As the population of out-of-school children continues to soar above 13 million in Nigeria and the country comfortably sit atop that infamous list in the world, there is no sign of things changing for the better in the near future especially with government’s uninspiring attitude towards improving the quality of education in the country. To a large extent, this has contributed towards the dilapidation of many school buildings and unavailability of academic materials for pupils in such places across most parts of the country.
According to the Universal Basic Education Board, over 20 states in 2019 failed to provide matching grants to build more schools in their different states.
For pupils of Community Comprehensive High School, Sabomi, Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State, the future indeed holds no hope and promises of a better life. This is largely because the facility of learning has become the very epitome of rot and neglect. Despite producing several prominent persons over the years including the current deputy governor of Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi, the school has only little to show in terms of infrastructure for its contribution towards human capita development.
Established in 1859, CCHS has remained the only hope of secondary education for many children across the region. During a visit to the area recently, our correspondent observed how pupils, parents and even teachers have grown frustrated by the sad situation that has reduced learning to a hellish experience for young boys and girls.
While expressing disappointment at the situation, one student said, “It’s impossible to be eager to attend classes but many of us still show up because we want better future for ourselves.”
The student, who identified himself only as Femi, said they now have to go through pains to receive lectures in the government-owned school.
An ex-student of the school, Omoenibinu Gbenga, also expressed worry that children around the area could get discouraged by the situation of things and abandon education.
“I graduated from the school in 2015, and during our time the infrastructure was still manageable, but now the students have little or nothing left to study.
“How can you possibly understand anything being taught in class when you have to run away from water dripping from leaky roof and sit on bare floor when everything is already wet and broken?” Gbenga asked.
Classrooms With No Chairs
“There’s more to a student’s academic success than just being taught; the environment in which they learn has a major impact on their progression,” he added.
The floor of most of the classrooms are cracked thus making it difficult for pupils to sit on it as chairs are almost non-existent in the school. The few available ones are shared by pupils while those, who have the capacity, construct wooden chairs for personal use.
One parent while expressing unhappiness about the state of the school, lamented that the neglect by the state government and lack of improvement on quality of education in the community was affecting their children.
“What is going on in the school is sad. The government including the deputy governor is watching on as this school collapses, it’s really sad.
“How can we have a deputy governor as an ex-student and our children are studying under this kind of condition. It is very sad,” she added.
A student of the school, who identified himself only as Segun, also jumped into the debate. He said, “Some students have to sit on the window frames because we don’t have enough chairs.
“A lot of us fall off and injure ourselves in the process. We are begging the government to help us fix this school.”
Beyond the crumbling state of the classrooms, the school’s hall where students write the West African Examination Council tests has also witnessed a great deal of dilapidation. It is perhaps the worst building with leaky roof. The hall, which has four additional classes in it, is likely going to collapse soon because the roof is already falling apart and no longer safe for learning.
Mebolaje Ekujumi, an alumni of the school, while expressing disappointment in how much the school has decayed, urged government to quickly come to the aid of the people and renovate the school being the only hope of the people around the area.
“The government needs to help, this school is the only secondary school for children from this area. It’s disappointing that this is happening,” he said.
Library With No Textbooks
While a library is expected to house collections of books, periodicals and sometimes recordings for people (students) to read, borrow or refer to, the one at CCHS is a mere carcass – accommodating only three tables and no bookshelves. The school has no academic materials for students to read during free hours. Pupils are made to buy textbooks and other academic materials despite the free education in the state.
In October 2019, the Governor Rotimi Akeredolu administration in Ondo claimed it had spent N13bn on education in the state since coming into office. With this figure, it is therefore shocking to see the level of rot in Community Comprehensive High School, Sabomi.
Here’s a photo of the school library:
Computer Science Lab With No Computers
Apart from not having a functional library, students of the school do not also have the luxury of a computer laboratory. The closest they have seen of a computer is inside textbooks. While conversing with this reporter, some of the pupils joked at how they have been equipped with the textbook theory of how a computer works but never operated one in reality.
“We don’t have computers in our school, our teachers teaches us from textbooks and we write the examination based on what we have been taught.
“Maybe two or three students in the senior class can boast of having the practical knowledge of how to operate a computer maybe because their relatives in the town have a computer,” one of the students said.
Koledoye, another student, also lamented the fact that students in the school have no access to computers while revealing that the two computers in the school are faulty and the school has no immediate plans to repair them.
“We don’t have computers but we have a room tagged computer science lab in the school.
“The two desktop computers left in the lab are not functional,” he said.
Barricaded Bush Used As Toilet As Students Risk Snakebites
The sight of CCHS’ toilet hurriedly brings thoughts of the dangers of open defecation to mind. A pit latrine and with no access to water, students are forced to improvise by using leaves or papers to clean themselves after using the toilet.
“That toilet? I can’t use it, never,” said a female student, who narrated how she once rushed home during lectures to answer the call of nature so as to avoid contracting infection.
“That day, I ran home from class because I couldn’t hold it anymore. I needed to use the toilet but after one of my friends in school complained about contracting toilet infection from the latrine, I had stopped moving close to the place,” she added.
The female pupil said that aside being infected with disease, the risk of being bitten by a snake while trying to use the school’s toilet was a real threat.
“Aside from toilet infection, you could get bitten by a snake in that place. It’s so bushy that you can’t even see the floor,” she said.
Pleas For Urgent Government Intervention
Going by the terrible state of infrastructure in the school, pupils and their parents have appealed to the Akeredolu-led Ondo State Government to immediately turn its attention towards renovating the school. They have asked the governor to prioritise education and ensure that schools in rural and inner communities get sufficient funding to avoid a collapse of infrastructure.
Some of the parents, who spoke, lamented that lack of quality education for their children could further increase poverty level in the region if not quickly addressed.
“We strive to work and ensure our children get educated but it is sad that the only school available for us in this community is not in good shape.
“Teachers are not enough, textbooks are not provided for students let alone other academic facilities.
“Our worry is that one day there won’t be school in the community and our children’s future would be jeorpadised thereby further impoverishing this community. We do not want this to happen that is why we are crying out for help,” one parent said.