Tinubu’s millennium schools: Going the way of others

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Disused toilet facilities, malnourished classroom at Millennium Schools, Ojodu

When in 2001 the former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu promised to build at least a model “millennium” secondary school in each of the 20 local councils of the state, many residents were ecstatic because the new schools would, among other things, provide better learning environment for students, as well as accommodate higher number of students.

Tinubu made the promise about two years to the end of his first term. However, by the time the curtain fell on his first term, he had succeeded in building just four, three of which he named after Nigerians of South West extraction, including his mother.

The Abibatu Mogaji Senior Secondary School, Agege, was commissioned on March 1, 2002, by Tinubu in the Agege area of the state. The other three commissioned during that era were the Bola Ige Millennium Senior Secondary School, Ajeromi-Ifelodun; The Millennium Senior Secondary, Egbeda, and the Babs Fafunwa Millennium Secondary, Ojodu.

Surprisingly, all through his four-year second term, Tinubu did not construct any other millennium school. So, by the time he completed his second term in office in 2007, only four-millennium schools were in existence despite all the fuss that the initiative generated.

It was learned that his administration failed to construct the other 16 millennium schools because of a change in strategy, which saw it opting to rehabilitate existing schools and construction of smaller and more efficiently managed schools.

Over the years, there has been a huge gap in the availability of public schools in the state, and this has resulted in individuals and private organisations coming in to bridge the gap in the sector, with the establishment of about 18,000 private schools, with a good number of them being substandard and operating without government approval.

In 2017, the immediate past governor of the state, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode said his administration would require about N60b to give public schools in the state a facelift, as well as set up new schools, especially in the riverine areas.

However, a visit to Babs Fafunwa Millennium Secondary School, Ojodu by The Guardian revealed that the school is gradually joining the league of poorly maintained public schools.

From outside, the school building looks a bit well-managed, but the rot assails one once you venture into the classrooms. Apart from most of the windows being off, the classrooms are decrepit, while the toilets constitute an eyesore. Interestingly, while most of the classrooms are without windows, the classrooms that have been converted to staffrooms for teachers are still intact. Same applies to the principal and the vice principal’s offices, as well as the laboratories.

In one of the classrooms, there are less than 10 desks, including the ones that are broken down. The chalkboards and doors are not left out, as some of them are either partly damaged or totally off.

Of course, some of the ceiling fans are without blades and their regulators damaged, while other electrical appliances are not functional.

The fine cemented floors of some of the classrooms are already giving way, and are being replaced by coarse, sandy surfaces.

Space constraint has forced the conversion of spaces in-between staircases on almost all the floors to classrooms constructed with plywood.

The Chairman of Parents’ Forum, Babs Fafunwa Millennium Secondary School, Alhaji Azeez, blamed the student’s “disruptive behaviour” for the poor state of facilities in the school.

He claimed that the government with the support of the Parents’ Forum had severally intervened to ensure that facilities in the school were in good shape, adding that days and weeks after such interventions, the renovated or upgraded facilities would again be damaged by students.

On what steps the forum had taken to halt such “wanton destruction,” he said it has constantly engaged parents to speak to their wards on the need to act appropriately and ensure that facilities in the school are properly used.

The situation at the Millennium Secondary School, Egbeda is better compared to that of Babs Fafunwa Millennium Secondary School, Ojodu.

Even though the buildings here look well-maintained, at least from the outside, some of the classrooms are without furniture, while those with chairs and desks are not better than what is obtained at Ojodu. Chalkboards here are also in pathetic shape.

The general ambiance here, also suggests a lack of attention and poor maintenance culture.

If the two schools paint a pathetic picture, the Bola Ige Millennium Secondary School, Ajegunle is in dire need of very urgent attention.

Not only are the walls screaming for a makeover, but facilities in the school are also in short supply. There is a gross dearth of chairs and desk for students. Consequently, most students sit on the floor during lessons. A good number of classrooms are without doors and windowpanes. Ceiling fans installed in the classes are now ornamental.

According to the Chairman, Parents’ Forum, Bola Ige Millennium Secondary School, Ajegunle, Ademola Adeojo, facilities in the school are so dilapidated to the point that students now take lessons sitting on the bare floor.

“We have a major problem with school furniture. Tinubu established the school to immortalise the Late Bola Ige. But looking at the school in its present form, it needs total rehabilitation, because the painting has faded, and there is a serious challenge with furniture. We also need a public address system here, while the laboratories need to be equipped; physics, chemistry and biology laboratories should be upgraded. When the school was established, it was highly equipped, but the facilities are dilapidated now.

“The classrooms are okay, but the floors need to be plastered again since the earlier plastering has failed. The school has about 16 toilets, but we need additional sanitary managers, at least two, to manage the toilets. There is only one person managing the toilets for now. Before the last administration, sometimes parents intervened in providing support for the school when there is a need gap. But now, a new state government’s policy forbids the payment of PTA levies. During the tenures of Tinubu and Fashola, when we write letters informing them of projects we intend to carry out, such projects were approved and some parents would go ahead to pay for its execution, while some would not, but Governor Ambode put a stop to that.

“Whatever is collected as donations at the PTA meetings is what we used to support the school. Parents of students in Ajegunle schools are poor, so during donations, what is usually realised is little or nothing. So, donation does not work here,” Adeojo stated.

The Commissioner for Education and the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Education did not pick their calls, neither responded to the messages sent.

The Guardian

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