By Dipo Awojobi – The Chairman of the Committee on Education in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Olanrewaju Ogunyemi has condemned in strong terms the state of infrastructure in the state’s model colleges.
He then advised the state government to urgently address the issues in the colleges to sustain the visions of their founders and restore the lost glory of the schools.
Ogunyemi, who led other members of the committee to Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe on Wednesday lamented in an interview with journalists that the school has been cut off from the society, and that the facilities in the hostels and the school generally have been overstretched.
“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.
According to him, a trip round the school revealed that the students were being subjected to inhuman condition 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.
Ogunyemi described 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 bedwet.
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 securitymen they have and advised them to ensure that they relate with the community to handle emergency situation,” he said.
He also condemned the state of the road leading to the school, stressing that it is terrible and that the schools in the state should be accessible to the public.
Addressing the students in the dinning hall, 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 stated.
He told the students that some of the things that the committee members saw in the hostels were irritating, adding that some of the students were defecating in the open spaces.
“The odour around your hostel was 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 and we are happy to be here,” 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.
Oyesola added that the school management is trying to make do with what they have within their limited resources.
“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 that is controlling the college, where they met with the Tutor General/Permanent Secretary of the District, Mr. Olayinka Gbemi Olaniyi and other top management staff of the district.
Ogunyemi intimated them of the findings of the committee in the school and urged the district to ensure that they are conversant with the condition of the schools within their jurisdiction with a specific reference to the model college in Igbonla and its challenges.