By Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
The Kwara State Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development has debunked the existent of over 200 ghost schools in the state.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Hajia Maryam Ayodeji Garuba during a chat with National Pilot in her office on Tuesday, said the report is unfounded.
Recall that the news of the existence of the ghost schools in the state went viral online recently.
According to her, the number is outrageous, saying the news is still in the realm of speculation until proven to be true.
“That number is outrageous. I also saw it in the social media, it has not been confirmed. It is still an allegation.
She said a committee of 11 comprising staff of State Universal Board (SUBEB), state Teaching Service and the Ministry have been mandated to look into the issue.
“We have asked them to compile the names of all the schools that we have on our data and match it with names of schools that are being paid so that if it is more, we will know something is wrong,” she explained.
Garuba disclosed that the number of primary schools in the state are 1,566, junior secondary, 434 with senior secondary having 346.
She, however, urged those who are behind the report to assist the ministry and the government by coming out with th names and locations of the said schools.
“We went round the state in 2016 and 2017, we discovered some ‘classrooms’ that were under the tree, we found the staff and students, we found their chairs and lockers under the tree but we did not discover schools that never existed. We found schools that their structures were appaling.
On the 99 schools that were shut down across the state, the Permanent Secretary noted that it was a measure to curb proliferation of illegal schools in the state.
She said the affected schools did not seek approval from the ministry and most of them operate in environment that is unconducive for learning by children and their teachers.
She adduced the high number of illegal schools to the lack of tools and fund to carry out effective monitoring by the ministry.
“The officials of the Quality Assurance Bureau (QAB) have been doing their job. In recent time the ministry has not had enough instrument to perform. We don’t have vehicles to move around, we don’t have allocation to buy fuel to do monitoring and you know if you don’t have tools to perform your duty it will be difficult.
“Probably because people have noticed that we have not been going round to do our monitoring properly, they also seize the opportunity to do what they have done with impunity.
“Because they feel government is not concerned and so they started opening schools as if they were opening shops to sell vegetables. Whereas you can do anything with other sectors but not with health and education.
Now that we have been challenged by government, our allocation has started coming in, we have no reason not to work. The Governor has given us instrument to perform our duty,” she added.
Some schools operating in their own flat and they even put students in their kitchen; they converted their kitchen to classrooms. In some facilities, they use pit toilet for children. A facility was just near a refuse dump. The environment is not conducive for learning. Some facilities there were goats going in and out of the classrooms. So that was why we close those schools. They did not seek for approval.”
To ensure compliance by schools that have been sealed, she said officials of the ministry will embark on monitoring to ensure that the institutions are not reopened when schools resume September.