By Eromosele Ebhomele
Lagos State prides itself as the City of Excellence.
But findings by members of the Committee on Education of the Lagos State House of Assembly on the state of one of its so-called model schools have put stains on the claim and indeed put government to shame.
The committee unearthed near-total neglect of the college during an on-the-spot assessment: students’ luggages are kept outside the already overcrowded hostels and students defecate in the open. Besides, the school lacks a library as the library has been converted into an examination hall.
Led by its chairman, Lanre Ogunyemi, the committee, which visited the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, Lagos, said the collegea is riddled with poor infrastructure.
It wants the state government to urgently address the issues in the college to sustain the visions of the founders and restore the lost glory of the school.
Speaking with journalists, Ogunyemi lamented that the Igbonla school has been cut off from the society and that the facilities in the hostels and school premises have been overstretched.
Ogunyemi said: “we don’t want to assume that things are right, which is why we decided to go round all our schools in the state to be sure that we are really doing what ought to be done.
“Our tour so far has been extremely revealing about the dilapidation and retrogression of our model colleges. There is need for us to improve the situation.
“Since much is being given to education in the budget of the state this year, we should seriously improve the facilities in our model schools. We would go back to the drawing board and advise the executive to ensure that we give the children in model schools a new lease of life.”
He said a trip round the school revealed that the students were being subjected to inhuman conditions in their hostels, which he said were over-populated and unkempt.
“The facilities in the hostels are inadequate, we see a lot of cramping of beds and we saw that it is not conducive.
“There is a hostel there that has been abandoned since the school was established. If the building is completed, it would go a long way to improve the hostel facilities.
“The feeding of the students should be improved upon, also some of the children could not take care of themselves because they are under-aged.
“So, the government should apply age restriction and we feel that the model schools in the state should be model in their outlook,” he said describing as worrisome a situation where the students have to keep their luggages outside the hostels due to congestion and over-population, defecate in the open, while some of them that are under-aged have special rooms because they bed-wet.
He also condemned the conversion of the school library to examination hall without an alternative location for library where he said the children could do researches.
“The school should have improvised a room for library because without a library, the students cannot research. The vision of the founders of model schools in Lagos state needs to be sustained and we need close and adequate monitoring of our model schools to ensure that we get it right.
“We will go back to let the executive know that we have an urgent and critical need in our model schools.
“We have asked the school authority about their security, the number of security men they have and advised them to ensure that they relate with the community to handle emergency situation,” he said.
Ogunyemi condemned the state of the road leading to the school describing it as terrible and urging the government to ensure that schools in the state should be accessible to the public.
Addressing the students, Ogunyemi said that the committee decided to pay an unscheduled visit to the school to see how they were faring.
“Though you cannot vote due to your ages, but some of your parents voted for us and we promised them that we would protect their interest. We came to see where you sleep and where you are learning and what you eat.
“By the grace of God, your situation would change. We want you to continue to be good children and keep good hygiene; nobody would take care of you better than yourselves,” he told the students informing them that some of the things that the committee members saw in the hostels were irritating.
“The odour around your hostel is bad. We have seen the condition under which you live and we could see that the facilities are overstretched. By the grace of God, the government would do something about it,” he said.
The Principal of the junior section of the school, Mr. Bolaji Oyesola, who led other staff to receive the committee members, said that a room has actually been converted to a library for the students and that the school management was trying to make do with the limited resources it has.
“We take care of their feeding very well and give them water. We make sure that the students are comfortable.
“We have been managing what we have since the school was established in 1988. The facilities were meant for below 200 students, but now we have over 1,000 students,” he said.
The committee later visited the Education District 3 of the state in Falomo, Ikoyi, Lagos. Headed by a Tutor General/Permanent Secretary, Mr. Olayinka Gbemi Olaniyi, the district controls some schools including the model college
Ogunyemi intimated the district management of the findings of the committee in the school and urged the district to ensure that it was conversant with the conditions of the schools within its jurisdiction with specific reference to the model college in Igbonla and its challenges.