Islamic Mission Primary School is one of the public primary schools in Ibadan that is faced with multitudinous infrastructural challenges. The pupils of the school are faced with lack of water and inaccessible toilet for teachers and pupils. The pupils, however, continue to strive in such a debilitating learning condition in order to acquire formal education and fulfill their dreams and aspiration in life. Oyetunde Oni writes on the enormous challenges the pupils in the school are facing as they groan on a daily basis for improved learning conditions.
The school is popularly called ‘Onikokoro’ primary school by residents living in the community. But the name of the school is Islamic Mission Primary school. Located around ‘Onikokoro’ in Lagelu Local Government Area, about seven minutes drive from ‘Akobo Ojurin.’ The school-Islamic Mission Primary School needs no further introduction in the community, the reason is this; it’s the only public primary school in the community providing education for about nine other communities. Also, hundreds of people converge on the school field during the weekend either for reception of guests or for other social activities. The school field is also a hub for soccer-loving youths-many of whom either play or watch early morning football being played on the school field every weekend.
OUR MISSION TO THE SCHOOL
It was a Friday afternoon, and the time was 1:30pm when I and a fellow colleague arrived the school premises. The school had closed but we caught up with a teacher. The teacher had just finished writing weekend assignment for some of the pupils in primary six. My mission was clear, it was to unearth the truth about the agony of the pupils of Islamic mission primary school who have no access to water and toilet facilities. I disguised as an undergraduate in one of the tertiary institutions writing a research project on: ‘The challenges facing public primary schools in Oyo State.’ I knew disclosing my mission as a reporter may send a warning signal to the teacher who may decline speaking to me because of fear of ‘constituted authorities.’ Not too long, the conversation began slowly and the teacher, with a sense of humour and sarcasm, spoke his mind on the state of neglect of the school by concerned authorities.
‘‘The school environment is not conducive for learning at all, you can see everywhere for yourself,’’ he said. He raises his head up and scans the classroom from the rooftop to the window, shaking his head slightly in sheer pity.
‘‘It is not an environment that is conducive for learning, we have about 70 pupils in this class, and ordinarily, the pupils should not exceed 40 pupils per class,’’ he said.
THE PUPILS STRUGGLE IN SEARCH OF CLEAN WATER
A major challenge confronting the pupils of Islamic Mission Primary school is lack of water. Pupils usually go out of the school in search of water to drink. Sometimes, they walk 100 meters away from the school vicinity combing the street in search of water to drink. The only well dug in the school premises lack water. The well is just four-ring deep beneath the earth and therefore it does not have the capacity to supply the needed water that would be sufficient for about 400 pupils in the school. During dry season, it is always dry and without any water.
Since the well was dug in 2008, there has not been any effort by the government, the school or the communities to provide the pupils of the school with clean water.
When asked how the teachers also cope with non-availability of water in the school, he said:
‘‘We all find our way of getting water. The well is just four rings and therefore cannot supply us water,’’ he said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 3.4million people die annually as a result of water related diseases, making it a leading cause of disease and death around the world. Statistics from WHO says forty percent of the world’s 7.6billion population have no acceptable means of sanitation, and more than 1 billion people draw their water from unsafe sources.
Diarrhoeal remain a leading cause of illness and death in developing world. Every year, about 2.2 million people die from diarrhoeal, 90% of these deaths are among children, mostly in developing countries.
INACCESSIBLE TOILET: A LOOMING DISASTER OF EPIDEMIC
The state of the toilet in the school is appalling. Decomposing human faeces littered the ground and the stench pervaded the toilet vicinity. The toilet had been abandoned by the pupils because there is no water to clean-up after use. Aside from the foul smell, the loo area parade heavy presence of refuse from loo papers, used pampers, cellophane bags, shredded cloths among other refuse.
THE DANGERS OF HAND-TO-MOUTH DISEASE
The implication of non-availability of clean water and toilet facilities in Islamic primary school is that the pupils are at high risk of contacting water borne diseases. Similarly, flies can transfer virus with their legs from excrement that littered the toilet vicinity and can pass it on to the pupils.
According to United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), one gram of faeces can contain up to 10 million viruses, one million bacteria, 1000 parasite cysts and 100 eggs. Just a little amount of faeces can cause sickness and death. If adequate care is not taken by the government and other concerned authorities to provide safe drinking water for students of Islamic Mission Primary School, the problem at hand in the school might just be a looming disaster of epidemic waiting to explode.