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Opinion

St. Timothy A/C Primary School Taribor, Ondo State as Textbook Definition of Neglect -By Jerome-Mario Utomi

Each passing day brings to mind how public office holders in Nigeria pay lip service to the nation’s sector. Talking about this neglect, it is an act that no public office holder can boast of clean. The neglect comes in different forms and shapes and affects all levels of learning, from primary to the university.

High Chief Joseph Uduboh, the Tonwei of Tubutoru Kingdom, has described as unacceptable the dismal condition of St Timothy A/C Primary School in Taribor, a riverine Ijaw community in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State, and therefore, called on Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the Local Government Chairman to prioritize the restoration and transformation of the school to ensure that the students have a safe and conducive learning environment.

Chief Joseph Uduboh who spoke on behalf of the kingdom stated this recently when he conducted newsmen round the now dilapidated school.

According to him, St Timothy A/C Primary School in Taribor, a riverine Ijaw community in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State, currently stands as a textbook definition of neglect and amply represents a ‘school’ where no learning takes place.

Aside from representing heart-wrenching tales of neglect and disrepair, he further stated that the school, which was established in 1954 by missionaries, has suffered protracted neglect by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu led government in the state.

The Tonwei of Tubutoru Kingdom, who conducted the media round the now abandoned school, pointed at buildings with dilapidated classrooms, laced with fallen windows, doors and callings.

While noting that there exists an urgent need for Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, of Ondo state to take immediate action and have the school repaired, High Joseph Uduboh, lamented that once-promising institution has fallen into a state of despair, rendering it unsuitable for education with fallen windows, crumbling roof, and overall dilapidation.

He blamed the current state of the once bubbling school on neglect by the state government and wondered why the state government should abandon a school in a community that has in the past produced Councilors and delivers high numbers of votes at every election.

The traditional ruler is not alone in this expression of disappointments..

Chief Goodluck Hills, immediate past President, students Union of the clan spoke in similar vein.

In his words, the school was a symbol of hope and enlightenment. But now, it stands as a symbol of decay. With fallen windows and a deteriorating roof, the learning environment has become perilous and unsuitable for both pupils and teachers. The compromised roof and shattered windows not only hinders the learning process but also pose significant safety risks to everyone in the school.

Continuing, he said; Pupils are forced to sit on the floor to learn due to the absence of proper seating and facilities. The lives of pupils and teachers are in jeopardy due to the precarious condition of the building.

He described as unacceptable the deplorable state of St Timothy A/C Primary School in Taribor community, insisting that the deplorable state of the school serves as an urgent call to action for Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the local government.

The traditional ruler argued that swift intervention is required to rectify this dire situation. Education according to him, is the cornerstone of progress and development, and the state of this school is a glaring contradiction to the commitment to providing quality education for the citizens of Ondo State.

The dismal condition of St Timothy A/C Primary School demands immediate attention from both the state and local governments. Governor Rotimi Akeredolu must prioritize the restoration and transformation of this school to ensure that the students have a safe and conducive learning environment. It is through such actions that the promise of quality education can be fulfilled for all, allowing the students of St Timothy A/C Primary School to access the education they deserve. He concluded.

Essentially, it will in the opinion of this piece be convenient for some to argue that the crushing weight arising from education funding in Nigeria and globally has become too heavy for only the government to shoulder and therefore, state governments should not be blamed when ugly incidence such as this arises, others may equally say that Primary school administration in every state within the Federation is under the preview of the Local government authorities-a point that partially exonerates the state government.

The above facts notwithstanding, that a school such as St Timothy A/C Primary School Taribor, Ondo State still exists is a glaring sign that the Ondo state government does not recognize the time-honoured believe which considers education as the bedrock of development; that with sound educational institutions, a country is as good as made -as the institutions will turn out all rounded manpower to continue with the development of the society driven by well thought out ideas, policies, programmes and projects.

Their action equally symbolizes a government that is not in consonance with the fact that it is their responsibility to ensure that our schools work and our children are properly educated at the right time. Also disheartening is the awareness that this reign of neglect is happening at a time when children enjoy the right to education as recognized by a number of international conventions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which recognizes a compulsory primary education for all, an obligation to develop secondary education accessible to all, as well as the progressive introduction of free higher education/obligation to develop equitable access to higher education.

More tragic is the fact that Ondo state governor is a lawyer and should not have forgotten that very recently, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in line with its mandate to promote and protect human rights has established the right to education as a thematic area of focus to drive its vision of having all children enrolled in school as well as to ensure that the culture of human rights is promoted and maintained in schools.
Most importantly, Ondo state children reserve the right to hold the state government accountable if they fail to provide this traditional but universal responsibility to them.

Finally, if the state government fails in this responsibility, chances are that most of these children will run to the streets. As we know, the streets are known for breeding all sorts of criminals and other social misfits who constitute the real threat such as armed robbers, thugs, drug abusers, drunkards, prostitutes and all other social ills that give a bad name to the society.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via; jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374

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