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A tale of Kwara public school where pupils learn under the tree without chalkboards



“You cannot make people learn. You can only provide the right conditions for learning to happen.”
– Vince Gowmon

But what happens if education is provided under an environment that is not conducive to learning at all?
This is the situation at Gaa Alaanu Nomadic LGEA Primary School, a public school situated in a Fulani dominated community of Malete, Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State.

One sunny afternoon on a weekday, a young girl, Yusuf Taiye of about 12 years old who identified herself as a Primary five pupil was sighted drying yam peelings in front of her house in the community. This reporter asked her why she was not in school, since it was during school hours, and her narrative suggested that the condition of her school was not encouraging, and that her parents asked her to stay back.

The school was established by the Department of Education, Kwara State University, Malete some years ago in furtherance of its Community Service Programme and as a away of giving back to the host community.

Along the line, it was taken over by the State Universal Primary Education Board (SUBEB), hence making it a public school since 2018.

The school often serves as a training ground for students from the Department of Education of Kwara State University during their Teaching Practice stints.

Head Mistress of the school, Hajiya Aishat Balogun Segilola who was accosted by this reporter highlighted some of the major challenges facing the school.

The shade used as classroom before it collapsed

She noted, “For about four years, I was the only teacher in this school, teaching over 50 pupils until last year when two teachers were deployed to this school as a result of the last Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) employment, taking our number to three. I did come from Ilorin every day until I decided to move permanently to Malete because it was no longer easy for me – considering the stress and and financial burden.

The collapsed shade

“We used shade as our classroom, but it was destroyed by breeze sometime ago and that is why we brought our classroom under the tree. We face a lot of challenges here as you can see, we teach under poor academic environment. We, the teachers too are not left out, most especially during Harmattan period. My other two colleagues are currently sick as a result of excessive cold because the breeze blowing from the tree is unbearable – in fact one of them even called me that her baby was receiving treatment. I do go through a lot in the midnight because of excessive cold leading to severe cough. That was the reason we moved the classroom from under the tree to under the sun to receive some heat.

“This environment is very harsh, I always force the pupils to wear sweaters, even at that some parents still scold us for wanting to protect their children against this harsh weather.

“During Dry Season too, we experience the worst. Scorching sun also deals with us because there is no classroom to shelter us. Come rain, come shine we are under the tree.

“Sometime last year a non-governmental organization, OneAfricanChild built a block of two classrooms for the school. It has yet to be completed but parents of the pupils promised to complete it by fixing the windows, filling the floor and plastering it, but unfortunately, nothing has been done till date. As teachers we don’t have our own office, we stay under the tree as well.

READ ALSO:SPECIAL REPORT: Indiscriminate waste dumps, open defecation pose threat of epidemic in Kwara as govt slow to act

“As you can see, the pupils want to move into the classrooms as soon as possible but it is not ready and they can’t be sitting on bare ground. Even the parents are not helping matters as they don’t contribute anything to the growth of the school. We don’t even have a chalkboard and other teaching aids or learning materials.

The pupils under the tree with the incomplete classroom behind them

About two years ago, I reported our ordeal to the Education Secretary at Bode Saadu that we don’t have classrooms but the villagers without listening to my own side of the story nearly beat me, accusing me that I went to report to the education authority that there was no school on ground.

“They don’t even have uniform. Though students of Kwara State University donated uniforms to two pupils – a boy and a girl. As I speak presently the two pupils are no more in school. The parents are very hostile to the school but we, the teachers exercise patience in dealing with them.

“They don’t encourage their children or wards, they send them on unnecessary errands when they are supposed to be in school.”

“As I said earlier, we are just three teachers here, one come from Shao every day while the other lady comes from Ilorin. It drains us financially. I have been the only teacher here since 2018 with about 50 pupils with no single classroom. Some of the pupils eventually stopped coming to school”.

A primary four pupil of the school, Ahmadu Abdulazeez, appealed to the state government to turn its attention to the school, noting that it would be of extreme joy for him and other pupils to see the school develop into a standard facility, where they would be able to learn under conducive environment.

Also, speaking to our reporter, a parent, Mrs. Fatimah Ishaq, charged the government to provide more buildings and furniture to aid quality learning and teaching in the school.

When contacted, the Chairman, Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board (KWSUBEB), Professor Shehu Abdulraheem Adaramaja in a WhatsApp message forwarded to this reporter via the office of Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, said: “This administration has embarked on aggressive infrastructural renewals of schools across Kwara. We have provided classrooms, furniture, computers, and sanitation facilities across some 605 schools over the last two years alone. There are 2,686 basic schools under the State Universal Basic Education Board.

“The gap we met is so huge that we can only fix the deficits in phases. Gaa Alaanu, Nomadic Primary School, like many others, is on our radar, and we will definitely get there.

“We are aware of the ongoing construction of a block of two classrooms in the school by a nonprofit organisation, and we really welcome such partnership to rebuild our schools for the benefit of all. On our part, we have recently posted three teachers to the school to support learning. The school has also been captured in the next phase of KwaraLEARN enrollment to further support our children for better learning outcomes.”

By: Ibrahim Mohammed Gambari

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