Victimization of school heads and other staff members is a major factor responsible for the rot in the infrastructural decadence in schools in Lagos State , it has been revealed.
Another problem, according to some teachers, is the neglect by the government officials who allegedly ignore problems facing many schools when they visit schools or when their attention is called to such problem or issue .
This is coming on the heel of the collapse of the structure built by the first Executive Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, in the 80s on students of Ipakodo Junior Secondary Schools in Ikorodu West Local Council Development Area of Ikorodu Division on Tuesday, June 25, 2019.
Two students were critically injured and are still receiving medical attention at the Lagos State Teaching hospital in Ikeja, while the other four have since been released after treatments.
Following the stories, titled, “6 Injured As Classroom Wall Collapse On Ipakodo Community School Students” and “Ipakodo Community School’s Collapse: There Had Been 3 Previous Collapse Incidents – Sources”, that we published, our editor’s and reporter’s phone have been inundated with several calls by retired and serving teachers.
Many of those that called alleged that fear of sack or demolition has been responsible for the reason many schools are in deplorable state across Ikorodu division .
They stated that many had been queried for allowing reporters and social media activists took pictures of threatening structures where pupils and students are receiving lectures.
A case of a principal at Igbokuta Model College in Imota Local Council Development Area (LCDA) which happened few years back was cited.
According to our findings, many schools in Ikorodu division are not fit for animals to be kept in, yet thousands of students are receiving classes in such buildings.
Among these schools are Ipakodo Junior Secondary School in Ikorodu West LCDA, Oga High School in Ikorodu Local government, United High School in Ikorodu Local Government, Keme Balogun Secondary in Igbogbo/Bayeku LCDA, Odogunyan Junior Secondary School in Ikorodu North LCDA, Anglican Primary School in Ikorodu Local Government and Zumratul Islamiyyah Primary School, Odogunyan among others
In many of these schools, students sit on the floor to receive lectures because there are no enough classrooms, benches and chairs.
It was revealed that the office of the Tutor-General, Education District II, is aware of these deficits in infrastructures in most schools since there is a department that is monitoring activities in various schools.
Speaking with our reporter, a retired head teacher in Igbogbo/Bayeku LCDA, stated that :
“It’s quite unfortunate that we still have Jakande blocks in many primary and secondary schools in Ikorodu division. It is a shame that the government, despite the huge public outcry, news reports and correspondences, failed to do anything about the dilapidated structure at Ipakodo Secondary school until it collapsed on the students.
“We may still have to continue to contend with such unfortunate situations because if any head teacher or teacher cries out to the public on the state of his or her school, the next thing is query, demotion or sack.
“This has made many to keep silent while our future generations are made to receive lessons in very dehumanizing conditions”, she stated.
Another teacher, who spoke with THE IMPACT, stated that :
“We need you journalists to deploy more energy into investigating the state of schools in Ikorodu division. When you do this with all seriousness, you will realize that we are sitting on keg of gun powder. We also need Community Development Associations and NGOs to visit schools often to see things for themselves. This is necessary since it is a sin for us (teachers) to cry out to those in position of authority.
A former string member of the Union, speaking with THE IMPACT, also queried why teachers are always held responsible whenever disaster happens in schools.
“Our parents and the community at large should not feign ignorance of the rots in the system. Rather than engaging the government and take them to task, parents will always attack principals and teachers whenever anything happens .
“Many of them do come to these schools for meetings and their wards always tell them that they are receiving lessons under very bad conditions but what have they done about it?”
While speaking with Mr Ebenezer Olusanya, the Tutor-General/Permanent Secretary, Education District II, he denied victimization of school heads and staff members for exposing state of schools to the public.
“That is not correct because no teacher has been victimized for such.
“Nobody has been victimized or demoted for that. What we are only saying is that they must follow the established channel in getting issues across to those in government”.
While reacting to accusations that government is not showing enough concern to state of schools in Ikorodu which is what accounted for the collapse of classroom wall on the students of IpakodoJunior Secondary School, he stated that :
“If those letters had been written to the previous administration, my office is not in the know. We are used to following up our requests and ensure that they are done within time.
“Even if we say that the government has not responded to requests to provide infrastructures at the school (Ipakodo Junior Secondary School), it is the same government that has provided this edifice (pointing to an ultra modern two storey blocks of classrooms at Majidun Secondary School) and others across Ikorodu and other areas of the state “.
“We are doing everything possible to get across to the appropriate quarters over the matter. We are going to write formally today(last week Thursday) and see to it that something is done quickly”, Mr Olusanya stated.
“We have no doubt that our government will act quickly”.
On the wall that collapsed on the students, Mr Olusanya stated that :
“It is very unfortunate that the incident occurred. It was a portion of the structure that caved in and we are working towards rectifying the unfortunate development and prevent future reoccurrence”.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State government has commenced the implementation of its plan to improve quality of education in all state-owned schools, with the tour of schools on Monday, July 1, by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to physically assess the state of facilities.
The Governor said immediate repairs and rehabilitation of dilapidated facilities would be the first phase of the plan to strengthen the public schools, pointing out that the tour was to carry out complete assessment of the facilities to be rehabilitated.
The Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, who represented the Governor on the tour, identified provision of quality education as a top priority of the present administration, stressing that the environment in which pupils learn required sanitisation in order to get quality output.
Maryland Primary School was the first to be visited during the tour
As at the time of going to the press, attempts to reach Chairmen of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and Association of Primary School Headteachers of Nigeria (AOPSHON) as at the time of going to the press proved abortive.