Public primary education on verge of extinction in Abia State

(By Onyebuchi Ogbaegbe)

It is disheartening to note that these pupils have been denied quality education by the same government their parents stood under the sun and in the rain to vote into power. These pupils see Nigeria from the reflection and imagination of their school environment, a very unfriendly and hopeless society – a psyche that must be changed with dispatch by providing them with a good learning environment

AMAOBA Central School Oboro Ikwuano Abia State popularly known as “Group” was founded in 1949, their motto “Knowledge is power” currently depicts a shadow of its glorious past. Located in a sleepy village of Amaoba Oboro Ikwuano Local Council, Abia State, an agrarian settlement, about 20 minutes drive from Umuahia town, a co-host community to Michael Okpara University of Agriculture.

   In 1949 when the Methodist Church Nigeria in conjunction with the host community birthed the idea of bringing primary education to the door step of the rural community, their intention was to help eradicate illiteracy but that lofty vision has long been truncated by both Ikwuano Local Council and Abia State Government, a reflection of sheer negligence by our elected officials.

   It is disheartening to note that these pupils have been denied quality education by the same government their parents stood under the sun and in the rain to vote into power. These pupils see Nigeria from the reflection and imagination of their school environment, a very unfriendly and hopeless society – a psyche that must be changed with dispatch by providing them with a good learning environment.

   The community has done their bit by providing some benches and tables for the pupils from their meager income from subsistence farming which was not enough to cater for the entire need of the pupils.

   Conspicuously unavailable are basic teaching aids, good learning class rooms, library and good toilet facilities. Any first visitor to the school will be utterly bewildered at the level of decay, disrepair and dilapidation of educational facilities in this once noble citadel of learning.

   Sadly enough, some above average families have withdrawn their wards from the state owned primary school to some nearby private schools leaving the downtrodden with no choice than to be subjected to such an excruciating learning environment.

   The walls and floors of the school look miserable beyond description. The leaking roof of the school blocks is an eye sore, subjecting the pupils to learn under painful weather conditions. Pupils receive lectures on bare floors under the tutelage of ill-motivated teachers.

   How can we be blaming Abubarkar Shekau (Leader of Boko Haram) for claiming that Western Education is sin when the government of Ikwuano local council and Abia State government have openly shown these kids that quality education is not for them? What could be more ‘Boko Haramic’ than denying innocent pupils good basic education by the government of Abia State? It is incredibly melancholic to see the government mete out stiff brutality on helpless citizens by denying them their constitutional rights–basic education. The negative impact of an uneducated youth will be so severe than imagined if I may advise the state.

   If pupils are having this harsh experience at the primary school level, what should be the motivating factor to encourage them to aspire for higher education? It is not their fault that they were born in the village, neither is it their making that their parents couldn’t send them to private schools. However, it is their exclusive right as enshrined in the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria to have access to basic education as citizens by birth.

   Authorities of Ikwuano local council in whose jurisdiction this inhuman treatment is being perpetrated and Abia State government whose duty it is to supervise and ensure that basic education is extended to all and sundry should know that he who brings home ant-infested firewood should be prepared to play host to lizard.

   Amaoba Central School is not alone in this act of wickedness and man’s inhumanity to man with regards to compulsory basic education. Sometimes I wonder how our elected officials feel when they observe this level of degradation of human entity. The question is can’t the Abia State government have an education summit as it is done in other states to chat a way forward on Universal Basic Education to enable them meet the Millennium Development Goal by 2015?   There should be a deliberate action by both the local authority and state government to take stock of all primary and secondary schools in the state, know their peculiar needs and have a work plan to tackle them. It still beats my imagination how a Commissioner for Education could be sitting comfortably in his or her office while pupils learn under trees and make shift classrooms.

   The fight for insecurity in Abia State will be an effort in futility if pupils are not first given basic education where good morals will be imbued in them. Looking at the faces of the pupils in their pitiable dismal learning condition, smiling bitterly at the irony of a failed state, a clear expression of government’s brutality on their future, I weep for my nation, I weep for my state, Abia. If after collecting billions of naira from federal allocation, excess crude account and other internally generated revenues for over 15 years of uninterrupted democratic government and Abia State is still unable to provide basic primary education for her future leaders then I wonder the type of leaders they are preparing for the future.

   This is a clarion call to both the government of Abia State and Ikwuano local council to come to the aid of these helpless and hapless pupils with no one to speak for them, who have in spite of the psychological torture meted out to them by the government and the society have decided to keep fate to learn under leaking roofs. This invariably shows that if given a better learning environment, these innocent pupils will excel and become better and responsible citizens in the society. A stitch in time saves nine!

• Ogbaegbe is a public affairs analyst.

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