The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki has ordered the shutdown of all primary and secondary schools with dilapidated structures in the state, to pave way for reconstruction work.
Specifically, pupils and teachers of Holy Aruosa Primary School in Benin City have been relocated to nearby Agbado Primary School.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osagie, said the decision to relocate pupils of Holy Aruosa Primary School, was informed by the shocking reports that despite an earlier relocation order given by the state government, teachers in Holy Aruosa Primary School ignored the order and went about their activities in dilapidated structures.
“All such schools, with dilapidated structures have been shut down with immediate effect. Students and pupils in the affected schools are hereby relocated to other schools that will be announced soon,” the governor’s aide said.
He explained that “the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq., visited Holy Aruosa Primary School as early as 7: A. M. on Thursday, to announce the state government’s decision."
“The state government has ordered an investigation to ascertain why the initial relocation order of the pupils with their teachers was not enforced.”
According to Osagie, “One of the allegations being investigated is the suspicion that some teachers, who are refusing to be transferred out of the school, selfishly kept those kids in the school under unsafe condition.”
On the ongoing reform in the state’s education sector, Osagie said that “on assumption of office in November 2016, Governor Godwin Obaseki ordered an inventory of facilities and the enumeration of primary and secondary schools in the state.
“After the census, the schools were categorised into three: those in grade A are in good condition; those in B need little intervention and schools in grade C require total renovation."
“It is obvious that Holy Aruosa Primary School and Osula Primary School, among others, fell in the third category and require urgent attention. The worst of them like Holy Aruosa were shut down.”
He maintained that, “As is the culture of this administration, groundwork has already begun for this renovation process to commence, as only few months ago bid rounds were held for the rehabilitation of some of these schools.
“The renovation work is expected to cover 1,200 public schools in the state, with the first batch of 230 schools captured in the pilot phase of the exercise.”
He lamented that despite the huge investment in remodeling most of the schools by the Adams Oshiomhole-led administration, “some of them have been vandalised, with facilities looted by hoodlums.”
To correct this anomaly, the governor spokesman said the Obaseki administration has made commitment to partner communities hosting government projects such as schools and hospitals to ensure they are protected from vandals.
“We assure that work will soon commence at these schools within Benin metropolis and other parts of the state, and call on communities to protect the structures as soon as they’re built.
“The state government will expedite action on the renovation work to ensure that our pupils learn in conducive environment, even as we roll out the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (Edo BEST) programme to some of these schools in coming weeks” Osagie added.