ife south local government Osun state.
A glance at this community’s primary and secondary school gives nothing but disintegrating, deteriorating, and damaged conditions. The school, which serves practically most of the children in the community is understaffed and has leaking roofs, dilapidated classrooms, insufficient teachers, and other basic amenities.
Back view of the senior class building.
Only the students who are currently taking their National Examination Council (NECO) in the community secondary school were seen around at the time of filing this report, as the majority of the school students and pupils are currently not around in the village as the school is on its third term long vacation break.
“There was a day we had mathematics paper, a general subject. Then it began to rain, forcing students in the other class to transfer to ours for cover as the class they were earlier in was leaking. While taking the exam, we had to cram into that classroom. I had a difficult day because I struggled to concentrate during the exam.” Olagunju Azeez, one of the students who registered for NECO in the community school disclosed this to this reporter.
He added, “I attended Ifetedo Grammar School and wrote my senior WAEC there, but I decided to register for NECO here so that I won’t have to be going and coming out of the community”.
Following the proposed expenditures for the Osun State Educational Sector dated August 2018, the result showed in the report that 31 high schools would be renovated for the school years 2019–2020 and 2021 under the project ‘Infrastructure Development: Rehabilitation of 93 schools (Re-roofing and Ceiling)’ with budgets of 248,000,000.00, 252,960,000.00, and 259,920,000.00, respectively.
The budget output objective stated that by the end of 2021, 99 percent of schools should have been renovated, but this appears to be nothing but paperwork without execution.
A report also confirms that Governor Oyetola proposed 21 percent for the educational sector in 2021. A budget estimate of 129,756,790.00 indicates that the draft budget was higher than the budget for 2021.
According to these two reports, schools in rural communities are unsuitable for learning and lack educational facilities, despite the large sums of money the state claims to have spent on the education sector in recent years.
The Broken Walls…
Children in Amula Saliu village, Eyenla attend a single community elementary and high school. The elementary was built through a partnership between the community and the Catholic church and was later adopted by the government. The secondary school was constructed in the 1970s.
Findings revealed that the administrative staff of the school shares a library room and a laboratory room with the senior class in a block of eight classrooms, half of which are already in a collapsed state.
The partition between the principal and staff office.
All of the school’s rusted books are still inside the now-collapsed library room, which is also in disarray. The laboratory is also in disarray, and the administrative apartment is nothing compared to a staff room.
The laboratory room.
However, in the spirit of ensuring the students learn, the community constructed a block of five classrooms for the junior levels that had no windows or doors.
Also, the community recently constructed a two-classroom facility for the primary school in collaboration with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) after condemning the collapse of the original structure intended for the school’s school children. All pupils from nursery classes to primary six levels share two classrooms; nursery classes to primary three are combined in one, while primary four to six are taught in the other, which of course can get congested.
The recently constructed two-classroom facility
The condemned original building.
Mr. Yemi Ogundele, a teacher at the community high school revealed that both students and staff are struggling due to the situation in the school, and things only become worse when it rains because classes will be interrupted.
He also lamented the condition of the school and the shortage of staff. “Things have been that way for the ten years that I have been teaching here. When it rains, everyone must find cover since no teacher would want to teach while being battered by rain in a classroom.
“Academics for the day will be suspended once it begins to rain, and the students would have nothing to do for the rest of the day. We have opened roofs in parts of the building because of rainstorms, and things are getting worse all the time.”
Because of the school’s deteriorating condition and the idea that anything may happen at any time, the teacher also expressed his fear for all of the students and staff within. Thanking God as well that no classes were in session at the time the library room collapsed, as it would have been a disaster.
Window view: the collapsed library room.
The teacher, however, disclosed that due to the lack of staff, he occasionally had to teach four courses in a day while on other days he only had to teach three.
“Because there aren’t enough teachers, there are some days when I have to teach PHE, Geography, Biology, and Social Studies to the students. Even though it’s not easy, what can I do? There are no jobs available, and on top of that, this is my community, therefore I’m trying to support efforts to aid the students here. Only two teachers, along with the headmaster, teach every student at the local community elementary school. The PTA provided and paid the two teachers,” he said.
He also disclosed that some parents have moved their children away from the schools to private schools because of the community’s schools’ dilapidated infrastructure and lack of amenities.
Mr. Kasali, an Economics teacher who was transferred to the community school in 2021, revealed that things have not been at ease for him nor for the students and the staff since he joined the school.
He noted that writing materials and furniture have written nightmares on the face and fate of the young leaders of tomorrow.
“The students don’t have writing desks and consequently, they do sit on the floor, while those who could afford them buy one for themselves, take them home for the holiday, and bring them back to class when school resumes.
“The government transferred me here, and the money I spent on transportation each day to get here is quite a lot. In addition, it is rather depressing to experience the scenario of leaky roofs, limited staff, and lack of basic learning facilities every day in this school” he added.
Principal and Parents React
Mr. Afolabi, the principal of the community secondary school, asserted that the school was this way before he was assigned to direct it. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation and how the government has failed to intervene despite multiple attempts.
“I was transferred to be the school’s principal in the year 2020, and the school was like this before my arrival. Several attempts were made to contact the government for assistance, but none was successful.
“After several letters, the State Commissioner of Education recently donated one hundred thousand Naira for redevelopment during his recent visit. But before that, the parents have been asked to each donate a certain amount of money to help with the renovation,”
He maintained that the renovation will kick off now that the schools are out for the summer. “We will begin with the hundred thousand for the redevelopment of the primary school building while waiting for the parent’s responsibility to make their quota. We have formed a committee of some teachers and parents to oversee the redevelopment. We can’t do everything on our own, so we’re still waiting for government assistance,” he added.
However, a parent who pleaded anonymity and whose children have now all passed out from the school recounted how the school was better when her children were still there, at least in comparison to how it is now.
“It’s only recently that the building has become old and frail, with the roof giving way to the sky. The building began to deteriorate three years ago, and you know what happens when something has been existing for long without maintenance, it gets old.”
The dilapidated Senior class building.
Similarly, Mrs. Afariogun Grace, a school vendor who sells snacks to students in the school environment, also expressed her grievance with the school and the government’s refusal to show support.
“The community is working tirelessly to improve the school and the lives of the children. Even the king has taken steps and is still working on it, but the government has refused to respond and has yet to respond. Although none of my children attend the school, I have been a vendor there for the past two years,” she added.
Old Students Association’s Impact
The present king’s daughter, Princess Adesiyan-Eyenla Stella, was able to give information that shed light on the events that had happened in primary and secondary school. Despite not attending any of the local schools, she had a thorough understanding of the circumstances that ultimately contributed to the school’s current state.
“The school has an old student association that plays a supporting role in the school’s development. The present roofing sheets on the school hall are there as a result of the contributions made by the association. Because it is not a priority for the association’s members given the current status of the nation’s economy, the association has plans to do more and become more involved in the growth of the school, but the timing of those plans is still uncertain,” she said.
The school hall.
The Princess further explained how, in 2020, before the junior and senior WAEC examinations, she and a group of friends teamed up to tutor students on the weekends due to a staffing shortfall at the school.
“We looked for old textbooks to utilize as teaching resources. I attend Obafemi Awolowo University for my legal degree and am a part of the faculty of Justice Chambers. The association’s outreach initiative to educate the girls about personal hygiene and, by extension, the value of education for the entire school, was effective in bringing them to the school,” She said.
Students and Teachers Opt for Open Defecation
An Octogenarian, Ismaila Olasunkanmi, disclosed that the teachers and students have turned bushes in the school areas into a place where they ease off.
“None of the schools have toilets; thus, they utilize the nearby bush. The government has done nothing to help the community in any manner. We don’t even have healthcare facilities. Before we can get medical attention, we must travel to the nearby village for their maternity center.
“We have been writing letters to the government for the past twelve years and have taken numerous pictures of the condition of the school as asked by the government, but we have not yet received a reply from them. We haven’t heard from the government since they came here a week before the governorship election, despite their promises to act.”
The government promised to provide the students and pupils with the best possible learning environment, and nothing has been done so far. The community has been cooperating with the Parent Teacher Association to manage the two schools while they wait for the government to respond.
When contacted, Mr. Mufu Adegbite, the local government chairman of Ife South, confirmed the amount donated by the commissioner of education during his visit to the village.
“We are aware of the situation of the two schools in that village and have attempted to contact the government on their behalf because the community secondary school is a state responsibility. While we expect more from the government, we are also working on donating another hundred thousand Naira to the project.”
However, reaching out to the state government spokesperson via phone call, Mr. Ismail Omipidan, several attempts were made but no response was received initially. When he finally responded, he asked that the specifics of the school name be sent to him and to anticipate feedback, but he refused to respond to the message or the subsequent calls.