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Anambra schools decry challenges as govt assures intervention

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Dilapidated classroom floor in Iyiagu Primary School, Awka

On assumption of office, the Governor of Anambra State, Prof Chukwuma  Soludo placed  huge priority on education. The just concluded Anambra teachers recruitment exercise is hailed for injecting highly qualified and competent teachers into the academic system of the state. Our  reporter,  NKIRUKA EZEDINUGWU  visited some schools and education authorities  to assess the challenges of they face as well as efforts being made by government and school authorities to address them to make the school environment more conducive for both teachers and pupils. She writes:  

DESPITE government’s  efforts to create enabling learning environment,  some schools in Anambra State still have a lot of challenges. Most of them are peculiar like the dilapidated structures, security challenges, issues of running cost, lack of relevant teachers, laboratory equipments, computers,  among others. 

A building yet to be completed in Capital City Secondary School, Awka

  Speaking on  the state of Anambra schools, the principal of Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka, Mr Jovita Arazu, maintained that schools are facing a lot of challenges. He said: “The last time we had an intervention was during the regime of  Mr. Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State which ended in 2014. Since then, there has not been any major renovation in schools, so most of the structures are already dilapidated. Also, the school vehicles are broken down. These vehicles were also given to schools during the time of same Mr Peter Obi, and most of them are already broken down. They have engine problems and various problems that are beyond the scope of the school.

  Again, most schools are not fenced, so this gives way for trespassers and  even students, most times, come in and go out any time from those places. Another problem is the running cost, schools do not have enough money to run their affairs, so government should do something about that, and help schools to sit up for principals to stop being beggars in the communities. For long, many principals have been moving around begging for money to run the schools.

  “In addition, many of our computers, as a result of constant usage, are broken down and the schools cannot repair them. So these computers need to be taken back and repaired by the present administration.

  Talking about the challenge of lack of  teachers, he said:   We are aware the government has done recruitment for  teachers and we are awaiting the outcome. Although that will not be enough, but at least, it is good for a start while we await another recruitment later.

  “Yes, most subjects like government, Igbo, Maths, etc, we lack teachers. So what we do is those similar subjects that a teacher can teach also, we extend it to that person to teach to ensure that students are covered in those subjects. We lack teachers in most of the subjects and the ones we have are not enough. For instance, I have two Igbo teachers, one for all the SS students and the other for all JSS. The population is too much. Imagine just one person teaching about 500 students; it is quite too much.

  Also speaking on the many challenges schools are currently facing, Principal, Capital City Secondary, School, Awka,  Mrs. Adibe Adaora, said, “this school is a highly populated school. We have so many students sent to us. But we don’t have enough classrooms to accommodate them. There is a building, a five classroom block in the school that has been at the lintel level for the past seven years. We are asking, soliciting the government to come and raise the structure so they will have more classrooms. But for now, our effort has not yielded any positive result. So, the greatest challenge we have is  classroom accommodation. And apart from that, we lack teacher. The school has about 1600 plus students but we have only 31 government teachers. So you can see that the school  lacks teachers. These are the major challenges, classroom space and teaching staff. 

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  “We lack teachers in many subjects. We have only one Religious, English, agric, commerce paid teachers here and only two government paid mathematics and English teachers for the entire school. So it is that bad. I cant keep mentioning subjects. We do not have any government, commerce teacher. We manage it with a few PTA teachers. Then we have few corp members that help out too. But then, you know that these corp members are transient. They are not always here and the quality of their teaching is questionable. So we just try to manage with the few people we have here, the auxiliary staff which are not even  enough.

  “Yes, we do Computer Science in JSS, and we have about 1000 plus students in JSS  here but there is only one computer science teacher. But then, one of our philanthropists, Mr Clem Nwogbo of the Awka Millennium City Development Company Limited, also employed some teachers for us. He employed two computer teachers.  He also employed teachers in other subject areas. Those are the ones that have been helping us fill up the gap.

 “Yes, the government gave us some computers, laptops, also Mr Clem Nwogbo opened an e-library for us and it has been very functional and stocked it with computers and a router with which we can source internet facilities.

 “So, we need over 20 teachers to fill the gap because the school is highly populated. If you really want to give the students quality teaching then, the teachers should not be over laboured. For instance, in English language, we need nothing less than nine teachers in English language but we have two now, and  in mathematics we need nine but we have two. In Igbo language, we need seven teachers but we only have four. So you can see that the school actually lacks teachers”.

  Then Obiora Delight, a JSS2 student of Capital City Secondary School, Awka, said “one of the major problems we are facing as students is that  most of the classes are overcrowded. We do not get enough ventilation in our classes and most times when the teachers are teaching, we find it difficult to hear them.  Again, we do not have adequate learning facilities like computers and other learning gadgets.      The ones that we used to have are spoilt and not in good condition.  Even the toilets we have is not enough for the population of the students that we have here.  The teachers are not also enough because the number of teachers that we have here does not match the population of students we have here. So we need more teachers.

  Another student, …we do not have adequate playing ground, like we do not have enough space in this school compound. Then, again, we do not have enough white boards for learning. In some classes here, there are no standard white boards.

  Again, Ezekiel Chinasaokwu Chinecherem from SS3 in the same school, said “we do not have enough security in this school like some of  our classes lack good doors and with that our books and our other learning materials are exposed to theft. Then on the part of teachers, some of them do not attend classes as they are supposed to and because of this, we do not always cover our scheme of works.

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  On her own part, the  Assistant Headmistress of Iyiagu Primary School, Awka, Mrs Omenkwu Abigail  said, “actually, there are a lot of challenges this  school is facing currently. Among these challenges is the problem of teachers’ tables and chairs. When a teacher comes to school, it is expected that he or she must see at least one table and sit to go with it to settle down and deliver his or her lessons properly.

  “Again, this school is lacking computers, we do not have any computer in this school, and as you know  it is best to start early to give these children basic knowledge of computer because the world is going digital. But before we start to talk about computers, we should talk about electricity. This is because this school does not have any form of electricity and computers cannot function without light.

  “There is also no source of water supply in this school. The children always  go out of the school premises to fetch water and you know we need water to keep hygiene.

“We are also facing the challenges of dilapidated floors and classrooms. Most times, these children fall down in their classrooms and they sustain serious injuries because of the dilapidated floors.

  “Again, we lack teaching aids in this school. We all know that Montessori system of education states it categorically that a child must see, touch and feel to make learning complete. Teaching aids also lessen the burden of teaching on the teacher.

  “We are also lacking games equipments both for the primary and the nursery section. Games equipments  like slides, swings, merry go round and others tend to make learning more fun.

“Lastly, we need more teachers because the school is growing by the day. Presently, we have a rough estimate of 250 pupils and more are still coming and we only have  seven government paid teachers and one PTA teacher to take care of these number of children.

  “So we are looking up to the government to come to our aid and mediate in these problems so that teaching and learning will be smoother and more fun. Headmistress of Ezi-Awka Primary School, Awka, Mrs Okafor Esther Ngozi,  said  that number one in the list of their  problems is teachers because they have 410 pupils currently and more children are still coming to register and they  just have 11 government and four PTA teachers to take care of the children. “So, if the government can give us may be six extra teachers, teaching and learning will be a lot easier here.

  “Again, we need computers in this school. During Peter Obi’s regime, many schools received computers but we were not lucky to get any. So we are  pleading with the government to bring computers to this room and also provide a strong room to safeguard those computers.

  “Number three in the list of our problems is the issue of security. The fence in this school is falling in batches. We are looking up to the government to intervene in this issue because the school is no longer secured because these areas where the fence has fallen have created many entrances into the school compound. If the government can re-build our fence so that the school will have one entrance and then give us a security man who will be keeping watch over the compound even at night, we will be happy.

  Reacting on the issues raised,  Chairman, Post Primary Schools Service Commission (PPPSSC), Prof Nkechi Ikediugwu  said : “I want to start by  thanking Professor Charles Soludo, the executive governor of Anambra State because he has taken the bull by the horn. During the transition committee, which I was a member, he told us that the first thing he would do is to employ teachers and as soon as he entered, he began the process and he made every effort to ensure that those who are coming in are qualified, competent. That is why they had to undergo so many exams, written and  oral.  So far so good, we have to say thank you to him because a lot of teachers would be injected into the school system very soon. So we have to thank him very much.

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  5000 teachers will be injected into the schools. It is so much; we have never had it this good before. No state in Nigeria can boast of this. We have a lot of teachers already in the system and most of them are retiring and these newly recruited 5000 teachers will sure go a long way to replace those who are retiring. I am very optimistic that this 5000 will go a long way to augment the retired ones.

 “We took all the vital subjects into consideration; all these vital subjects such as entrepreneurship subjects, science subjects and I am certain that these 5000 teachers  will cover up for all the subjects.

  “Yes, it is the duty of the government to solve these problems of infrastructure, security and many others in schools. So, Mr Soludo, has already promised us that schools will have facilities, good infrastructures, security and all that. The decayed buildings will be rebuilt. So we have a lot of hope. You know, he is just six months in office, yet you look at what he is already doing. So we have to say thank you to him. We have to appreciate it. Now, On the just celebrated Teacher’s Day, the governor promised the teachers that he would extend their service year to 65 years of age and 40 years of service and ordered that these should be passed into law immediately.

Also speaking, Charman,  Anambra State Universal Basic Education board (ASUBEB), Dr Vera Nwadinobi, said:  “Yes,  I believe that these newly recruited teachers when injected into schools will go a long way to ease the burden of shortage of teachers in schools, because  before now, there is shortage of teachers and many are retiring. The governor has a very big plan for our education sector but his problem is funding. It is not enough to post people to schools and then not pay them. So the governor is taking his time; he has chosen to send out these 5000. So, if there are more funds, another recruitment will take place. I believe our governor is a teacher, so he loves education more than anything. We are keeping our fingers crossed, so whenever there are more funds, he will do something, but this 500 newly recruited teachers will sure go a long way.

  “In this teachers recruitment, all subjects were put into consideration, but before they will be sent to different schools, I believe that schools will bring information on the number of teachers and the subjects they lack teachers.  The ministry and the Education Board cannot work in a vacuum or without information. So I strongly believe that this 5000 recruited teachers will go a long way in solving the problem of shortage of teachers in schools.

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