Oyoko Primary School: An avoidable saga
Sir: While I will continue to support the fundamental needs of Delta State and the positive purpose of the elected government if such policies by the state actors will not in any way dent or obstruct the people from becoming keen to acquire skills and disciplines of developed nations, I will, however, not support a policy/action based on sentiment or allow sentiment to determine its judgments.
A typical example of such an exception is the pictures of the sorry state of Oyoko Primary School, Abavo, Ika South Local Government Area of the state currently in circulation.
The disturbing pictures showed visibly distressed structures, dilapidated classrooms laced with fallen ceilings, windows and doors. Going by the pictures and accompanying commentaries, it cannot be characterised as an overstatement to describe such a ‘scene’ as deplorable, dehumanising, troubling, in bad light, bracingly in contravention of international best standard and most importantly, a reality that all well meaning Deltans including our dear governor should worry about.
Paradoxically also, within this period, I have had the unfortunate opportunity to read many commentaries underlining that this is not the time to hold our state government accountable for such an ugly scenario as the responsibility of the primary schools and primary education in the state falls within the purview of the local government authority. To others, the only remedy for this problem is simply to encourage parents to accept fate as across the world, education is neither easy nor cheap to fund.
Without doubt, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has done appreciably well for the sector. Take as an illustration, Delta State under Okowa’s first term in office, witnessed the renovation/reconstruction/construction of over 5,000 classrooms. He also incubated, nurtured and brought into existence three healthy universities to cater for the academic yearnings of the people of the state.
Evidence also abounds that as a result of the work of the Technical and Vocational Education Board in conjunction with the supervising Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education in the state, six technical colleges in Agbor, Sapele, Ofagbe, Utagba-Ogbe, Ogor and Issele-Uku have been fully rehabilitated, well equipped and fully functional. Consequently, Delta is the first state in the country to have all of the courses offered by its technical colleges accredited by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
These efforts notwithstanding, the truth is that the state leadership is bound to face confusion in their minds and may not be able to finish strong as presently envisaged if they allow this present reality at Oyoko and other schools to flourish unaddressed.
For me, I think the Oyoko primary school saga was avoidable if only government’s attention was drawn to it by those who should know.
Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi is the programme coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos