A recent investigation by Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) based in Kwara State, has revealed the "state of shame" of public schools across the state.
The organisation visited more than 30 schools in the state including Ilorin Grammar School (IGS) Ilorin, Government High School (GHS) Ilorin, Government Secondary School (GSS) Ilorin, Mount Carmel College (MCC) Ilorin, Government Technical College (GTC) Patigi, Islamiyyah College Patigi and Taoheed LGEA Primary School, Offa.
The group observed that due to the negligence of the government, reputable schools that have produced a lot of important personalities in Kwara State have become the options for poor and vulnerable Kwarans, who cannot afford to pay the fees of private schools.
It also called on the state government to declare a state of emergency in its education sector.
A statement by ENetSuD coordinator, Dr. Abdullateef Ajagbonsi, noted that there is an urgent need to revamp the schools.
The statement read: “The deplorable conditions of the schools with dilapidated structures make them unhealthy for effective teaching and learning. The state government needs to prioritise funding of the state-owned schools and declare a state of emergency in the educational sector of the state."
Some of the schools visited include: Government Secondary School Ilorin, which is the first secondary school in the state. Founded in 1914, the school has produced important personalities like Senator Shaaba Lafiagi, a former Governor of Kwara State and Senator currently representing Kwara North; Honourable Ahman Patigi Bahago, House of Representatives member representing Edu/Moro/Patigi Federal Constituency, and Professor Sulyman Abdulkareem Age, the current Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin. Interestingly, three other former governors of Kwara State — late Col. David Bamigboye (1st Military Governor of Kwara State), late Governor Mohammed Lawal and former Governor Cornelius Adebayo — are alumni of the school.
Other schools visited include: Ilorin Grammar School, a school with more than 1,500 students, Government Secondary school Adeta, Mount Carmel College, Oloje, and Ansaru Secondary School, Ogidi. The body also visited Patigi Secondary School, Islamiyya College, Patigi and Government Technical College, Patigi, where it noted the dilapidated state of the schools.
In addition to infrastructural decay, ENetSuD also learnt that staffing is another major problem facing public schools in most communities of Kwara State outside Ilorin. In Patigi Local Government for instance, four schools — L.G.E.A Matokun, L.G.E.A Esun Dari, J.S.S Edogi Chapa and J.S.S Kpada have only five teaching staff members (as at January 2018), while Ragada/Likofu L.G.E.A Primary School, Siratal Mustaqim, L.G.E.A Gbaradogi, L.G.E.A Gudugi, L.G.E.A Chitta, L.G.E.A Ekati, L.G.E.A Wodata, L.G.E.A Edogi Chapa, L.G.E.A Ndanaku, L.G.E.A Bongi, LGEA Sakpefu, L.G.E.A Fey and L.G.E.A Echi Ewada have only four teaching staff members.
Also, Idris Gana Primary School, Patigi, Tswatagi, L.G.E.A Sunkuso, L.G.E.A Gbadokin, L.G.E.A Gbodu, Islamic Sunkuso, L.G.E.A Rifun, L.G.E.A Sheshi Tasha, L.G.E.A Mawogi, L.G.E.A Gada Woro, L.G.E.A Gada Bozuwa, L.G.E.A Mari, L.G.E.A Kpevun, L.G.E.A Chenu, L.G.E.A Kanworo, L.G.E.A Dakani, L.G.E.A Sanchita, L.G.E.A Rani Ndako, L.G.E.A Gbodonji, L.G.E.A Chenegi, L.G.E.A Dzako, L.G.E.A Sakpefu Islamic, L.G.E.A Egwa Mama, L.G.E.A Rogun, J.S.S Rogun and J.S.S Jahada-Deen have only three teaching staff members, while Edogi Kpansanako, L.G.E.A Ellah Edozhigi, L.G.E.A Gada Maaji Ndako, L.G.E.A Dina, L.G.E.A Gbangede, L.G.E.A Rani Woro, L.G.E.A Edogi Kpetia, L.G.E.A Dzwajiwo, L.G.E.A Kusogi, L.G.E.A Kokparagi, L.G.E.A Ebu, L.G.E.A Reshe, L.G.E.A Guluka, L.G.E.A Dobo, L.G.E.A Maagi, L.G.E.A Zhitswala, L.G.E.A Wako, L.G.E.A Latayi, L.G.E.A Mamba, L.G.E.A Koro and J.S.S Gada Woro have only two teachers.
Schools like Nomadic Kparumagi, Nomadic Rifun, L.G.E.A Agboro, L.G.E.A Lile, L.G.E.A Kakafu, L.G.E.A Gunji Sachi, L.G.E.A Gbafu, L.G.E.A Emiworogi, L.G.E.A Ezhigiko, L.G.E.A Eka, L.G.E.A Pati Wodata, L.G.E.A Duro, L.G.E.A Darulsalam Kpada, L.G.E.A Babogi, L.G.E.A Tsanban, L.G.E.A Sokingi, L.G.E.A Kpatagban, L.G.E.A Jida, L.G.E.A Gakpan, L.G.E.A Kajita, L.G.E.A Lusama, L.G.E.A Nomadic Latayi, L.G.E.A Nomadic Rogun, L.G.E.A Yagbagi, L.G.E.A Suku, J.S.S Kusogi, and J.S.S Sunkuso were all found to have just one teacher.
The statement continued: “How then is effective teaching and learning expected to take place in these schools, considering the grossly insufficient number of teaching staff? It is also quite worrisome that despite the large number of certified and qualified Kwaran graduates, who are yet to be gainfully employed and who could fill up the shortage of staff in these schools so as to promote the standard of education in the state and reduce unemployment, majority of public schools in the state still remained highly understaffed."
Although, the state government recently announced the employment of more than 1,850 teachers in the state, the CSO noted that it still has not addressed the current deficit of teachers in the state schools.
While responding to a query by ENetSuD, Abdulfatah Ahmed, Governor of Kwara State, explained through his official Twitter handle on June 29, 2018 that: “The state of this school is one of the reasons I have severally called for emergency reforms in the education sector. A country’s development trajectory is firmly subject to the range and quality of its educational system. As it stands, ours require reform urgently. States are expected to fund school infrastructure through matching grants from Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC). Currently, most states are unable to afford the counterpart funds to access the grants. Also, UBEC grants only cover primary schools and Junior Secondary Schools (JSS). How can we rehabilitate JSS and ignore Senior Secondary School classrooms? We need to reform UBEC to ease states’ access to the funds and expand its remit. That is a key way to address education infrastructure at pre-tertiary levels”.
While there have been efforts to redeem this with the construction of classrooms in various schools across Kwara State by Federal Government as part of the Zonal Intervention (Constituency) Projects nominated by the federal legislators from Kwara State, the consistent lack of maintenance culture by the state government on the already existing schools and their classrooms is "condemnable".
Although, the governor also claimed to have rehabilitated 400 blocks of classrooms at primary and secondary school levels across the state, the group further challenged the governor to use his security votes and revive the critical sector.
“Quality basic education is one of the things that must be provided by any responsible government, which will have direct impact on the lives of its people. We strongly recommend that the state government provide adequate budgetary provisions to address the infrastructural needs of the schools. Moreover, the state government should totally take charge of the infrastructural needs of the senior secondary schools, since the primary and the junior secondary schools have been covered by UBEC grants. This is calling on the Kwara State government to urgently declare a state of emergency in the educational system of the state,” the group said.