1st November, 2010
Mr. Ray was very elated when his daughter got admission into one of the publicÂ secondary schools in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria.Â His daughter had just graduatedÂ from a private primary school.
Before now, he had heard of the supposed great innovation and transformation inÂ public schools in the state by the Governor Babatunde Fashola administration.Â He hadÂ heard the media hype about how public schools in the state were now better thanÂ private secondary schools.
His joy knew no bounds when the name of his daughter was among the over 800 studentsÂ admitted into Junior Secondary School, JSS 1 in the public secondary school.Â HeÂ quickly enrolled his daughter and she started school.
Rayâ€™s joy soon evaporated and his senses returned.Â On a particular day, he paid aÂ visit to the school and to his consternation, he saw his daughter and hundreds ofÂ JSS one students sitting outside, in the blazing sun taking a lesson.Â There was noÂ class to house the students because a particular building which was supposed toÂ house the students was uncompleted.
Ray had never before seen this kind of scenario where students take lectures in theÂ open.Â It was only in far away northern Nigeria, where education is still at itsÂ lowest ebb, that such a thing was discovered, and that was some years ago, but hereÂ is a school in Lagos, the acclaimed Centre of Excellence, in the 21st century havingÂ children taking lessons without a roof over their head, and at the mercy of theÂ elements.
This is a classic example of Iba Estate Junior Secondary School in Iba Local CouncilÂ Development Area, LCDA. This is a school where the future of the students is inÂ jeopardy.Â They are rotting away and nothing is being done about it.
Several weeks later after the students took lessons in the open, the schoolÂ authority managed to roof the building and moved the students inside, but they wereÂ like grasshoppers inside the classes. When P.M.Metro visited the school, it was anÂ appalling sight.
The classes were choked up with no space to move around.Â The was barely enough spaceÂ meant the teacher. Some who could not get a place to sit simply squatted close toÂ the teacher to listen and take notes.
In one arm of the JSS classes, several pupils who could not get a place to sit inÂ the class peeped through the window to listen to the teacher. Many students putÂ their chairs and benches in the class corridor and whiled away time as the teacherÂ taught the rest of the class. The students in the corridor could not hear what theÂ teacher was saying.Â They simply engaged in chatting, playing and do all sorts ofÂ things.
In JSS three, some students were seen peeping through the window to take notes.Â AÂ student said they decided to stay outside and peep through the window to take notedÂ because there was no place for them in the class.Â Apart from this, there was no wayÂ students sitting at the back in some of the classes could hear what the teacher wasÂ saying.
Over 100 students were seen in each class.Â The classes were simply overcrowded andÂ the students showing were clearly restless.Â There was no way students learning underÂ this environment could grasp anything.Â They would definitely end up failures.
The authorities of the school has now capitalized on the inadequacy of classrooms toÂ extort money from the students illegally through the Parentsâ€™ Forum.
Under the forum, each of the 2,312 students was required to pay N600, summing up toÂ over N1 million to purchase canopies to be put outside for students to stay under toÂ take lessons.Â Mrs. Labiran is the chairman of the forum.Â The money charged theÂ students is collected by a teacher in the school without the knowledge of the stateÂ government.
Prince Olu-Omo Abisagbo is the Principal of the school.Â Thinking we were parents ofÂ some students in the school, he opened up to us, saying that the situation in theÂ school was appalling and begged us to help them appeal to the state government toÂ come to the aid of the school.
He said the population of the school is 2,312, which far outstretched the facilitiesÂ in the school, adding that “since government said they are building schools, we areÂ waiting for them.â€
Speaking with us on phone and thinking we were parents, the chairman of the ParentsÂ Forum, Labiran stated that some students could not write examinations last termÂ because there was no place for them to sit in the classrooms, adding that theÂ parents met to find ways to address the ugly trend.
According to her, each parent had been asked to pay N600 to purchase canopies to beÂ erected outside for the students to take lessons, adding that some parents hadÂ already paid. She said if the school was to wait for the uncompleted building in theÂ school to be completed, it would take time, hence, the need to pay the money to buyÂ canopies.
Iba Estate Junior Secondary School is not the only school in the Lagos metropolisÂ with population explosion and inadequate classes, there are several others stillÂ begging for attention and if nothing urgent is done, the future of these students isÂ certainly bleak.