About two months ago, Akwa Ibom State people at home and abroad were scandalised by disturbing images in the media of pupils of Government Primary School, Aka 1, in the heart of Uyo metropolis, sitting and taking their lessons on bare and dusty floor.
Then the state government suddenly woke from its slumber and rushed to the school and began to equip it and other public primary and secondary schools with some basic needs of the pupils.
But just as the seats were trickling in, the laboratories either for science or computer education remained empty, while most public schools in the state, including the now popular Government Primary School, Aka 1, have neither toilets nor water facilities.
This has exposed both pupils and teachers to the risk of imminent epidemics like cholera and dysentery as they defecate indiscriminately in the school premises and abandoned classrooms.
When journalists visited some public primary and and secondary schools in Uyo and its environs on Thursday to assess the infrastructural situation, it was discovered That to some schools do not have functional conveniences (toilets) and borehole to supply water to ensure standard hygiene.
The Government Primary School, Aka 1, which is at Obio Imo Street, Uyo, the state capital, and with a population of about 400 pupils and 16 teachers; Awed Three Towns Primary School, Ikot Offiong Ikono still in Uyo LGA, and the Asutan Ekpe Comprehensive Secondary School, Okop Ndua Erong in Ibesikpo Asutan local government area fall into this category of schools without water and toilets.
Ironically, Autan Ekpe Comprehensive Secondary School is a relatively new school built to replace the one taken over by the Air Force Comprehensive Secondary School, Okop Ndua Erong..
The situation in the school known by the acronym: ASUTECOM is such that the principal, Mrs Victoria Ekpo, recently lamented to the old students of the school, who visited in April this year, that the school is in urgent need “of computers for the laboratory as the school has none even as it is preparing over 217 students in SS3 for their final examinations, which include computer-based tests; provision of current books for the library; staircase railings to address the problem of frequent students and teachers falling on the staircase; provision of borehole to check water scarcity for both drinking and convenience, parameter fencing to boost the security of students on campus; tables and chairs for teachers among others.”
To make matters worse for the school, apart from the empty labs, there is also no functional power generating set to power the computers if there were to be any.
The old students led by their president, Mr Edet Ndua, said that the visit was to afford them an opportunity to have an on-the-spot assessment of facilities and where they could intervene by providing assistance based on needs.
Meanwhile, the school management and pupils of Government Primary School , Aka 1, have lauded the state government for the timely intervention in providing dual-desks to pupils who previously were sitting on the floor for many years.
Speaking to the visiting journalists, the headmistress of the school, Mrs Imaobong Uboh, said pupils were sitting on the floor before the state government brought some dual-desks to the school.
Uboh, who expressed happiness over the government gesture, said two persons from the United States also sent in 20 and 25 desks respectively, to support the state government in her drive to address infrastructure deficit in public schools.
The head teacher explained that teachers also assisted the state government by using improvised teaching aids for learning.
She said: “We have seen the change, the school wasn’t like this when I came; all the pupils were sitting on bare floor. But through your (press) efforts and others, God has changed our story, we commend the government for quick intervention.
“It was an eyesore, because throughout my life as a student, I have never experienced sitting on the floor to learn. So, when our commissioner for education came to the school, she wept, knowing that she is a mother. She immediately informed the governor and that same week, we were provided with dual pupils seat.”
She said a media report on vandalism of school infrastructure got to some concerned individuals in the United States, who sent in desks to support the government.
She disclosed that materials such as books, pencils, pens and school bags were also sent by these individuals to the pupils.
“Others have also visited us. Some of our citizens who are based in USA, visited the school and blessed us with 20 dual desks to assist the pupils. Also, another young man, who visited along with a lady, also based in the USA offered us 25 dual desks alongside stationery like books, pencils, biros and school bags, to share to the pupils, and they were very happy,” she said.
Uboh said the gestures from international donors showed that the children do not belong to the parents and government alone and requested others to assist the government in education development.
The school administrator also commended the inter ministerial direct labour of government for roofing two classroom blocks in the school and commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for the efforts at addressing the dearth of infrastructure in the public schools.
Reacting to the poor sanitation situation in the schools, the state commissioner for education, Mrs Idongesit Etiebet, said everything is done in phases. She said that the water and sanitation situation in public schools would soon be addressed.
“We have monitors going round. I was a monitor before, so we are monitoring. You know Governor Emmanuel is doing very well in the education sector. We are number one in counterpart funding. So, with time we will do what has not yet been done,” the commissioner said.
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