“I’m not happy, they’ve neglected us in our community, if they can help us, please let them come — there’s no borehole, we usually go to the stream. There are just cables, no light at all in this community for more than 5 years. This is the only primary school in Uroh-Uzea with no private school, and this is where all the children are schooling. It is in a bad state.”
Those are the words conveying the lamentations of the community chief, the Aluna of Uzea Kingdom, situated in the hinter part of Edo State under Esan North Local Government area. He echoes the feelings of the community members who endure a plethora of challenges, which make them feel forgotten. Most important on the list of their complaints is about the dilapidated state of their primary school (Uroh Primary School, Uzea) which serves as the community school irrespective of the status of everyone residing there.
During UDEME visit to the community, it was indeed a sorry tale where one cannot hurriedly forget because the road access to the community was clearly in a pathetic condition. In a conversation with UDEME tracker, the bike-man who took the reporter round recounted ordeal of how he almost fell into a pit with his bike one rainy day. He further affirmed that the road was usually a nightmare for both residents and visitors plying through especially when there’s rainfall or during the rainy season as everywhere gets muddy.
The only community primary school which was established in 1955, which is supposed to serve as a haven for academic advancement has been exposed to disaster as the roofs of some classrooms depicted a collapsed outlook. The horrible sight of the school surrounding makes one to immediately develop goose pimples as the environment was looking unpleasant with goat dungs littered everywhere the premises.
UDEME further gathered that the buildings of the schools were not only in shambles but conditions in which the pupils learn were absolutely unfit for where human beings, especially the young ones who are often referred to as the leaders of tomorrow should be groomed. While the roofs of some of the classrooms have been blown open, it has sunshine and rain to have unhindered access to the classroom. The repulsive and deplorable look of the buildings keeps one doubting if it’s actually a place where learning activities take place.
“It is a school,” one of the passersby said, even with the rusty and dingy environment. However, as at the time of visit in late August, the students were on vacation for the summer break but they were visibly seen playing on the streets.
The environment in which learning takes place is very important as it is capable of either enhancing or impeding the learning capacities of students and pupils. A woman, who’s also a parent, Mrs Patience while speaking to UDEME tracker said: “as you can see two blocks of classrooms have become dilapidated and unsafe for the children. The ceilings have caved in and the walls cracked at different corners, giving spaces for insects to hide but sadly, the pupils and their teachers have no option than to use the classrooms as the way it is.”
Further checks around the school revealed there was no provision for toilets where children could ease themselves but instead they make use of the nearby bush to defecate or urinate as the case may be. Worried about the deplorable state of the schools in their community, the people have appealed to the government and the respective agencies to come to their aid.
Aluna of Uzea Kingdom worried…
Chief Odidi, the Aluna of Uzea Kingdom, in a conversation with UDEME, said the school which had over 200 hundred students and approximately 4 teachers had been a major source of concern to students, parents and the entire residents of the community. He further lamented about the state of the community which is languishing in erratic power supply with no electricity for about 4 years, no borehole or access to potable drinking water, He said that despite the community several attempts to salvage the situation through collective efforts, it ended in futility because of the huge cost implication and other factors beyond his powers.
The Community chief in a bid to corroborate his claims and to further register his displeasure about the state of the school, accompanied the UDEME tracker round the school as his house was directly opposite the school. He said, “Nothing has been done, the school is old. See this block, breeze carry am, since I’ve been in this place there has not been any renovation. My children attended the school, I’ve children in class 3 and 4. Around 6 years ago, they brought chairs in the old structures.”
The Headmaster of the school, Mr Udaghe F.O, in a conversation with UDEME said “I reported the issue to the Education Secretary. I wrote to her, she promised to forward it to Benin. I’ve written for about 5 months ago. Since then there was no response. I have up to 200 students with about 7 teachers with no corps members, I’m still waiting for the ministry. I have also reported the issue to the personal assistant to the Governor of Edo state, who also came to see the school physically, Mrs Dicta Ogbemudia, she promised to also get back. However, I’m not aware of any refurbishment”.
“I’ll be happy if urgent steps are taken to develop the school, I’m of the opinion that the structure should be renovated or reconstructed,” he added.
The head teacher, expressed deep frustration while speaking to UDEME. He said there’s no likelihood of the government’s plan to rebuild the community school because since he had written several letters, nothing has happened till date.
The rehabilitation and furnishing of the school (Uroh Primary School, Uzea, Uzea-Uromi) which was supposed to be carried out by UBEC as the agency, was earmarked for N26 million naira in 2016 but however got abandoned/neglected totally while some other schools which also got N26m each for the same process were not built completely.
Lawmaker Odia reacts…
In his response when interviewed by UDEME tracker by phone as regards the controversies surrounding the school’s deplorable state, Clifford Odia, the Edo Central senator, said: “Go to UBEC, they did it, they will talk about the state of the project, it was approved.”
When intimated about the plights and yearnings of the resident members, He said, “that cannot be correct, before the projects were done, UBEC took supervision of the project alongside other projects, these projects are 2016 project, how can we be talking about 2016 project in 2018, it’s not a new project.”
When quizzed about his knowledge concerning the state of the constituency project in Uzea-Uromi, He said: “What we do (as senators) is to hand it over to the agencies, Uzea Uromi was handled by UBEC and they did a perfect job.” He, however, made another statement saying, “When you’re building a new school, the cost will be high, They (UBEC) renovated a 6 classroom block in the school, if it was to be the construction of a brand new building, the cost will be more than that.”
But the condition of the school seen UDEME ran counter to Mr Odia’s claims.
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