…One teacher tutors primary 1-6 pupils in some schools
…ln some schools, head teacher, headmistress are only teachers
…Generator house converted to school building
…Roof, floor leaking in many schools; reptiles perambulate
By Emem Idio
SOAKED roofs, broken floors, lack of toilet facilities and reptile- infested environment are some of the common sights that greet a first time visitor to most of the public primary and secondary schools in Bayelsa State, particularly in the hinterlands.
A recent visit by NDV to some public schools in parts of the state revealed that the learning environment in some of the schools was far from conducive for learning.
Pupils receive tutorials in rickety structures. In almost all the schools visited, water, sanitation and toilet facilities were lacking.
According to the headmaster in one of the community schools in Yenagoa Local Government Area, lack of water and good toilet facilities have created a situation where pupils defecate in nearby bushes and around the school premises, creating serious challenges in the environment.
At the Community Secondary School, Azikoro village, newly admitted students of Junior Secondary School one, JSS 1, were seen taking classes in an open makeshift structure.
We’re at the mercy of reptiles —Headmistress
In another community primary school visited, the headmistress, who pleaded anonymity, said whenever it rains, they use planks to support the seats as the classrooms were usually flooded from the broken concrete floors.
“The situation here is pathetic, our school has been overtaken by grasses. Usually, I pay labourers to cut the grasses because of reptiles, I do not allow my pupils to cut the grasses and moreover, the pupils are not old enough to do such work. But the problem is that the overhead is barely enough to pay labourers and most times I add my personal money, which is why you are seeing the school overtaken by grasses.
“We are at the mercy of dangerous reptiles. They said the overhead is supposed to be N15, 000 but since I came here, what I get is between N11,000 and N14,000. The conditions of the classrooms is another issue, whenever it rains, the floors are flooded due to the broken floors, so we use planks to raise the chairs for the pupils, which is not ideal.
“The classrooms too are overcrowded because we have to combine the pupils because of lack of teachers. To augment, we now use the clerk as one of our teachers,” she lamented.
No teachers, headmaster laments
Another headmaster who refused to be named, said he employed the services of students of the National Teachers Institute, NTI, who are on their Teaching Practice, TP, to supplement the shortage of teachers.
“We do not have water and toilets, and if you look around, you will see that the environment is littered with faeces and urine because when nature calls, our pupils will be left with no option than to help themselves in whatever way they can,” he said.
Sorry to say… education politicized in Bayelsa
— NUT chair
Reacting to the situation, the state Chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Pastor Kalaama Tonpre said: “If you had gone to some of our remote villages, you will see that the situation is far worse than what you have seen.
There is a community where a generator house serves as a school building. Formerly, there was a state of emergency in education sector, but at the end, the state of emergency was haphazard, it was not a total emergency declaration.”
“Currently, primary education is in a mess. I am very sorry to say that Bayelsa State politicized the issue of education, the truth is bitter but must be told. There is acute shortage of teachers, we have no teachers and some schools have only one teacher taking from primary one to six. In some schools, it is only the head teacher and headmistress that are the teachers. This is the funny situation in Bayelsa State. That critical sector is totally neglected.”
Govt aware of challenges —Emelah, Education commissioner
Commissioner for Education, Mr. Gentle Emelah, said the state government was aware of the challenges confronting the education sector and was making efforts to address them, but noted that all cannot be fixed in one day.
On infrastructure decay, he asserted: “Those are the things we are addressing, you are aware that contracts have been awarded for the construction of new schools and renovation of schools, it is an ongoing process and it is not something that can be done just in a day, we are aware and we are working on it.”
Audit exercise to fish out educators
Commenting on the shortage of teachers, he said: “Generally, the issue of teachers have been of concern, when I came on board, I raised the issue of teachers and we are working on that and that is why government is right now on a personnel audit exercise and the essence of the exercise is to fish out people that can teach in our schools.
“We believe that this year, we should be able to fish out people who are hiding under the civil service who are supposed to be in the schools. When we have the resources, we equally want to engage new teachers and send them to the schools,” he added.