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To Access Public Education, Students Trek Distances, Rent Accommodation In Other Communities

Alice Igor, 14, walks over 25 kilometres weekly from her community, Oye-Idelle, to Obusa, where she attends the Government Secondary school.

 

Oye-Idelle, a community in Oju II state constituency, once had a gloried UBE Secondary School, but the school is now a shadow of itself, forcing residents who seek education to find alternatives, mostly at far distances. 

Signboard at Oye Idelle

“Every week, I and some other students will have to travel far distances to Obusa,” Miss Igor said. “That is where our school is. We do that every Sunday ahead of Monday.”

 

Her journey was only 25 kilometres because she leaves home on Sundays and returns on Fridays, an option many residents can’t afford.

 

“I have a room there that I rented for N6, 000 annually. The only advantage is that I could stay there over the weekdays and return here at weekends to look for money or help my parents on the farm,” Miss Igor said. 

 

Miss Igor and other students in her community would not have had to go through this circle of hardships to access education if the UBE school in Oye-Idelle was not abandoned. 

 

The school is still functioning, but it currently grapples with infrastructural and manpower deficits. When a UDEME reporter visited in June, he found the structures depreciating.

The principal and the vice princip in their office

A bushy entrance made worse with refuse dumped around the school creates a stench that makes the environment non-conducive.

 

“Painfully, we carry out academic activities here,” Odeh James, the school principal, said. 

 

The principal’s office and the staff room are in a room in a building with cracked walls. In the office, dossiers, textbooks, and office files can be seen on the ground. 

 

Mr Odeh said the school is facing many challenges, chiefly of which is infrastructure. 

 

He said: “I was posted to this school as a principal about two years ago.  In the whole school since I came till this moment, we are just two teachers handling about ten subjects across the three Junior classes. It is extremely demanding.

 

“Apart from that, there are no teaching materials like textbooks, dictionaries and others.”

 

“I made a report to the Local government area through the Education Secretary, Mr Thomas Adagba, but he didn’t do anything.” 

 

“In 2021, he came to the school for a familiarisation visit to where the challenges were again said to him, and he saw them himself. He left promising to come back, but I no longer hear from him,” Mr Odeh said. 

 

The tough choice and the blurry future

 

 

Onah Ikong, a 24-year-old resident, dreamed of becoming a medical doctor, but he had to shelve his aspiration due to the state of his school.

 

He lost his parents after primary school and could not afford the cost of furthering in a secondary school as the one in Oye-Idelle was in a sorry state. He could not afford to journey elsewhere for secondary school education.

 

“I am not happy seeing that my childhood friends have given up their dream due to lack of basic education. I wish something is being done for the coming generations,” Mr Ikong said. 

What the classrooms look like

 

The project that would have made a difference

 

 

In 2020, Samson Okwu, the lawmaker representing the Oji/Obi federal constituency, nominated the construction of a block of two classrooms in Oye-Idelle as a Zonal Intervention Project (ZIP).  

 

The project was titled, “Construction of One block of two classrooms in Oye Idelle, Oju LGA.” It was pegged at N9 million and was placed under the supervision of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Ministry of Education. 

 

Information from the Accountant-General of the Federation revealed that all 2020 ZIPs had been fully funded. 

 

“There is neither construction nor renovation of any kind in this school nor this community,” Mr Odeh said when asked about the project.

James Odeh, the principal, UBE oye Idelle

The situation worries Peter Idenyi, the community monarch who is now frustrated at his efforts to make changes.

 

Clement Onaa, the former Chairman of the Oju Local Government, expressed his frustration at not being able to do much during his tenure.

 

“As a government, we are aware of the levels of deploration and dilapidated structures around schools in our area. It is unfortunate that we are not able to do much.

 

“All through our tenure, there is no budget allocated to the basic schools in our area despite several reports and complaints to the state education board.

 

“We have written letters and even made oral reports. [They are] yet to be fruitful,” he said.

 

Mr Okwu, the lawmaker who nominated the construction of that project, could not be reached. Several calls were placed, and all were left unanswered; the messages sent were also unattended. 

 

When reached, UBEC spokesperson, Apeh David, told this reporter he did not have any information on the project.

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