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Lagos secondary school where students sit on floor, windows to receive lectures

In 2009, when Governor Babatunde Fashola of
Lagos State obtained a whooping $90 million
(N13.5 billion) World Bank Education Loan, to
fund teaching and learning infrastructure under
the State‘s Eko Secondary Education Project,
many a Lagosians thought the era where pupils
and students across the public schools in the
state sit on bare floor, tyres, broken furniture or
even windows is now a thing of the past.
But this is not yet so, own to gory experiences
currently being witnessed especially by the JSS1
and JSS2 students at the Ajeromi Ifelodun
Secondary School, AIJSS (alias Sinclair), in the
popular ghetto city, Ajegunle.
At the school, sited in the heart of the Ajeromi/
Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state,
investigations by South West Voice reveals that
despite the over 52, 532 furniture, said to be
procured by the state government between 2009
and 2013, several schools in the state, including
AIJSS, annually, compel parents whose children
get admitted into JSS1, to pay N2, 000 for the
provision of furniture (chairs and desks).
Provision of furniture
Parents who failed to pay the said amount have
their children sit on bare floor, tyres, broken
furniture, classroom windows, or even stand
during lessons.
Recall that in December 2013, the Socio Economic
Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP had
sought the order of the Federal High Court, Lagos
to direct the state government to release
information on its spending of the loan.
SERAP also asked the court to demand details of
the projects executed with the loan in the 667
schools across the state in line with the Freedom
of Information Act.
52, 532 furniture in 4 years
Fashola, had on June 23, 2014, while launching a
book entitled “Eko Project: A Legacy of
Excellence,”in Lagos, explained that there was
nothing to hide as the funds had been deployed
judiciously.
He affirmed that the loan, which was obtained to
fund teaching and learning infrastructure under
the State‘s Eko Secondary Education Project, was
achieving its purpose as it had significantly
improved students’ performance.
In the same vein, Ms. Ronke Azeez, Special Adviser
to the Governor on Eko Project, in her own
explanation, said the $90 million loan provided
direct funding to schools between 2009 and 2013.
Among other things, Azeez who said that the
government spent some of the funds on 7,786
white boards, 20,592 mathematical sets, 4,668
teaching modules and procurement of 52, 532
furniture, boasted that the World Bank had given
the state a pass mark on the funds utilisation and
rated the Eko project as highly satisfactory.
However, despite the state government’s
defences, when South West Voice visited the
Ajeromi Ifelodun Secondary School, Monday,
students in JSS1 and JSS2 were seen sitting on
bare floor, tyres, broken furniture and classroom
windows receiving lessons, even as others were
seen standing during lessons.
Parents, students lament
Lamenting the situation, a parent who pleaded
not to be mentioned, whose daughter just got
admitted into JSS1 said “All of us whose children
just got admitted into JSS1 were asked to pay N2,
000 each for the procurement of furniture for our
children to sit. I am hesitant in paying the money
to the school management, because of my past
experience last year.
“Last year, when my eldest child, got admitted
into Awodi-Ora Secondary School, parents were
asked to pay the same N2, 000 for procurement
of chairs and desks. After months of payment, my
son and other students didn’t get the furniture on
time. It took several months before they got
them.
“You had to see my son, each time he returns
after school hours, his uniforms were always very
dirty, because they were sitting on the bare floor.
It’s so horrible,” she said.
Another parent, Mr. Okafor, whose son just got
admitted into JSS1 expressed displeasure that the
state government’s claims to operate free-
education, but fails to provide chairs and desks
for students to sit.
His words: “I thought the Lagos state government
operates free-education, but when I came here to
register my son, we were asked to pay N2, 000
each for the procurement of chairs and desks. I
was skeptical of the immediate procurement of
this furniture, so I had to look for two other
parents that contributed N2, 000 each, and we
found a carpenter that made a chair and desk for
our three wards.
“Now, they have a seat to sit during lessons. But I
am unhappy that when you visit their classroom,
there are a lot of other students who don’t have
chairs and desks to sit, but resort to sitting on the
floor, tyres and even the windows. It is worrisome
and I hope the state government can urgently
address this situation.
According to John, one of the students in JSS1,
“Governor Babatunde Fashola should please
come to our aid. It is very difficult for us to see
the blackboard during lessons, because we sit on
broken furniture placed on tyres at the back.”
Confidence, a JSS1 student caught sitting on the
window while lessons were on said: “We were
asked to pay N2, 000 for the procurement of
chairs and desks on resumption. But because my
parents cannot afford the levy, that is why I am
sitting on the window.”
Luckily for Ifeoluwa, the parents were able to join
two other parents to procure a chair and desk for
she and her friends. She told South West Voice
that “I feel uncomfortable with the overcrowded
situation of my classroom. Most times, we are five
students on a sit instead of the usual three,
because other students whose parents can’t
afford to procure chairs and desks for them join
us. I and my friends who are the original owners
of the chair and desk, can’t send them away,
because it is not their fault, but that of
government.”
The Principal of the Junior School (name
withheld), who was said to be ill and could not
speak to the press, directed our correspondent to
another senior male teacher, who attested that
the parents were asked to pay N2, 000 in order to
complement the efforts of the state government
in the provision of chairs for the student.
The teacher who pleaded anonymity said: “It has
not been easy for us the teachers in our day-to-
day routine of teaching these massive number of
students. Own to the fact that the state
government operates a free education, we have
discovered that so many parents are now
withdrawing their children from private schools
and they are now swarming the public schools.
This has brought about overcrowding in public
schools, including our school.
“So, because of this overcrowding situation, the
available furniture is no longer enough for the
students, that is why you see some of them sitting
on the floor, broken furniture, tyres and even on
the windows.
“Government earlier this year, sent chairs and
desks to our school, but they are still not enough.
I don’t see anything wrong in parents
complementing government’s efforts because
government cannot do everything,” he affirmed.
Complementing government’s efforts
Also reacting, the Education Secretary, Ajeromi/
Ifelodun LGA, Adewale Adeogun said: “We are
aware of the inadequate furniture in the school,
because of the high number of students flocking
the school, as well as other public primary and
secondary schools in the state, own to the state
government’s free education policy. However, as
for the N2, 000 payment by parents, it may not be
untrue, as the Parents Forum (PTA) of the school,
may have decided that every parents with new
intake should pay the levy, in order to
complement government’s efforts in the
procurement of chairs and desks to easy
learning.”
Meanwhile, efforts to speak to the Lagos State
Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka
Oladunjoye, as at the time of filing this report
proved abortive, as calls to her phone was not
connecting.

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