NIGERIA.NIGER STATE: At Gwadar Gwari Primary School in Shiroro’s local government area of Niger State, pupils of different classes – primary five and six, are merged into a dilapidated and overcrowded classroom to seek knowledge.
The school, which was established in 1976, houses five blocks of classrooms with a population of over 200 pupils and a staff of 10 class teachers. There are not enough desks and chairs for the students, just as there are no libraries and provisions for recreational and extracurricular activities.
Sanitary conditions at Gwadar Gwari are poor, exposing pupils to potential health issues. While the teachers have exclusive use of the school’s pit latrine, pupils engage in open defecation in the bush around the school premises.
Pupils of primary one and two are sandwiched into an overcrowded classroom, with no doors, ceilings or windows – a similar feature of other blocks of classrooms at the school.
Sani Barde, head teacher at Gwadar Gwari school, lamented the sordid state of facilities at the institution. “There are not enough classrooms to accommodate students or even chairs. In terms of teachers, we have enough of them. I think we don’t have a problem with that,” he said.
He also stated that in its 46 years of existence, the school has only been renovated in 2019. Then, the state government repaired the dilapidated roofs of two blocks of classrooms and plastered the walls.
Barde, who revealed that some of the classroom blocks in the school were built through community efforts, urged the state and local governments to come to the aid of the school by renovating the dilapidated structures as well as providing additional classrooms and other social amenities.
One of the teachers, Cecilia Adamu, decried the absence of first aid kits at the school, which she said would have helped to cater for emergencies. She urged the government to, as a matter of urgency, provide one for the school so that pupils’ health will be taken care of without seeking medical help outside.
Niger State Government’s whole school renovation approach scheme
In 2017, Niger state announced the commencement of a scheme tagged; “Niger state government Whole School Renovation Approach”, targeting the renovation and re-equipping of 200 elementary schools within the state with required manpower and infrastructural development for desired results.
According to Governor Abubakar Sani Bello‘s former Senior, Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Jide Orintunsin, the scheme has rehabilitated seven critical primary schools across the three geopolitical zones in the state.
Orintunsin added that, “The government had supplied 22,738 teachers’ and pupils’ chairs, tables and renovated blocks of classrooms, offices, stores and toilets in 88 primary and junior secondary schools in eight local government areas of Niger South Senatorial District.”
He also added,“82 similar schools had been built and rehabilitated in nine councils of Niger East Senatorial District; while 81 had been built and rehabilitated in Niger North Senatorial Zone.”
Niger State Universal Basic Education Board (NSUBEB) reacts
The Niger State Government said it has invested largely in basic education in the state through the Niger State Universal Basic Education Board (NSUBEB). Public Relations Officer of NSUBEB, Idris Kolo, said the current issues were a result of a long history of decay in the education sector from previous administrations.
Kolo said that the Aminu Tambuwal administration had made provisions to close the gaps and improve education in the state.
“I can assure you the state government, through NSUEB has injected hugely into the provision of basic needs in our basic schools since the beginning of this administration to date. Thus, the sizable gap in demand is caused by the long-time decay that this government inherited and it is doing everything possible to address it,” he said.