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Poor facilities, overpopulation hinder learning in Minna public schools

Effective teaching and learning have been challenged by the deteriorating facilities and growing population of pupils in public primary schools in Minna metropolis. Investigations by…

Effective teaching and learning have been challenged by the deteriorating facilities and growing population of pupils in public primary schools in Minna metropolis.

Investigations by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that while the population of pupils has significantly increased in recent time due to the Home-Grown School Feeding, the existing facilities are inadequate to facilitate teaching and learning in most primary schools in Minna, the Niger State capital.

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Daily Trust on Sunday found that the enrolment figure of pupils in Niger State schools increased from 600,000 to 800,000 representing 35 per cent across the 2,636 public primary schools in the state since the inception of the School Feeding programme.

Notwithstanding, the dilapidated classrooms and lack of teachers’ and pupils’ furniture, lack of instructional materials such as text books and writing materials, especially chalk, have continued to ruin the effort of teachers in the discharge of their duty.

Investigations by Daily Trust on Sunday however, revealed that despite the poor salary of teachers in the state, some of them had taken it upon themselves to buy instructional materials especially text books to help them teach effectively while some teachers borrow books from colleagues to use during their classes.

Chiamaka Ifeanyi is an English Language teacher in Maitumbi Primary School, who used her money to buy textbooks to teach the 86 pupils in the class she manages.

“I teach Primary 6 pupils and the school gave me one text book to use. But when I come to class, I don’t enjoy teaching when pupils have no copies. So, I bought my copies which I normally give them during my class; after which I collect them back. None of the students, out of 86 pupils in Primary 6, has an English Language text book. I bought the books from my salary to facilitate teaching and learning. I did that because I had no choice and I want these pupils to learn and understand. It is done out of passion. I do lend them to my colleagues who teach English. Without our personal effort, teaching and learning wouldn’t have been possible,” she said.

Maitumbi Primary School is one of the highly populated public primary schools in Minna city. The Head Teacher, Bala Salau, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the school with 3, 761 pupils has 30 classrooms out of which 10 were not in use. The school also had less than 100 teaching staff.

It was gathered that male and female teachers share a single toilet in the head teacher’s office while pupils urinate and defecate in any corner they find convenient. Daily Trust correspondent, who went round the school facility, also reported that two blocks of 4 classrooms had recently collapsed due to heavy rain, while the rest being used either had cracked or leaking.

The head teacher told our correspondent that effective classroom management was difficult for teachers due to over population and lack of furniture for proper arrangement of pupils.

“Most of our pupils sit on the floor. Books are inadequate; the schools use PTA fees to buy registers and diaries. Recently, we bought 69 registers and 69 diaries at the cost of N300 each using PTA fees. The school runs morning and afternoon shifts due to population and inadequate classrooms. We also buy chalk from PTA fees. And a bag of chalk costs N5, 000 and we use 5 bags each term. So, we run the school through PTA. Each of the classes has a population of 100 pupils. So, teachers are committed but most of the time managing this population in one class is always very tasking. In fact, when N-power beneficiaries were posted to my school, some of them, the first week they assumed duty, started complaining about the overpopulation of pupils,” he said.

The pillars and steps of a storey building of 10 classrooms built in Maitumbi Primary School by the Niger State Universal Basic Education Board under the 2017 intervention fund at the cost of N55, 023, 424 million had cracked due to poor contract execution.

The story in Dr. Yahaya Bawa Bosso Primary School, Bosso, a school with a population of 2, 494 pupils and 28 classrooms is the same. Our correspondent found that there are more than 50 pupils in each of the classes while pupils in Primary 1 to 3 sit on the floor due to lack of furniture.

While schools suffer from inadequate teachers, many teachers had reportedly applied to leave the teaching profession due to lack of motivation and poor working conditions. Until the government-imposed embargo on application for transfer of service, no fewer than 10 teachers had recently applied to leave Waziri Primary school.

Multiple sources told Daily Trust on Sunday that the school which was established in 1930 currently has a total population of 1, 156 and has not undergone serious renovations over the years, as they expressed concern over the poor state of facilities in the state.

“You cannot sit in any of our classrooms or offices, including the head teacher’s office, if it is raining. Every classroom or office leaks and we also have termites here. We have lost many record books due to termites eating up the files. And we don’t have any source of generating money; we do most of the things from the little money parents pay as PTA levy. Unfortunately, most parents don’t even want to pay. The school has no fence, exposing the pupils and staff to security risk,” one of the staff said.

The Niger State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Akayago Adamu Mohammed, during the recent World Teachers’ Day celebration, said that while a good number of teachers in primary and post primary schools in the state were leaving the profession due to poor working condition, inadequate instructional materials was also a major challenge hindering the teaching and learning in public schools.

“Teaching and learning would be more effective when appropriate instructional materials are provided during the learning process. Government should procure adequate and regular instructional materials to our schools with the view to achieving the desired educational objectives.”

Between 2016 and 2018, Niger State Universal Basic Education Board spent over N12 billion on construction and renovation of classrooms as well as provisions of pupils and teachers’ furniture.

Reacting to the findings by Daily Trust on Sunday, the Public Relations Officer of the Niger State Universal Basic Education Board, Idris Kolo, said “the infrastructural deficit experienced in primary schools in the state is as a result of long-time decay which just like other successive governments, the Niger State Government through Niger SUBEB is doing everything possible to address.

“So far, since the inception of this administration from 2015 to date, the Board has been able to construct over 2,523 classrooms; 22 schools benefited from the whole school renovation approach; 960 four compartment VIP toilets have been constructed; 15 schools have enjoyed parameter fencing; 70 boreholes have been drilled; 3 Integrated Quranic Education Centers have been renovated, 11 libraries have been renovated; 18 ICT Centers have been equipped; supply of 10,243 Early child Care Education Development furniture, 69,320 primary 3 seater furniture, and 18,679 teachers furniture have been supplied,” he said.

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