For Amikanle community, in Agbado Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos State, the lack of good education facilities that will enable the community to attain Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN is challenging.
The goal aims at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all.
To build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent and effective learning environments for all.
Good school buildings, one of the key components to attain the goal is yet to get the desired attention in the community.
The Amikanle Community Primary School lacks benefitting infrastructure for conducive learning.
The school has an old school building and an ongoing one storey building project.
At a town hall meeting facilitated by Involve Africa, an NGO, how to complete the ongoing school building project was discussed.
Mr Taiwo Michael Sunday, Project Coordinator for Involve Africa, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), that the abandoned school project started with a TETFUND aid, but abandoned since 2013.
“Coming together today is to chart a way forward with every stakeholder involved in this project, the state actors, community-based organisations, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), TETFUND, Local Government Chairman, Education Secretary and Lagos State Commissioner for Education.
“The project was approved in 2006, and work started in 2013 and the contractors left site late in 2013 and didn’t finish the work, that is why we have this current state of abandonment.
“We have gone far to put these stakeholders’ meeting together to have an interface between state actors and the community who are the ones to benefit from this project.
“We expect that SUBEB takes action and TETFUND brings back the contractors to site and the project completed before the end of this year.
“On completion, we expect to see an increase in the enrolment of children of Amikanle into this school,’’ he said.
A School Basic Management Committee Member, Amikanle Community Primary School, Akinbisola Akinyele, said non-completion of the building with pupils and teachers still attending classes in it, poses extreme health and security challenges.
“This school building has been abandoned and they are still using the building for classes.
“It is not conducive for learning because a pupil can jump from the first floor, which could lead to an accident; they are still small and they can’t control themselves unless people are there.
“Aside from that, people came six months ago to demolish the only toilet we have here and no structure has been put in place, so, the children are just going around messing up the place.
“There is no water; the borehole is not functioning, while the school’s fence was also demolished,
“We have written a series of letters to the Education Secretary of SUBEB and the local government, but there has not been any response.
“We have also written that we want to render assistance but no approval,’’ he added.
The traditional head (baale) of Amikanle, Chief Fatai Balogun, commended all the parties who have played roles in the school project but pleaded that the project should be completed.
“Concerning the school fence, we have visited the local government council to see the chairman for a solution.
“After the road construction, motorcycles started hitting pupils, injuring many of them.
“We went back to the council to request that they deploy people to control motorcycles and vehicles, to check the accidents, but nothing was done.
“We have also asked for day and night guards for the building but nothing was also done.’’
He called for urgent intervention to address the situation.
Another stakeholder, Mr Olajire Damilola, Involve Africa Team Leader for Agbado Oke-Odo, said that he had encountered many challenges trying to push for the completion of the school building.
He advised TETFUND, SUBEB and other parties involved in the project to amicably address the issues to ensure completion of the school complex.
“I am not a direct beneficiary because I don’t have a child coming here, but if this school is completed, many people will benefit from it. There will also be job opportunities for teachers and others.
“This school is at about 70 per cent completion and I advise they should just forget about their distinctive agencies’ differences and put finances together to complete it.
“We need a solution and fast approach to this. In all of these, we have not been able to get the contractor who is executing this project to provide his own information about the situation of things,’’ he said.
Damilola said that discussions were hinged on who would get credit for the building is completed.
“We met with SUBEB, but they said that even if they are to complete this school, in times to come, TETFUND may come in to say they are the one who started the project, our name must be there.
“And it is not possible to have SUBEB/TETFUND because they both have codes they put on every school.
“While TETFUND is not responding, SUBEB opened their doors for questioning, but they are not ready to take up the project.’’
He also restated the need to start and expedite work on the project because of the dangers posed to children and teachers.
“Look at the situation of this school, no toilet, no water, sometimes when I come here during the week, I see kids dropping faeces everywhere. It should be made conducive for them.
“There are about 600 pupils in this school; everywhere is dusty and it can present all kinds of ailments for the children and even the workers.
“These are tomorrow’s leaders, but they have to be alive to attain those heights. They need a conducive environment to get the quality education they deserve.
“It was during the construction of this road that they demolished the fence; now, hooligans come in to smoke everywhere and for the majority of them, this is where they sleep and bring in girls.
“Also, there was a case of attempted kidnapping of a small girl some time ago; it is a security breach and we are meant to protect our children.
“It is the responsibility of every government to be accountable to its people, they should provide security.
“Water is also lacking here. There is no water for them to drink, clean themselves, and observe hand washing hygiene. It is pathetic,’’ he said.
Mr Bayo Adegboyega, an Assistant Director, Project Department of SUBEB, said the TETFUND project awarded in 2013/2014 was stopped in 2016 when the fund discovered that it was using the money for tertiary education to fund primary school project.
He assured that measures would be put in place to address the situation.
Ayilara Abiodun, Secretary to the AgbadoOke-Odo LCDA, who represented the chairman, commended the efforts to find a solution to the abandoned school building.
She pledged the council’s commitment to ensure the completion of the project and urged all parties concerned to come together to resolve and assist in completing the Amikanle Community Primary School project.
These concerted efforts, according to her, will go a long way in ensuring inclusive and quality education needed to drive sustainable development.