By Ovasa Ogaga,
As the World marks 2021 World Teachers’ Day with the theme ‘Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery’ it becomes necessary to take a critical look at some of the challenges that impede effective impartation of knowledge by teachers particularly in public schools in Delta State.
Given the fact that Delta state comes top on federal allocation with a fat Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), one would expect upscale infrastructures in State-owned schools.
While the state government under the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa undoubtedly has improved on the infrastructure in public schools, it is observed that the State Government intervention in infrastructure development in public schools so far is not enough, and in most cases are limited to schools in urban centres, while most public primary and secondary schools in rural areas are in a deplorable state with licking roof, dilapidated classrooms, without seats leaving a good number of learners sitting on the bare floor.
A case in point is the Adagwe Grammar School, the only public secondary school in Eruemukowharien Community in Ughelli North LGA.
As a major oil-producing community, Eruemukowharien is the host Community to Heritage Oil and MD Western Joint Venture with NPDC, yet the only secondary school in the community is in a sorry state.
A casual visit to the school revealed the sorry state of neglect of facilities in the Chemistry, Physics and Biology laboratories that even reptiles feel may not be conducive for habitation. A clear picture is that the classrooms look like pigpens.
It is understandable that the reason why oil companies operating in this community have not significantly impacted on school infrastructure is because of local politics that endear indigenes to collect monies meant for development and share among themselves, it is difficult to explain the reason for the observed level of criminal neglect the school has suffered from successive administrations of Delta State, starting from the Chief James Ibori era.
It was observed that the school is littered with abandoned projects, allegedly awarded during Ibori administration yet, students of Adagwe Grammar School, for no fault of theirs, now have to be combined in class, due largely to the fact that the school lacks writing desks and to make matters worse, the Delta State Government in its make-believe free education policy has warned that school authority should not ask students to provide their writing desk, yet Government failed to provide same.
Many parents who could not stand their ward sitting on the bare floor or hanging on the window to take lessons have withdrawn their wards from the school and the few that are left have to be merged into one class.
When advocate.ng team visited the school, it was observed that students of Junior secondary school of classes JSS 1-3 with three arms A-C, were clustered together in a group in one classroom due to lack of seats and functional classrooms and thereby compromising the students’ health, and in clear violation of COVID-19 protocols.
While the poor state of Adagwe Grammar School calls for urgent government attention, Delta State Government, should without delay, provide writing desks and renovate the Chemistry, Physics and Biology labs to make the school have a semblance of a learning environment.
The State government should as a matter of urgency, pay close attention to the decaying educational infrastructure across the state if it desired to be ranked amongst the states that have adequately improved the quality of Education.
It’s not too much to ask that NPDC, Heritage and MD Western operating in the community live up to their Corporate Social Responsibility by taking more than a passive interest in the development of education infrastructure of their host community by refusing to share monies to some selfish and unproductive community executives and invest such monies in the development of infrastructure and repairs of dilapidating facilities in the school.
Recall that we reported last week of the deplorable state of 41-year-old Emiye Girls’ Grammar School in Oleh, headquarters of Isoko South Local Government, Delta State, where students sit on bare floor to receive lectures despite huge oil revenue accruing to the state from 13% derivation and huge federal allocation accruable to the state.
The case of Orhuwhorun High School in Udu, Udu local government of Delta State where students are sitting on bare floor to receive lessons was also highlighted and many of our public schools’ classrooms in the rural areas of the state can best be described as ramshackle, not fit for human habitation.
A poor environmental ambience and infrastructures affect not only the morale of the students but also the teachers because learning and teaching need a conducive environment to take place and with continued fall in the standard of education in the country, government should retool its policies and pay more attention to the educational needs of our people, rather than the current cosmetic approach.
Governor Okowa has about two years to the end of his second and last tenure as the governor of Delta State, what would he be remembered for? Would history judge him kindly as a man who established three new universities to give our people access to university education and neglected the foundation of educational pursuit?
As the world marks the 2021 World Teachers’ Day Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, has called on Delta State Governments to pay more attention to the state of infrastructure in the State School and welfare of teachers in the State.
Delta State government is one of the few states that are yet to implement the National Minimum Wage for teachers in Primary School and is notorious for non-payment of Primary School teachers’ salaries as and when due.
The fate of Primary School teachers and Local Government Workers retirees in the state is one issue the Governor Okowa-led administration should also pay attention to and speed up in fulfilling his electioneering campaign promises to Deltans.
We hope not only for a ‘Stronger Delta but also a better Standard of education in Delta,’ this is not too much to ask.
Ovasa Ogaga, a journalist, writes from Sapele, Delta State