Edo State government has taken steps to tackle deep decay in the education system including fixing crumbling infrastructure in many public schools in agreement with measurable learning target.
In that regard, Governor Godwin Obaseki has reportedly approved contracts for the refurbishment of 230 primary schools.
The move, according to the governor, was part of efforts to provide effective learning environment for pupils in primary schools and improve performance.
He said the process of compiling a list of another batch of 230 public primary schools to be rebuilt in the first quarter of 2019 was on and that would bring the number of schools marked for renovation to 460.
Obaseki added, “An audit of another 800 schools is also ongoing and if these schools are found to be in need of renovation, they would be added to the 460. The government is not going to leave any school behind in the roll-out of the renovation programme. We are committed to ensuring that schools in are in good shape.”
He explained that government had set up the School-Based Management Committee (SBMC) which would play a role in ensuring that schools were ran effectively and prevent vandals from destroying school facilities.
This reporter found that both primary and secondary schools were renovated by the outgone administration of Adams Oshiomhole but a lot more still needed attention to provide positive learning environment and effective classrooms.
It was observed that while some schools were in relatively good shape, others needed complete turnaround.
Many of them have their windows destroyed by hoodlums while the roofs needed to be changed.
Teachers in one of the schools visited refused to speak when approached, saying they were civil servants and directed the reporter to the Ministry of Education.
At Egeuno Primary School, it was observed that of the two classroom blocks, one was conducive for learning while the second block of over six classrooms was in bad shape with no window and roof said to be leaking.
The headmistress, Mrs B. O. Momodu, said she was not authorised to comment on the matter but a source in the area said the school has nine teachers including the headmistress.
“Six of them were employed by government, two by the community and a youth corps member,” the source said.
Daily Trust gathered that the school has over 300 pupils and as a result of inadequate classrooms over 60 pupils are in one classroom while KG 1, 2 and 3 are in one classroom too,” he said.
It was also learnt the textbooks provided by the government were inadequate as two pupils had to share a book.
The source however said the school would have enough classrooms as soon as the planned renovation exercise was completed.
At another school in Benin City, a teacher who gave his name only as Jackson said the school buildings must be renovated and that it required security fencing to check distraction during classes.
“Our school needs renovation and we also lack instructional materials to teach the pupils. Government is not providing instructional materials. We however have furniture,” said the teacher.
He said “most of the windows and roofs were destroyed by those who come to play football after school hours.”
Another teacher who craved anonymity called on the state government to employ more teachers to reduce the work load on the teaching staff.
“Schools in the state need more teachers, we teach more than the required number of pupils per teacher,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the state Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said government was carrying out massive renovation of decayed school infrastructure.
“The renovation is in two phases; the first is in 230 schools. These are schools that require renovation but are not completely destroyed.
“For instance, if the window, door, roof, desk and chairs are faulty, they would be replaced in this phase so the renovation depends on the problem in that school.
“The governor had a meeting with the contractors after giving the approval for the contract.
“Another 230 schools have already been compiled for renovation in the second phase. These are schools that are completely in bad shape having been destroyed by vandals. They would be reconstructed with all the items and furniture needed for schools to function effectively provided,” he said.
He said the reconstruction of schools was part of the education reform in the state which was in different categories..
“The first category is training of teachers. we have already trained over 7,000 basic education teachers to handle the children using digital equipment. After that, we go into curriculum reform. The computers given to the already trained teachers are loaded with the curriculum and everything the child needs to learn. The third category, is the physical environment of the school which is being done now.
Crusoe disclosed that more teachers would be trained, adding that the pupils were also getting certain books from the State Universal Basic Education Board supported by the Universal Basic Education Commission.
In the area of employment, Osagie said, “there are some schools that have more teachers than they need. I don’t think the problem is the number but how they are distributed.”
“Government has discovered that teachers dislike going to the rural areas while those already there are seeking transfers. To address this, government has placed embargo on transfer of teachers, a teacher has to spend certain number of years before given consideration.
“Our hope is that at the end of this administration, we would have basic education totally revamped in terms of trained teachers, instructional materials provided and the effective learning environment,” he said.