NEWS News Update

Aftermath of The Nation report: Ogun school where pupils learn in open space gets facelift

Aftermath of The Nation report: Ogun school where pupils learn in open space gets facelift

Following a report recently published by The Nation, the Ogun State Government has commenced the rehabilitation of the decrepit classrooms at Sawonjo High School in Yewa North Local Government Area where pupils had been forced to attend classes in open space in the last 12 years, KUNLE AKINRINADE reports.

 

Few weeks after The Nation reported the plight of the pupils of Sawonjo High School, Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, where they were forced to learn in the open for 12 years as a result of the collapse of the structures that served as classrooms, the state government has started the renovation of a block of classrooms at the school.

In  the report, Ogun School Where Pupils Learn in Open Space 12 Years After Structures Collapsed’, ’published on October 31, 2020, about 32 pupils seated on rickety chairs were seen receiving lessons in an open space inside the expansive school complex, facing a blackboard erected at the back of a collapsed classroom block.

The deplorable conditions of two of the three blocks of classrooms were simply beyond human imagination. The ceilings had caved in while the walls were so weak that the pupils had to be evacuated from them to learn in the open space for fear that the structures could collapse at any time and that could spell a disaster.

Pitiably, one of the three classroom blocks had its roof in fairly good condition, leaving other students whose classrooms’ roofs had fallen off to seek refuge in the dilapidated structure. The walls were riddled with cracks while the rubble of damaged furniture and collapsed ceilings complete the sorry sight of the classroom block.

The pupils, their teachers and community leaders decried the decaying infrastructure at the school and the dehumanising learning environment, urging the state government to take urgent steps to fix the collapsed structures in the school.

The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun, Mr Kunle Somorin, had said the 40-year-old school could benefit from the next phase of the rehabilitation projects in various parts of the state.

“The State had successfully constructed and rehabilitated a total number of 94 blocks of classrooms for public primary and junior secondary schools across the three senatorial districts in the state in the first year of this administration.

“I am sure in the coming phase, Sanwonjo High School might just be a beneficiary. It is an on-going contract with the people, and we are determined not to let the people down,’’ Somorin said.

When our correspondent visited the school during the week, work had started on one of the collapsed structures. One of the abandoned buildings, a block of four classrooms, had been roofed with modern corrugated iron sheets while workers were seen plastering the cracked walls.

Some workers were also seen fixing the ceilings and other decaying parts of the classrooms.

Unlike before, one of the decrepit classrooms where damaged chairs and desks were kept had been cleared. The classroom, which still retains ruptured ceilings, is where the pupils now receive lessons.

A source told The Nation that the state government felt embarrassed by the story published earlier, forcing the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to visit the school three days after the story was published and causing the latter to quickly mobilise a contractor to fix the collapsed structures.

The source said: “I think the state government was jolted by the report published by The Nation. In fact, we learnt that the principal of the school was reprimanded for allowing a reporter to capture the repulsive conditions of the classrooms in the school.

“The Principal was afraid because he has just about five months left to retire from service after several years of teaching and serving as a school administrator.

•One of new block of class rooms under construction

“Three days after the report was published, SUBEB officials visited the school and a contractor was given the contract to fix the structures.

“The contractor has been mandated to finish the job before the school closes for the year.”

One of the workers carrying out the facelift exercise also confirmed to The Nation that the state government had mandated the contractor to finish and hand over the project by December 15.

“We are now working very hard to ensure that we complete the job by December 15 as directed by the state government, to ensure that the facilities are in order before the close of session for the yuletide holiday.’’

A resident, Elder Ademola, said the condition of the school would have persisted but for the report published by The Nation.

He said: “We are thankful especially to your newspaper for bringing the plight of the school to public notice, because the state government responded immediately to the story and got a contractor to fix the decaying structures in the school.

“We had cried out to the education authorities without any positive response despite the fact that they promised to fix one of the classrooms in terrible conditions.

“But now, even our children who are pupils in the school are happy that they would soon return to their classrooms when repairs are completed.’’

Emmanuel Falaye, an indigene of the community, urged the state government to initiate proactive maintenance measures to protect school structures across the state.

He noted that the school would not have suffered from infrastructural decay for more than 10 years if good maintenance culture had been put in place to prevent the classrooms from being damaged.

“The state government or authorities of SUBEB must ensure that a robust maintenance initiative is created to protect school structures across the state from being destroyed or damaged by environmental and human factors,’’ he added.

SUBEB chair inspects project

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Dr. Femi Majekodunmi, led officials of the agency on inspection of the renovation project during the week.

Majekodunmi, who praised Governor Abiodun for his strides since he assumed duties as governor of the state, noted that other challenges facing education in the state would be addressed before long.

“This is to get to the field and see things for myself. There have been many achievements recorded by Dapo Abiodun since he became governor less than two years ago. However, we know that there are still many problems.

“Some of these problems have got to do with infrastructure; some have got to do with inadequate teachers and things like that. In treating files, I have come across so many things (sic).’’

The entourage, it was gathered, also visited some schools in Ilaro, Yewa South Local Government, Yewa North Local Government areas as well as Baptist Day Primary School in Ibogun Olaogun in Ifo Local Government Area where rehabilitation of deplorable structures at the instance of the state government are ongoing.


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