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Bagusa: FCT community where pupils learn inside makeshift classrooms

At Bagusa, a community in Dei-Dei, under the Gwagwa ward of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), residents are…

At Bagusa, a community in Dei-Dei, under the Gwagwa ward of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), residents are mostly farmers, but they lack access to basic amenities, including good classrooms for pupils of the LEA Primary school in the area.

Daily Trust Saturday learnt that lack of access to a conducive learning environment for children of the community over the years has become a source of concern to parents in the area.

To ensure that their children acquire western education, parents in this community made efforts to provide makeshift wooden classrooms for pupils of the Local Education Authority (LEA) Primary School.

Over the years, the condition of the school did not attract the attention of the government until two weeks ago when a heavy windstorm blew off the entire makeshift classrooms, exposing the pupils to more danger, especially under the scorching sun.

A visit to the school by Daily Trust Saturday showed that while the pupils sit to learn, their teacher sits on a plastic chair.

A parent at the community, Ishaya Isaac, who spoke with our reporter, said the wooden classrooms were constructed over 18 years ago during the administration of Zephaniah Jisalo.

He said every successive administration of the Abuja Municipal Area Council had promised to build standard classrooms but to no avail.

He added that successive administrations of the area council had claimed that the reason they could not build standard classrooms was because the people of the community may be relocated by the FCT Administration.

“As you know, during the administration of the former minister of the FCT, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, there was tension and fear that Bagusa would be demolished. That was why the authorities of the AMAC then decided to build the classrooms with woods. Since then, nothing has happened, and children have been going to school like that,” he said.

pupils of lea primary school, bagusa in a class session after windstorm blew off their makeshift wooden classroom last week
pupils of lea primary school, bagusa in a class session after windstorm blew off their makeshift wooden classroom last week

He said several letters had been written to the authorities of AMAC on the need to build befitting classrooms for pupils of the community, but they had not yielded any positive response from various administrations.

Another resident of the community, who is a primary school teacher in one of the schools in AMAC, Josiah Bala, said lack of standard classrooms and a conducive learning environment have been affecting pupils in the community.

“I am a native of this community but I teach in one of the LEA primary schools under AMAC. I can’t imagine that since 2003, this community is yet to get standard classrooms for pupils to sit and learn,” he said.

He, however, said he was impressed that despite the condition of the school, its pupils had been performing excellently in both academic and sporting competitions.

“I can testify to that fact despite that I don’t teach in the school. I have two of my children in the school and I can tell you that they are doing well with their peer groups in academic and sporting activities. The only challenge is that the government has not built befitting classrooms for them,” he said.

Also, a teacher in the school who preferred anonymity told our reporter that the situation has always been a big challenge to teachers and the pupils, especially during the rainy season.

He said, “Whenever it rains, teachers sometimes hold on until the rain stops before they continue with lessons. This is because heavy rains sometimes distract the attention of both teachers and pupils since the classrooms were built with wood.

“On that day when the windstorm blew off the roof and the entire structures, it was God that saved both teachers and pupils as the incident happened in the evening, after the close of school. You can see the disadvantage of building a classroom with wood.”

He said that teachers became stranded and were forced to hang around the next day when they came to the school.

“In fact, some of us had to hang around because there was no place to even sit down for both teachers and pupils when we came to the school the following day. However, we still had to arrange the pupils on stones and bare floor to teach them,” he added.

The teacher, however, said that despite the unfriendly learning environment, pupils of the school always excelled in academic performance. He said the school had won several prizes in both academic and sporting competitions with other schools in the FCT.

According to him, the school has over 200 pupils.

He appealed to the authorities of the Abuja Municipal Area Council to liaise with the Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB) to come to the aid of the community and build befitting and standard classrooms to further enhance a conducive learning environment for both teachers and pupils.

The village head of Bagusa, Chief Zakka Iyah, also expressed concern over the state of the school, and appealed to the authorities of the area council to come to the aid of parents by building good classrooms for pupils and their teachers.

“Although successive administrations did not build befitting classrooms, I am confident that the current chairman of AMAC, Christopher Zakka Maikalangu, will intervene.

“I believe that by the time the AMAC chairman intervenes, our children would be grateful to him because he would have done what other past chairmen could not do for us. We pray that God would guide and keep him,” he said.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Abuja Municipal Area Council, said the council had commenced the construction of classrooms in the school, saying he embarked on an assessment of the facility.

Maikalangu, who spoke through his chief of staff, Emeka Orji, said that after receiving information about the condition of the school, the council immediately directed a team of construction engineers and members of staff of the Department of Works to access the situation.

He said the LEA Primary School project was long overdue, adding that the construction would be in phases.

He, however, noted that building of primary schools was not under the purview of the area council but the Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB) in the FCT.

“Despite that it is not the responsibility of the area council to build schools, we would still have to intervene to rebuild the structure that was blown off by windstorm to enable the pupils to commence their examination. The main construction of classrooms would commence too,” he said.

He assured that his administration would continue to pay attention to education and other programmes that would make life more meaningful to residents of AMAC.

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