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8yr-old Nasarawa Gov’t School that never had a classroom

Government Junior Secondary School, Owaza, in Alwaza, Nasarawa State was established eight years ago but has never had a single classroom in its name. It…

Government Junior Secondary School, Owaza, in Alwaza, Nasarawa State was established eight years ago but has never had a single classroom in its name. It had relied on a nearby primary school for classes but after that school was burnt down in a crisis, the students and staff of the secondary school have continued to endure tough conditions, as Daily Trust reports.

 

Doma, located 26 kilometres away from Lafia, the Nasarawa State Capital, is described as the food basket of the state.

It is home to one of the biggest rice-producing companies in Nigeria, the 14,000-hectare Olam Rice Farm and the largest producer of almost every crop in the state—sesame, yam, maize, cassava, groundnut, millet and melon.

Every Wednesday it becomes a beehive as thousands of people from other local governments troop into town for the weekly market day.

Some of these people come from Alwaza, some 3 kilometres away through the dreadful, dusty and muddy road that veers off the Doma-Agyaragu Road.

What is remarkable about Alwaza is that it is home of Government Junior Secondary School, Owaza, established during the 2011/2012 academic session. Eight years on, it has numerous students, but no classroom.

The land allocated to the school, situated besides Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) Primary School Alwaza, has remained virgin. Not a digger has cracked the earth to lay a foundation for the school.

The secondary school had relied on the facilities of the primary school but in 2014, Alwaza was hit by the civil violence that led to killings and destruction of property. The village was razed down completely, including the primary school (established in 1976), health centres and places of worship.

With the entire school burnt down, the place remained deserted, until last year when the state government rehabilitated two of the six classrooms. But even those two classes are already dilapidated as rainstorm has ripped the roof apart.

This means that the secondary school has not had a single classroom to borrow since the violence. In the shadow of the ruins, the principal could be found sitting on a desk in the open, which serves as his office, while the teachers could be found under the shade of two trees they have nicknamed “staffroom.”

Palm fronds have been used to shed parts of the burnt down facilities to serve as classrooms where students receive lessons. These makeshift tents are useless in the rains as they offer no protection from the weather.

The number of student has dwindled over the years. Those who have stayed, are desperate to leave.

“Whenever it rains, we all run to mingle with the primary pupils in their classrooms with our seats, which we borrow from them,” a JSS3 student said. “I will be happy to leave this school for a better one.”

Every year, the school produces students who continue their senior secondary education in other schools but the absence of classrooms is now a serious headache.

“If we have good classrooms and other facilities here, a lot of students, even from neighbouring villages like Agyeshematu, Angwa’ahuta, and other places will be encouraged to come,” one of the teachers said. “This place is very close to Doma town, a trekking distance. But look at this place! Nobody will want to send his child to learn under this condition.”

Inside what serves as the JS 1 class, weeds overrun the floor while a small group of students clustered in front of a chalkboard.

The state of both the primary and secondary schools worries the community.

The village head, Mr Alex Yohana, said that the condition of the schools (both the primary and the secondary) gives them sleepless night as they are thinking of how to save them because they are important to the overall development of the area.

“If not for the lack of classrooms and the 2014 crisis, the school would have grown to senior secondary school. Many parents are now sending their children to other places because there are no learning facilities here,” he said.

The younger generation is working to save the school but mobilizing resources has been a major challenge.

Mr Ayaka Tailer is the youth leader in Alwaza. He told our correspondent that they are working on getting every youth in the area to contribute N1000 to enable them intervene in the deplorable condition of the school but as at the time of this report, nothing significant has been raised.

The youths’ effort to help through community service is currently thwarted by a crisis over leadership positions in the village, which has polarized the community.

Mr Ayuba Anjugu who is a 1982 graduate of the primary school laments the state of affairs in the school and the community.

“It is our responsibility not to allow this school to die,” Mr Yonny Ombugu Kudu said adding that, “I feel pain whenever I pass through that place. I wish I had the money to build up that place. The things that develop a community are good schools, roads, water and health facility. We have water, a health centre but the road and schools are in bad condition.”

“If the Governor, Engr Abdullahi Sule can fix the school and the short road for us, history will write his name in gold,” Mr Ombugu continued.

Efforts to speak to officials at the Nasarawa State Universal Basic Education Board in Lafia were not successful as a source told Daily Trust that only the chairman of the board can speak on the matter.

With limited options, the village head appealed to the governor for help.

“We are on our knees begging the Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Sule Abdullahi to please come to our aid,” Mr. Yohana said.  “Secondly, if you look at the tarred road that passes from Doma to Agyaragu it is just about 3 kilometres from this village and passing that road from here is hell during the rainy season.

“Lastly, the Deputy Governor, Dr Emmanuel Akabe is from this local government area and we believe, he will not sleep over our problems,” he said.

Until something is done, the children of this village will have to endure the harsh conditions of their classless school until they can no longer bear it.

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