Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun state has decided to remodel some schools abandoned by the immediate past administration in favour of information technology. OLUFEMI ADEDIRAN writes on the reactions.
In 2011 when the immediate past governor of Ogun state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, was sworn-in as the fourth civilian governor, he started a mission to change the face of the state by embarking on massive infrastructural projects that cut across all sectors.
These projects included six-lane roads, flyovers, modern shopping malls and model schools, among others.
The state was therefore turned into a theatre of projects as contractors moved into construction sites scattered across the length and breath of the state with machineries tearing down buildings to pave way for either new ones or new roads.
Amosun, no doubt, wanted to do the impossible and impress the people of the state; he also wanted to leave an indelible mark when he eventually leaves.
In addition to all of these, he embarked on the construction of 28 model schools across the state. His plan, according to the vision, was to have the schools built in each of the 20 local government areas of the state, however, reports indicated that some local governments have more than one built for them.
This plan was greeted with greater enthusiasm by parents and pupils across the state.
According to Amosun, each of the school costs between N750 to N820 million naira, and designed to accommodate 1,000 students and over 200 teaching and non-teaching staff.
While explaining the motive behind the construction of those schools, Amosun said the concept of the multi-million naira model schools was to redefine secondary school education, make it a reference point in teaching and learning, revolutionise the education sector and set the pace in access to quality education as well as help to decongest some of the over- populated and long- established public secondary schools that routinely admit students far beyond their carrying capacities to the detriment of the optimal performance of both the students and teachers.
Only one functionalHowever, after all the billions of naira spent on those schools and the eight-year administration of Amosun was over, investigation reveals that only one out of the 28 schools is functioning. The Akin Ogunpola Model School in Akinale, Ewekoro local government area of the state commenced academic activities when it admitted 60 students into junior secondary school one and two classes for the 2016/2017 academic session.
But the rest of the schools have been in a state of neglect and have turned into an ugly spectacle to both residents and passers-by.
Many people were disappointed at the way Amosun handled the schools, and to that extent, their love for the former governor faded away.
The people’s hope that the school would address the students population surge in the state and enhance access to education became a mirage during Amosun’s tenure.
Abiodun raises new hopeBut Governor Dapo Abiodun has rekindled the hope of the people as he revealed that his administration would convert the model schools into vocational skills acquisition and information communication technology centres.
Governor Abiodun, who made the disclosure during an on- the-spot assessment of on-going projects across the state, said the schools would be put to use as vocational skills acquisition and ICT training centres towards the actualisation of the digital transformation dreams of the state.
The governor, who visited the sites of the ongoing projects to examine their conditions and stages of completion for the purpose of continuity, observed that some of the model schools’ structure were defective, promising they would be rectified in earnest.
During the visit he said, “Our administration is bent on digital transformation of the state and education would be given outmost priority as it would play a focal point in achieving this purpose.”
The governor, who noted that with the already- existing structures, the vision would be fast-tracked, insisted that, “Tax payers’ money have been put into building these structures, so, we must make use of them; no model school would be left fallow, this I can tell you.”
He reiterated that, at least, one primary school would be renovated in each ward across the local government areas in fulfilment of his electioneering campaign promises, while appreciating the people for their love and support.
Parents react Governor Abiodun’s decision has continued to generate reactions from members of the public. While some people are commending the decision, others are not happy with it.
Speaking in support of the governor’s decision, a parent, Mrs Taiwo Adelakun said, “We were glad when Amosun’s administration started the construction of the schools across the state. We thought with the construction of the schools, our children would have a chance of attending better public schools.
“Unfortunately, we never get to send our children to the schools. Till this moment, nobody gave us any reasonable explanation as to why those schools did not take off despite Amosun administration’s claims that they were ready for use.
“With the news that Governor Abiodun’s administration is planning to convert the schools into vocational and ICT training schools, we are once again happy that children can still have quality education.
“With the decision of the government, there is no doubt that the socio-economic activities of the state would receive a huge boost.
“Our hope is that the government would start the execution of the plan soon so that academic activities can start as soon as possible,” Adelakun added.
Divergent viewsBut in a contrary view to Adelakun, a teacher, Mr Kunle Adesina, argued that converting the schools into vocational and ICT training hubs is against the original plan the immediate past administration had for the schools.
According to him, using the schools as vocational and ICT training centres would defeat the aim for which the schools were built for.
“They were built for the purpose of decongesting secondary schools across the state. If you now convert them into ICT and vocational training centres, what happens to the secondary schools that are already overstretched?
“Majority of the schools in state are already overstretched as a result of population of students. Their facilities can no longer cater for the number of students attending them.”Adesina queried further, “What would happen to these over- congested schools if the model schools that are supposed to relieve them of pressure are now being considered for conversion”?