New Academic Session

…School Heads in Awka Lament Neglect, Others Optimistic

By Michael Nnebife

It was mixed feelings of anger for neglect, and optimism for achieving academic excellence among the primary and secondary school heads in Awka the Anambra State Capital, when Fides visited some schools in the area to ascertain their preparedness for the just commenced 2023/2024 Academic Session.

The schools include Igwebuike Grammar School; Iyiagu Primary School; Ezinator International School; and Nadora Memorial Nursery and Primary School. Others are National Secondary School, Awka; and Community Primary School, Nise.

The visit showed that usual pre-resumption activities, such as staff meetings, cleaning of classrooms and offices, among others, were carried out in all the schools. In some of the schools, students were not seen as at 11 am on Monday, 18 September, a situation, some of the school heads attributed to the usual Monday sit-at-home in the South East Region, while others said it was the normal truancy characterizing early days of school resumption in the area.

In the public schools, the heads could not hide their displeasure that all was not well, even though they expressed readiness and determination to serve, despite the odds.

Speaking to the press, the Principal, Igwebuike Grammar School, Jovita Arazu, said, ‘There are no teaching materials; we had exhausted the ones we had before we went on holidays.’

When asked how the school was to go about the situation, the principal said, ‘You spend your personal money to buy the materials. If you don’t do that, your school wouldn’t go, or when you are tired, you tell them (government) that you don’t want to be a principal again.’

In the area of human resources, he said there was no way they could be satisfied with the number of teachers, noting that they had about 44 teachers for over 30 classes, which, he said, was not enough.

Arazu, who is also the President of All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools, however appealed to the government to recruit more teachers.

At Ezinator International Primary School, the narrative was the same. The headmistress, Chinenye Aguh, who said she used her personal money to effect some palliative work on the falling roofs of some of the classroom blocks, as well as the parameter fence, to ensure the school continued to operate, said she had laid series of complaints as regards the challenges the school faced, to relevant authorities, but all to no avail.

At Iyiagu Primary School, the tale was also not different. The cracks on the walls, leaking roofs, and falling ceilings inside the office of the headmistress, Mrs Abigail Omenkwu, were an eyesore.

Like Arazu and Aguh, Mrs Omenkwu said she used personal money to procure some resource materials, do maintenance work, such as clearing of grasses, for the overall interest and comfort of the school pupils and the teachers.

The headmistresses however appealed to public spirited individuals, groups, all lovers of education, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, his Anglican counterpart, to come to the aid of the schools.

On her part, the Headmistress, Community Primary School, Nise, Obiageli Anunobi, shared similar narratives as Aguh and Omenkwu, lamenting the poor condition of some facilities such as toilets, students’ seats, among others.

However, at National Secondary School, and Nadora Memorial Nursery and Primary School, the narrative was different.

The Principal, National Secondary School, Mr Christian Ebe, and the Headmistress, Nadora Memorial Nursery and Primary School, Mrs Esther Ogbodo, expressed optimism and readiness to achieve results and set goals in the academic session, saying that necessary arrangements in the areas of resource materials and workers’ welfare, had been put in place for successful academic activities.

Mr Ebe said, ‘We have made arrangements to ensure that we deliver effectively as usual. We have gotten everything we need to work with – the stationery are already there; the library has already been stocked; we have been able to get the chemicals and every other thing that is needed in the laboratory….

‘We have also fixed all that needed to be fixed – fans, broken windows, among others, just to make sure that we provide a conducive learning atmosphere for the students,’ he stated.

For her part, Mrs Ogbodo said the management had put in place many things to make the environment more conducive for the children.

‘We have painted our classrooms, both in and out; fixed all spoiled chairs; and decorated the classrooms to make them conducive for teaching and learning.

Ogbodo and Ebe further appealed to the governments to extend whatever palliative packages for their counterparts in the public services to the workers in the private sector, particularly those in education, considering the fact that they were taxpayers and contributed more in building the future of the nation.