Lagos State may have assumed the image of the fastest growing economy in Nigeria, centre of excellence and a place to be in Nigeria, but it appears all these might not be enough to insulate the state against the challenges that come with overpopulation and inadequate preparation for a large population surge in a third world settlement.
An important, but obvious area, where the state of aquatic splendour is begging for urgent attention is the state of facilities and infrastructure in most of the primary and secondary public schools provided by the state government to raise future leaders. Prior to September, 2020, when some members of the Education Committee of the Lagos State House of Assembly visited selected public schools in the state before the students could resume after the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 lockdown, the committee members were probably oblivious of the dilapidated state of many public schools in the state. The Committee, led by Hon. Yinka Ogundimu (Agege 2) would later realise that state needed to urgently address the issue of education in the state.
The visit was an exposition of sorts for the lawmakers and the principals and teachers of the public schools that were visited by the lawmakers did not allow the opportunity to pass them by as they made startling revelations about the challenges facing several public schools in the metropolitan state.
From Agege to Ikeja, Mushin, Amuwo Odofin, Badagry, Epe, Ikorodu, Yaba, Lagos Island, the issues were almost the same; overcrowded classrooms, dilapidated schools buildings, inadequate number of teachers amongst others. For instance, a visit to Babs Fafunwa Millennium Senior Secondary School in Ojodu revealed that the school authority needed to do more on general cleaning of the school.
It was also discovered that there was inadequate provision of toilet facilities for the students. It was also obvious that a lot of furniture in the school had broken down and needed replacement.
At Herbert Macaulay Girls Senior High School, Yaba, the Principal, Mrs. Oshin Adetutu disclosed that the school had 25 teachers with a total population of 771 students, and that the school lacked teachers for Mathematics, Biology and Christian Religion Knowledge (CRK). Similarly, Mrs Cecilia Okewo, Principal of Eletu Odibo Senior High School, Abule-Oja Yaba disclosed that the school lacked Chemistry, Mathematics and Fine Art teachers.
She also said that one of the school buildings and the fence were defective. This, according to her needed serious attention. “We have made complaints about these to the necessary quarters, but we are still awaiting the response of the government. We believe that it would be fixed soon,” she said.
The situation was not different at Fazl-l-Omar Senior School, Iwaya, Yaba. The Principal of the school, Mr. Yusuf Olokodana said that the school had 27 teachers with 833 students and six classrooms, and that there were no teachers for Mathematics, History and Home Economics, while the classrooms were congested.
It was however, observed that construction works were ongoing for blocks of classrooms to accommodate students in some of the schools visited. At Araromi Ilogbo Senior Secondary School, Oko Afo, Badagry, it was discovered that there was population explosion in the school, and that they lacked enough classrooms/furniture with inadequate number of teachers.
With a population of 3,800, the average number of students in a classroom was given as 160. This was also the case at Araromi Ilogbo Junior Secondary Schools, where it was discovered that the school had a total of 5000 students and an average of 170 students in one class.
The situation was not different at Sitto Gbethrome Junior Secondary School, where they had 22 teachers to 1039 students and it was disclosed that the school is usually invaded by Fulani Herdsmen. For Odogunyan Junior Grammar School, Ikorodu it was discovered that the students of the school must be relocated immediately as all the buildings in the school were weak and had become death traps for both the students and the teachers.
The Principal of the school, Mr. Tolulope Ogunlola had earlier told the committee that the situation in the school was terrible and that he had made several efforts to ensure the reconstruction of the buildings.
Ogunlola revealed that the school was always flooded during rainy season and that the main story building in the school vibrates regularly thus endangering the lives of the teachers and students. “If you had come during rainy season, you will understand what we are talking about. The place is usually in a big mess. The whole place would be flooded such that we would find it difficult to gain access to the classrooms.
“One of the blocks of classrooms vibrates each time a heavy duty vehicle passes through the main road such that both the students and the teachers would be afraid. We have even abandoned some classrooms as they are in bad shape.
“We have written several reports and sent pictures to the relevant authorities, but we are still waiting for response,” Ogunlola added. He said that the school had a population of over 4,000 students with about 140 students in a class. At Mende Junior High School, Maryland, Ikeja, it was discovered that the toilet was not functioning properly and that the school has 739 students with 10 classes and an average of 80 students per class. At Immaculate Heart Comprehensive Junior High School, the Principal, Mrs. Ogunbiyi Adedotun disclosed that they had 1053 students and average of 96 students per class with 25 teachers and six management staff.
It was discovered that the school had challenges of classrooms, furniture and shortage of teachers. There were startling revelations in Government Senior College, Epe, where they had a dysfunctional building. More so, the building, which houses the office of the principal and some classrooms, had been partially abandoned as part of the roof had collapsed causing it to be flooded and unsuitable for studies.
The Principal of the school, Mr. Olawoyin Titilayo disclosed that the school’s population is 692 with 13 classrooms. Also at Epe Girls Junior High School, the Principal, Mrs. Olayinka Beatrice Jonah disclosed that school needed more classrooms and that they lacked teachers in subjects such as Agric, PHE, Home Economics, Basic Science, and Basic Technology. “We need teachers in some relevant subjects such as Agric, PHE, Home Economics, Basic Science and Basic Technology. We are appealing to the government to help us in this regard,” he said.
At the Senior arm, the Principal, Mrs. Olanike Babatunde disclosed that the school had a population of 1024, four functional classrooms and six make shift classrooms on the ground floor of an uncompleted building in the school. She said that they had 25 teachers, and that they needed more teachers in Mathematics, English Language, English Literature, Geography, Yoruba,CRK and others.
At Odo Obara Secondary School in Epe, it was discovered that the state government needed to declare a state of emergency on the Junior and Senior Secondary arms of the school. It was discovered that the school needed an immediate reconstruction, the classrooms and the furniture there are bad and the staff rooms were not conducive for the teachers. It was also discovered that the hall of Odo Obara Senior High School, Epe was deplorable and that it needed urgent rehabilitation.
All these summed up the feeling and believe that the Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu-led government in the state must take the bull by the horn and urgently address the need to provide facilities in all the public schools in the coastal state.