June 13, 2024

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From UNICEF, A Cry For Dilapidated Rural Schools In Bayelsa

4 min read

Absence of sound education has been identified the world over as the bane of underdevelopment especially in the Third World nations and Africa in particular. In Africa, Nigeria, though claiming to be giant of the continent, is in the map of the most academically disadvantaged countries. This is hugely evident in the pitiable level of underdevelopment and impoverishment of the citizenry which have culminated in insurgency and general insecurity which have brought the most populous African country on her knees at the moment.
In Bayelsa State, the story of underdevelopment, poverty, sea piracy, kidnapping, armed robbery and cultism, as a result of high degree of illiteracy, is untold. The negative effects of lack of education in Bayelsa State, particularly in the hinterlands, can be visibly felt and even touched. Many factors are responsible for the inadequate educational progress in Bayelsa ranging from government’s insincerity, corruption and lack of commitment to academic advancement by successive administrations till date.
It is based on the foregoing that the United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) is frantically, vigorously pursuing the death of illiteracy in all parts of Africa including Nigeria and her federating units. This, UNICEF does, in collaboration with federal, state and local governments. Apart from helping the underdeveloped countries financially, one of the strongest and perhaps most effective strategy used by UNICEF in pursuing her goal of poverty eradication through education is rural-urban sensitization programmes on the need for government agencies and parents to ensure that their children and wards are sent to school.
Penultimate week, UNICEF took her drive for an educated society to rural communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. It was a sensitization campaign tour of the villages. From community to community, UNICEF officials, in collaboration with the Bayelsa State Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the ministry of education, held town hall meetings with community leaders, parents as well as primary school pupils and secondary school students. The message was clear. All children of school age must be in school. All dropped out pupils and students must return to school. Measures must be put in place by relevant government agencies to check the menace of truancy and dropout from schools.
In all the meetings held, parents, community leaders and other participants expressed joy to UNICEF for the gesture but not without expression of reservations and dissatisfactions over the deteriorating state of the educational system in the hinterlands. They pointed accusing fingers at the state government for outrightly abandoning the rural schools.
Most of the participants even questioned the state of emergency declared on the education sector in the state. They recounted the dilapidated states of primary and secondary school buildings in most communities. They decried the non-availability of teachers in most of the schools. Also worrisome, according to the participants at the events, is the lack of chairs, desks and instructional materials in most of the schools.
Participants identified the deplorable conditions of the school system as largely responsible for truancy and high number of school dropouts in the rural villages in Bayelsa state. At Igeibiri community particularly, stakeholders observed that the school looked dilapidated and lacked teachers, desks and instructional materials. So it was in other places visited. A parent, Mrs. Favour James who spoke to journalists at one of the stakeholders meetings lamented that poor state of the schools had discouraged many pupils and students out of school.
She said in Ijaw language and translated thus: “Some of our children are tired of sitting on bare floor to learn under dilapidated buildings. Sometimes when we urge them to go to school, they feel reluctant and complain of lack of chairs at schools.” Participants also identified high level of cultism in both primary and secondary schools in the villages as one of the reasons for truancy and dropouts from schools. Parents complained that some pupils and students drop out of school due to fear of intimidation from pair groups to forcefully initiate them into cultism. Also identified as a cause of school dropouts is sexual harassment of the girl child by their male counterparts or school staff which often times lead to teenage pregnancy.
Participants at the events, however, encouraged parents to always urge their children to return to be in school, no matter the pitiable condition, while calling on the state government to leave up to its expectations. They enjoined SUBEB and the Bayelsa State ministry of education to beam their searchlight on the rural areas so as to raise the level of education in the villages to the standard they are in Yenagoa and few other urban communities in the state.
UNICEF Focal Person, Mrs. Ibudeleye Ikoko who spoke in an intervew encouraged parents not to relent on their efforts to ensure that their children get the best of education which she described as a panacea for poverty and underdevelopment that hard plunged the people for numerous years. She urged participants to help disseminate the information gathered during the event to their respective communities for the good of all.

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