By Adebayo Olodan

A Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), has called on the Kwara State Government to prioritise funding of the state-owned schools while also calling on government to decalre state of emergency in the educational sector of the state.

The group described most of the public schools in the state as caricature of their old setting.

In a press statement signed by its coordinator, Dr. Alagbonsi Abdullateef at the weekend, ENetSuD noted that funding of education across the state has been grossly inadequate.

As part of ENetSuD obligation to bringing the state government’s attention to areas of public interest for immediate government’s intervention, the group’s Directorate of Investigation and Public Petition visited some schools across Kwara State.

Among the schools visited according to ENetSuD were; Ilorin Grammar School (IGS), Ilorin, Government High School (GHS) Ilorin, Government Secondary School (GSS) Ilorin, Mount Carmel College (MCC) Ilorin, Government Technical College (GTC) Patigi, Islamiyyah College Patigi, Taoheed LGEA Primary School Offa and about 30 other schools across Kwara State where the 2017 Federal Government Zonal Intervention Projects were located.

“Our investigation showed that the public schools across Kwara State are in a state of shame. The deplorable conditions of the schools with dilapidated structures make them unhealthy for effective teaching and learning. This could have been one of the reasons for low patronage of public schools, thereby making privates schools the next option for people who want a befitting school for their children and wards.

The group further alleged that aside infrastructural decay, another major problem facing public schools in most communities outside Ilorin is under staffing.

It cited cases of several schools in Patigi Local Government Area of the state where there are only four or five teaching staff.

“How then, is effective teaching and learning expected to take place in these schools considering the grossly insufficient number of teaching staff?

Meanwhile, the group has applauded the construction of classrooms in various schools across the state by Federal Government as part of the Zonal Intervention (Constituency) Projects nominated by the Federal Legislators from Kwara State.

“We also commend the state government for the creation of IVTEC Ajase-Ipo, which will definitely promote vocational and technical education in Kwara State.

“However, we totally condemn the consistent lack of maintenance culture by the state government on the already existing schools and their classrooms. Based on the pitiable level of negligence of various schools, we do not have confidence that the state government will also maintain the classrooms recently built with tax-payers money.”

When contacted, the Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Hajia Bilikisu Oniyangi, debunked the claim that there were not enough teachers in Kwara schools.

Speaking on Saturday in a telephone interview with our reporter, Oniyangi said if the findings of ENetSuD were actually true, the group should have alerted the ministry as partners of the government, “otherwise the allegation may have emanated from the opposing camp.”

“Let the group come forward with their findings and we will show them the record of the teachers in various schools across the state. Most often, I have gone round only to see many teachers not being at their post when they were supposed to be there. From our record, we have teachers in Patigi and other schools.

On decayed infrastructure, she said, “It is a national issue and that could be corrected if the Federal Government priortise education by increasing its budget. Whatever is done at the federal level is being domesticated by the states.

“Despite our lean purse, the Kwara State Government is doing a quick fix on our schools and when you compare the number of schools we have to the budget, you will agree with me it cannot go round,” she submitted.