By Seye Agunmu
The voices of children spelling English words, filled the air inside a ‘plank and roofing’ structure close to an abandoned building, in a surrounding that is gradually being overtaken by thick bushes.
Barely visible heads of children peek through a rusty fence of aluminium sheets with holes, on which rested old door frames, boards and other materials appearing to have been salvaged from an old house.
However, the bright faces of 150 pupils, the future leaders, who despite all odd, attend St. John Anglican Primary School, make their pitiable situation somewhat bearable.
Those responsible for constructing the shed-turned classrooms of the public primary school justified their action as a noble act to prevent the school from going into extinction following the implementation of a government policy.
The Chairman, Agbena Community Development Association, Mr Tayo Jagunmolu told Radio Nigeria that the pupils were deprived of access to classrooms following government’s directive on its relocation from Adekanmbi village on the premises of another state owned tertiary institution, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, MAPOLY, Ojere, Abeokuta.
The Community leader claimed that the school teachers had pleaded with residents of Agbena Community, located opposite the main Gate of MAPOLY to take advantage of the relocation of the school from the Polytechnic’s campus to have their own public school.
“The initial plan was to temporarily accommodate the pupils in our community hall, to enable the government to provide blocks of classrooms for their use, but the residents had to erect a make shift structure when the hall could no longer cater for the increase in school enrolment and the government was not forthcoming” Mr Jagunmolu said.
Other leaders in the community also submitted that the lack of basic facilities for the school was becoming more dangerous for both the pupils and teachers making use of the makeshift school.
The Vice Chairman of the CDA, Prince Abiodun Adegoroye pointed out that the feat was achieved through communal efforts with the hope that the state ministry of education, science and technology as well as the state universal basic education board would make the place conducive for the pupils and the teachers.
Prince Adegoroye retorted that “several letters had been written to the government’s agencies and we have made lots of appeals but two years after we took the decision to accommodate the school we have not heard anything from the government”.
Another member of the CDA executive, Mr Oluseye Apata also disclosed that about two hundred thousand naira had been expended on the project by the community, saying that “two sets of primary six pupils had finished from the school after its relocation to Agbena while more children were being enrolled, but the only thing contributed by the state government was the posting of teachers to teach the pupils”.
The Public relations officer of MAPOLY, Mr Sulaimon Adebiyi explained that the relocation of the school was necessitated by the need to check the rate of serious incursions into the Polytechnic’s land spanning about 900 hectares.
He stated that “settlers within the Institution’s perimeter fencing were asked to vacate the premises, including the public primary school”.
The commissioner for education, science and technology, Mrs Modupe Mujota directed Radio Nigeria to the office of the state SUBEB Chairman, Alhaji Jeleel Okewole who gave the assurance that the board would embark on the construction of classrooms for the pupils within the next two weeks.
“I have been to the school and I have seen that where they are quartered is not the best, however SUBEB in our ongoing intervention projects has concluded arrangements to provide a block of classrooms for them at first instance, within the next one or two weeks”, the Chairman of SUBEB said.
Alhaji Okewole also implored philanthropic individuals and corporate organisations to partner the government of Governor Ibikunle Amosun in the provision of education infrastructure.
Seye Agunma is a staff of Radio Nigeria
He can be contacted via…firstname.lastname@example.org