Ugly Side of Post-primary Institutions in Delta State
by Emeka Esogbue
Citizens of Delta State have expressed concern over the state of post-primary institutions in the state. The deplorable state of these institutions in some communities of the State, as Patrick Ofili, an educationist, puts it, “is something for parents to lose sleep over.” In many of the schools, students now make do without chairs and desks and learn in grossly deplorable buildings. Many of them appear to have taken their fate in their own hands as they have learnt to live with the situation as it comes, but they still require urgent attention from the government to survive the murky situation.
The result is the springing up of private secondary schools while public ones are becoming abandoned. A visit round some of the secondary schools in the state shows that post-primary institutions are not only lying in decay but are regrettably on the verge of total annihilation. Experts continue to warn that if nothing is done to revive the state of these schools, the very schools that hopes are hinged on will futilely encourage the pouring out of semi-educated students who will then find their ways into the higher institutions in the country.
Many experts on education who spoke to Xclusive Magazine expressed doubt over the idea that the ugly trend would end soon, maintaining that unless the state government declares state of emergency in that sector and resolutely pursue it with the weightiness it deserves, the situation will remain the same at least in a couple of years to come or may even go downhill as typical. A prominent citizen of the state who spoke to Xclusive Magazine but decided to remain anonymous said, “If these schools remain in this condition, I wonder what chances our children naturally have as citizens of the State to pursue and acquire university degrees.”
It was a surprise at the recent revelation that Okuijorugu, a community in Okpe Local Government Area of the state, does not have a school, prompting children to cover several miles on foot to nearby villages to attend schools. This prompted Deltawomen, a non-profit organization, to take up the cause with a threat to drag the representatives of Okpe constituency to court. Although, it was later confirmed by Elsie Ijorogu-Reed, leader of Deltawomen that Hon Julius Okpoko, members representing Okpe constituency in Delta State House of Assembly, visited the community and assured the community elders that the school will be included in next budget, it was surprising that a Nigerian community in this present century do not have any school.
The story of Ibusa, another community in the state, is also touching. As it stands now, the community does not have any mixed public secondary school. Igbuzor Girls Secondary School, a same sex girls’ secondary school remains the only public secondary school in the community. There was St Augustine’s College but it was handed over to the missionaries recently thus ending for the community the only mixed public school available to it. As prominent natives of the community have expressed, it is now inopportune for parents that they do not have any option of getting their wards educated in a mixed public secondary school in the town.
The unavailability of a mixed public school in the community is only an extension of the educational woes the community has been suffering. Omu Boys secondary School was established in 1980 by Samuel Ogbemudia administration but today the school is no more. People carrying certificates from the school do not have any particular structure to point to. St Martin Porres Girls’ Grammar School, Onicha-Olona is in a sore state. Lauretta Onochie, a prominent indigene of that community laments that it is appalling to expect the school to produce students that will compete with other students from the other parts of the world in terms of academic brilliance.
At Agbarho Grammar School, Agbarho, the situation is not different as students of the institution complain of lack of infrastructures and seeming neglect by the government. Ogidigben Grammar School, Ogidigben also has similar complaints. Ekpan Secondary School, Ekpan has its walls in decay. Urhobo College, Effurun is only made prominent by its sign-board which stands at the gate but inside of it creates a different scenario entirely. In most cases, buildings inside the school premises are not utterly decay but compete with overgrowing weeds.
Xclusive Magazine can exclusively reveal that the Delta State Government is also worried about the deplorable state of public schools in the state. Speaking at an Education Stakeholders Summit once held in the state at the Unity Hall, Government House, Asaba, Governor Uduaghan revealed that his government already had a blueprint to turn around the sector. He said the summit was called to get stakeholders to also make their inputs into the proposal. “Governor Uduaghan rolled out a resuscitation plan that would entail about N100 billion expenditure in the next few years. Among the areas of attention, according to the governor, would be the provision of classroom blocks, desks and radical teachers’ redeployment policy.”
It was also at that summit that the then Honourable Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Elizabeth Uvoh-Gardner who emphasized the importance of education revealed that 123,463 students in the 413 Junior Secondary Schools across the state require 4,115 classrooms of which 1,787 are available. While 61,732 desks are also needed only 36,804 are in good condition thereby creating a shortfall of 3,750 desks. She further noted that “Although the teachers in JSS and SSS are inadequate, the inadequacy is more pronounced in English Language, Mathematics, Introductory Technology and French Language just as she said, “In the rural and riverine areas, the number of teachers is grossly inadequate whereas the opposite is the case in schools in the urban areas.”
Education as they say is the bedrock of the society. What is certain in this case is that government requires radical policies to revive the sector and the radical policies will only come with sincerity on the part of the government.