AFTER enduring decades of poor and decrepit classrooms and the general lack of sundry appurtenances in their school, pupils of Baptist Elementary School, Ile-Ife and members of Ilare Community recently thronged the premises of the school to witness the commissioning of the once decrepit structure, now an ultra-modern facility courtesy of the Osun state government.
The newly transformed school, now also plays host to Anglican Central School A&B; St John’s School A&B; Local Authority Elementary School as well as the host school.
Part of the structures that make up the new school include 25 classrooms, offices for two head teachers, two staff rooms, one facility manager’s office, a multipurpose hall, food court, library, sickbay, 12 toilets for pupils, four toilets for teachers, recreational zone and a security house. And from an initial total enrollment of 162, the school now accommodates about 1000 pupils.
Established in 1925 by the Ilare First Baptist Church, the school was taken over by the government in 1975 and has since suffered series of setbacks. Its infrastructure had decayed while quality of teachers remained poor. Eighty-year-old, Pa Amiel Fagbulu, who was part of the arrangement when the government took over schools in 1975 through a decree said: “Anyone who knows what it means for a child to be seated and learning in a pleasant environment cannot but rejoice with those state governments that are bending backwards to provide first-class physical facilities for the children to learn in.”
He further described as heroic and great commitment, any government’s decision to take up the challenge of putting up many purpose-built learning institutions across a state as large as Osun, and at the same time provide food, uniform and instructional materials.
“These children have no reason to yell now because they are provided with almost everything that they need to enjoy learning and securing their future. The quality and quantity of teachers have been assured; parents have also been relieved of the burden of paying for a thousand and one things for their children’s education and children have not had it so good in Nigeria since independence. They should therefore guard what they have been given on a platter of gold jealously,” he stated.
Governor Rauf Aregbesola, in his remarks stated that by design and purpose, the new school buildings are not for Muslims or Christians neither are they for adherents of any other religion. His word: “They (school buildings) are for all children of Osun, regardless of their circumstances of birth. This I expect should be the basis upon which government should be engaged and encouraged. The education of our children should not be a subject for petty squabbles or unhealthy politics about our narrow interests. Indeed, if we are genuinely interested in the future of our children, we should bury our narrow concerns of today in order to assure for them a glorious tomorrow.”
According to the governor, preparing children for the future is a responsibility that must be fulfilled by all. “It is one for which we will never be forgiven if we fail in its fulfillment. The world around us is moving on and at a pace that leaves no room for lack of seriousness or half-measures, especially with regard to education.” Aregbesola, who asserted that the world has been changed radically by technology in the last 20 years hence, “woe betide a nation or a people that is not prepared for this change.
“This is why we remain unflinchingly focused on giving the best education to our children in a most conducive learning environment. Since we began the journey a little over three years ago, we have recorded significant achievements that give us the courage to press on,” he added.
On the progress made so far in the education sector, he said that the state has added 10,407 new teachers to the list of public school teaching staff, thereby taking the total 12,715 teachers in primary schools and 7,848 teachers in secondary schools in the state.
According to him, this amounts to a 54.8 per cent increase in the number of public school teachers inherited, in addition to the same non-teaching staff, whose number has also increased by 564. Also, he noted that the salaries and pensions of primary and secondary school teachers now costs the government N16.8b and N10.3b respectively on an annual basis.