PREMIUM TIMES visited schools that the state government claimed to have rehabilitated and found decrepit and inadequate facilities.
Governor Dapo Abiodun said last year that over 400 primary and secondary schools have been renovated in Ogun State under his administration.
However, when PREMIUM TIMES late in 2022 toured the three senatorial districts of the state, our reporter found facilities in many public schools still in deplorable conditions.
The renovation project was executed with a N10.2 billion fund jointly contributed, equally, by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the state government.
UBEC released its share of the fund to the state government in 2019 to address infrastructural decay and inadequate facilities in 236 public schools across the state.
PREMIUM TIMES found that in many schools captured under the rehabilitation project, the exercise has either not been completed or started at all. All the schools mentioned in this report are those the Abiodun administration listed as schools it has renovated.
The rehabilitated blocks of classrooms all had yellow roofs, the signature of the Dapo Abiodun administration.
Cracked walls, leaky roofs
At the St Joseph RCM Primary school in the Ayila area of Ogun Waterside Local Government Area, pupils were attending classes in uncompleted buildings with cracked walls and leaking roofs. Because chairs and desks were insufficient, some pupils sat on the bare floor.
One of the two buildings in the school looked like it could collapse anytime. “We cannot abandon it because we don’t have an alternative,” a teacher told PREMIUM TIMES.
The teacher said classes are suspended whenever it rains, because of the leaky roofs and low walls.
“When it rains, there is no class because all the pupils need to be moved to the two classes that are still manageable,” the teacher said.
Toye, one of the pupils, said he wants the government to repair and upgrade the school.
Gboko community in Ketu, Yewa North Local Government Area, has only one primary school. The mud-walled school has no teachers.
A block of three classrooms built as part of the UBEC project reportedly collapsed following heavy rainfall. It was after the incident that members of the community pooled resources together to build the mud-walled classrooms in 2021.
To accommodate all the pupils in the makeshift building, the junior classes were merged into a single class, while classes five and six shared another classroom.
The Chairman of the school’s Parents/ Teachers Association (PTA), Fakonbi Paul, said the school management wrote the government for another block of classrooms but there had been no response.
“The building was a UBEC project, it collapsed after heavy rain last year (2021). We wrote to the government but nothing was done. When we saw that nothing was forthcoming, the community decided to construct this mould blocks classroom with the assistance of our Kabiyesi (traditional ruler).”
“Goats, hens and dogs enter our classrooms because there are no doors or windows,” a Primary Four pupil told our reporter.
“Whenever we arrive every morning, we sweep the faeces of the animals in the classrooms. That is the instruction our teacher gave us,” the pupil added.
The situation is similar at Yewa North Local Government Primary School, Kakanfo. The few classrooms built have no windows or doors.
Abiodun Michael, a parent whose children attend the school, said pupils are usually sent home whenever it is about to rain because the classroom roofs are broken.
“The roofs have been broken for a long time and left like that,” Mr Micheal said.
District High School, Agosasa, also had classrooms with leaky roofs and cracked walls. These features seem to be shared by all public basic schools in the area.
Same situation in the capital Abeokuta
The state government listed Owu Baptist school, Ita-Iyalode in Oke-Shokori/Totoro ward, as one of the schools where classrooms were built or renovated. But our reporter found during a visit to the school that the project was abandoned.
The scaffold installed for the plastering of the wall still surrounded the building but some of the planks had decayed.
A worker in the school, who simply identified himself as Baba Jamiu, said the project had been abandoned for many months before the visit of the reporter.
However, he said the yet-to-be-completed classrooms, which were under lock and key during our reporter’s visit, were already being used.
“Leaving the scaffolding after plastering is dangerous. They don’t have any usefulness, but the contractor has refused to come and remove them.
Pupils are already using the classroom that way because we don’t have enough classrooms.
“The contractor was to plaster and paint the building, but they abandoned their work halfway, which is really bad,” he said.
The situation is not different at AUD Primary School, Ikatedo in Ago-Ika ward of Abeokuta North local council. A large building marked for rehabilitation but abandoned has become an abode for smokers around the area.
Residents said the renovation was started in 2019 but nothing new has been done to it in the last two years.
Around the school compound, the reporter found the roofs of many classrooms damaged. The structure of the buildings looks weak, while the environment generally seems not conducive to teaching and learning.
The government also claimed to have rehabilitated some classrooms at St. Peter’s College in the town. While the entire ceiling of one of the classrooms was replaced, work on those of other classrooms was not completed.
A block of four classrooms has a yellow roof, but the walls were not plastered and it has no windows. The building does not look like one where work was ongoing.
A worker who took this reporter around the school refused to give his name for fear of sanction by the authorities. He said the building has been completed despite not being plastered and not having windows.
Budgetary allocation to education sector
In December 2021, Governor Abiodun signed the N338.6 billion 2022 budget of the state and later adopted a 2022 Supplementary budget of N100.2 billion in August 2022.
In the initial budget, N56.07 billion was allocated to the education sector. N529.1 million out of that was for the maintenance of public schools; secondary education got N22.9 billion while primary education got N3.2 billion under the category of total expenditure by functional classification.
In 2022, the state’s total budget stood at N350.74 billion. Education had the second-highest estimate of N56,071 billion or 16 per cent of the total estimated budget. The lion’s share went to Infrastructure which gulped N77.8 billion, constituting 22 per cent of the total budget.
For the 2023 fiscal year, the governor voted N66.79 billion for education, representing 14 per cent of the total budget of N472 billion.
However, many residents still hope to see the impacts of these funds on the dilapidated schools in the state.
The Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Abayomi Arigbabu, did not respond to repeated calls and text messages to his phone for his comments on issues raised in this report.
But at a briefing in September 2022, Mr Arigbabu said infrastructural decay at schools predated the current administration when contacted, the spokesperson of UBEC, David Apeh, refused to respond to questions on the matter, especially on whether UBEC is monitoring the use of its funds by the Ogun government.
When first called over the phone on a Tuesday, Mr Apeh asked this reporter to call back on Wednesday.
When called according to his dictate, the spokesperson asked this reporter to call again after two hours but since then, he has refused to pick up calls nor respond to text messages.
An email sent to the official email address of UBEC was also not replied to.