Students of Salihu Dogo Government Secondary School in Taraba State recently staged a protest over the lack of furniture, laboratory equipment and learning materials.
According to the students, the protest was triggered after the school authorities appointed prefects for the laboratory and kitchen, though there is no laboratory equipment and no food is cooked in the school kitchen.
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Some of the students who spoke to Daily Trust under anonymity said it was wrong for the school authorities to appoint laboratory and kitchen prefects when there is no laboratory equipment and food is not being cooked in the school kitchen.
The students also stated that in some classrooms, there are no chairs and desks and they sit on the floor to receive lessons.
“We staged the peaceful protest to let people know that basic learning materials are absent in the school,” one student said.
Another student lamented that the roofs of many classrooms were leaking and that affects learning negatively.
“Our school is located on a major street in the state capital and not far away from the state secretariat and headquarters of the State Universal Basic Education Board yet basic learning materials are lacking,” another student lamented.
He said the government was not showing concern for public schools because none of their children or wards was in such schools.
“We are the children of common men in society; our parents cannot afford to send us to private schools outside the state as top government officials and top politicians do,” the students said.
However, contrary to reports, the students told Daily Trust that no student in the school was expelled following the protest.
One of the students said a few days after the incident, they were assembled and advised against staging protests or demonstrations in the school.
The students also called on the Taraba State Government to provide basic learning materials in the school to assist in proper learning.
Meanwhile, when our reporter visited the school, located across the Mayogwoi Bridge in the state capital, it was noticed that it has a high population of students.
It was also confirmed that the ceiling boards were bad as such the roofs of some classes were leaking, while there was also no adequate furniture in some of the classrooms and some of the classrooms have cracks and holes in their floors.
When contacted, the State Commissioner of Basic Education, Mr Jigem Johannes, denied a media report that some students of the school were expelled over the protest they staged last week.
He told Daily Trust in Jalingo that it was not easy to expel students without the involvement of the Parents Teachers Association, religious leaders and parents of the affected students.
The commissioner stated, however, that he has set up a committee to find out the root cause of the demonstration and that it is not true that the school lacked basic infrastructure and laboratory equipment.
Mr Johannes stated that the state government has provided basic infrastructure in most of the schools, including Salihu Dogo Secondary School.
According to him, the government could not be hundred per cent perfect, stressing that it has done its best in the education sector.
He alleged that the students were instigated by some politicians to stage the protest.
“I don’t know why some people, including a section of the media, tend to look only at the negative aspect of the government. Do you know that before the coming of this administration the state only recorded 18 per cent success in NECO and WAEC examinations but now the state is recording 85 per cent in the two examinations?” he asked.
On the absence of laboratory equipment as alleged by the students during their protest, the commissioner said that, too, was not true, adding that there was an arrangement where students are allowed to go to schools with labs to conduct learning in such laboratories.
“We have science and technical schools in each of the three senatorial zones and the schools have well-equipped laboratories. In Jalingo we have such a school and the students are performing very well and many products of such schools have gained admission into universities to read medicine and engineering,” he said.