FG Admits Sorry State of Nigerian Schools
November 24, 2004
Posted to the web November 24, 2004
By Chidi Nkwopara
THE Federal Government has expressed regret that the physical environment in many schools in Nigeria not only presents a sorry sight but also constitutes serious health hazard to the students.
The federal Minister of Environment, Col. Bala Mande (rtd) raised the alarm in Owerri in a keynote address delivered on his behalf by the Assistant Director, Environment, Health and Sanitation in his ministry,Mr. Abdulrasaq Ashiru, during a national conference on school sanitation and hygiene for schools in Nigeria."The physical environment in many schools in Nigeria presents a sorry state.
With dilapidated buildings, unkempt premises overgrown with weeds, most schools are sited in areas that are noisy and harzardous due to heavy road and human traffic," the Minister lamented.
Recalling the survey which his ministry carried out in 2001 in 44 Federal Government Colleges in the North Central, North East and South -South geo-political zones, Mande disclosed that most of the institutions lacked potable water, functional toilets and adequate waste disposal facilities."
The survey also revealed that most of the boarding schools and colleges provide favourable opportunities for the breeding of pests, notably cockroaches, bedbugs and rats. The survey further revealed that routine school inspection by the appropriate authorities is not carried out", the Minister fumed.
.He equally lamented that most of the Federal Government colleges visited "are provided with water carriage system toilets" but regretted that "inadequacy of water supply results in their being unkempt", resulting in indiscriminate defecation by students in and around the school premises.
"It is common knowledge that lack of adequate, functional and sanitary facilities in schools diminishes the motivation of school children for school attendance, with a potential depressive effect of school enrolment and attendance, especially for girls. In addition, recurrent sanitation related illnesses lead to school absenteeism, which in turn affects learning and developmental achievements of the affected school children", the Minister reasoned.
He said that the Federal Ministry of Education, as a member of the NationalTechnical Committee on Environmental Sanitation, is to ensure that all schools comply with extant minimumstandards on environmental sanitation before accrediting the schools.
"My ministry has also developed a national environmental sanitation action plan, in which schoolsanitation has been included, so as to achieve effective and sustainable sound school sanitation inthe country. The tasks related to this include but not limited to routine pest and vector control in schools,vegetation control, provision of safe recreational facilities, as well as registration and monitoring ofschool food vendors", the Minister explained.In his own message, the Minister of Education, Professor Fabian N. C. Osuji, said he is disturbed bythe poor state of the general environmental sanitation in the country.
The Minister who was represented by the Director, Educational Support Services in the Ministry, Mrs. B.C. Braimah, also fumed that "the mounting heaps of garbage by the roads, dumps of solid wastes andlitters of refuse in almost every part of our living homes and public places are conditions which encouragethe spread of diseases".Continuing, the Minister recalled with nostalgia "the good old days when educational institutions used to be the pride of our societies in terms of neatness of persons and surroundings with beautiful arrangementsof flowers and hedges", adding that "this is not the situation now".