Education is essential for the growth and development of any nation, and Nigeria is no exception. However, the state of education in Nigeria has been a major concern for decades. This is because, the education system in Nigeria is bisected with myriads of problems including; lack of educational infrastructures, poor funding, inadequate classrooms, and teaching aids, polluted learning environment, among others. Due to these inadequacies, the educational system is plagued with numerous social vices such as examination malpractices, cultism, hooliganism and corruption.
According to a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2021, in spite of the Nigerian government promises to allocate 26% of its annual budget to education, that has not been achieved, with the sector receiving less than 10% of the budget in recent years.
Despite being the most populous country in Africa and having the largest economy, Nigeria is number 136 on the UNESCO ranking of literacy rate in the World, with only 62.02% of the adult population able to read and write.
In Edo State, one of the most significant challenges facing government schools is lack of educational infrastructure and poor funding by the government. One of such schools is Oghede Secondary School located in Oghede Community, Ovia North East Local Government Area of the State. The secondary school serves as a community school for other neighboring communities including, Ugbighoko, Agemwingie, Ohohor, and Ekehwan Barracks.
The Oghede Secondary School was seen in a bad condition when our correspondent visited the community. This follows the poor condition of the school buildings and classrooms, including lack of chairs and desks, inadequate toilet facilities, among others.
Corroborating the observation, the Enogie of Oghede Community, Elder Osadebamen Aghahowa decried the absence of government in the community saying that, the school has been in a bad condition for many years.
“This community is not recognized by the government. As it is now, we do not have any impact or support from the government. The secondary school we have in this community, if you go there you will see how it looks like. About last year or last two years, the secondary school got burnt, with the efforts of the community, the school was fixed.
“Early this year, the roof of the school was removed and destroyed by strong winds, you can go to the school now and see what I am talking about.
He however, called on the state government to come to their aid, as there are inadequate health care facilities and bad roads in the community.
“We have written to the state government several times but no response. When it rains, the students are packed up in the few class rooms with roof to receive lectures which is not proper.
“Aside the community secondary school, the primary school does not have classrooms, our health centre lacks facilities and the roads are very bad. So please, we are calling on Edo State government to come to our aid. We have written to the government several times but no response,” Aghahowa said.
Another respondent, Prince Elvis Edomoye, the Youth Chairman of Ogede community, said the school was still existing due to concerted efforts and financial contributions from the community leaders.
“This community has not felt the impact of the state government for over ten years. If you see the school now, we have been using our money to patch the zinc and other roofing there.
“So we are calling on the government to fix the secondary school, repair our roads and provide health facilities in our community health centre. Even the primary school, we are the ones spending money to maintain it. There is no government presence or impact in this community over ten years now,” he noted.
On her part, a resident, Omoyemwen Omorogbee called on the state government to come to their rescue and renovate the school, as the present condition poses a threat to the education of their children and wards, adding that, the school premises has turned into hideout for criminal activities.
“The condition of the school is not a good environment for learning at all. The school has turned into hideout for criminals because, it is not fenced, it is not secured, a lot of illegal activities goes on at night in the school premises which is not supposed to be so. We are calling on Governor Obaseki to make Oghede Secondary School environment friendly, so as to encourage education.
“The school is not for Oghede Community only; we have children coming from different communities to learn in that school. Those days, we believe government schools are the best and people encourage their children and wards to attend but today, it is not so.
“A school with poor conditions and environment breeds bad behaved children but if the school is in a good condition, the children will be well behaved,” she said.
Similarly, Edith Omoregie said her children are currently learning under deplorable conditions in the school adding that, the classrooms are overcrowded due to the fact that some of the classrooms had their roofs blown off by the wind, leaving them completely exposed to these elements.
“I have two children attending Oghede Secondary School, and they are always complaining to me about the poor condition of the school. Truly it is bad, there are no chairs, no water, no toilet facilities, nothing at all.
“Please I want the government to provide basic amenities in the school to make learning environment conducive for our children,” she pleaded.
In his remarks, Elder Godwin Ozugbo noted that if the government does not intervene, the infrastructure problems of the school will affect academic performance and infringe on the right to education, safety, and health of both students and teachers.
“Some years back when the roof was destroyed, it was through the efforts of our Enogie and community that the school was fixed. Now it has happened again, and because of that, students can no longer receive lectures in those classrooms, no chairs, no roof and even the classrooms with few roofing left are congested. Our children are not happy learning in such environment.
“We even had to meet with the school management to see how we can contribute towards the school but things are very hard this period so we could not meet up. And that is where the government comes in we are calling on them to intervene. The teachers are tired of complaining, they always come and meet with the Enogie to complain and ask for assistance regarding the school, and Enogie has done his best as well.
“We have children from other communities like Ugbighoko, Agemwingie, Oholor and parts of Ekewan Barracks attending this school in Ogede Community. So the school is heavily congested and we are calling on the State government to come to our aid.
In spite of, the reported infrastructural development across public schools in Edo State, most community schools are still wallowing in neglect and decadence regardless of huge budgetary allocation to education annually, these schools do not receive sufficient attention from government and other critical stakeholders.
On May 1, 2023, after the closing ceremony of Edo Education Week, Governor Godwin Obaseki revealed that the state government planned to spend N6 billion on rehabilitation of secondary schools in the state within 16 months.
“Between now, May 1 and September 1, next year, all the funding I used to put under State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR) project for roads will now go into secondary schools and this is in excess of N6 billion for secondary schools alone. This is because unlike basic schools and junior school, we don’t have federal support for secondary schools”.
As part of the target goals of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), quality education has been appraised by many experts as one of the driving goals that will create the roadmap for a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve the lives and prospects of everyone. Therefore, it has become imperative for stakeholders especially government at all levels, to invest more in the education sector as to meet the target of achieving a quality education.