Francis Sardauna chronicles the conditions of Kewa Primary School in Katsina State where 280 pupils learn inside dilapidated classrooms
The Kewa Local Education Authority Primary School, located a few kilometers away from Katsina, the Katsina State capital, caters to pupils from several indigent families in Kewa and Kaladu communities of Batagarawa Local Government Area of the state.
The communities, unlike others in the local government, are still far from civilization. Apart from the deplorable road leading to the communities and the school, the houses depict a typical rural area. It is appalling that residents who ply the road daily have accepted the rough rides on motorcycles as their fate, as it has remained the same for many years.
However, the 17-year-old school with only one block of two classrooms has 15 desks for its population of 280 pupils with its roof completely taken off by rainstorm since May 11, 2015. And six to seven pupils sit on a bench meant for two pupils.
The school which was built by the community before it was later handed over to the state government has no staffroom and so teachers are forced to sit outside the classroom block to hold meetings and prepare for the day’s lessons.
Our correspondent, who visited the school on July 24, 2019, observed that most of the pupils sit on the bare floor to learn for lack of adequate chairs and desks. There is also the deficiency in staff strength as only one class teacher caters for the six combined-classes with the assistance of the headmaster.
Apparently, one can say that the pupils are unhappy and unmotivated by the poor state of infrastructure in their school, as they sit clustered in an open roof surrounded by planks and other harmful objects.
Similarly, classes are usually ended once it begins as parents rush to pick their children for fear of flooding.
Mr. Ibrahim Gide, a resident of the community whose two kids are attending the school, told our correspondent that “You can see for yourself that even animals are not supposed to be kept here, let alone children acquiring knowledge.
“This environment is not conducive to learning, because the kids can easily be exposed to danger. Even snake can crawl into the classes without the knowledge of anyone. When it rains, you see parents rushing to the school to get their wards because the classrooms will be flooded,” he stated.
“I cannot mention how many times we have forwarded our complaints to the government through the Local Council. We have also prepared written complaints which we submitted at the Education Secretariat in Katsina. Each time, they told us that they were going to attend to us soon.”
A primary three pupil of the school, Tasi’u Muhammed said: “I am not always happy receiving lesson under the scorching sun and a dilapidated structure. I have been sitting on the floor without furniture for two years.”
While calling on Governor Aminu Bello Masari to rehabilitate the school, Muhammed added, “Any time I sit on the floor to write, I will start having pains all over my body. The environment is not good for us to learn.”
When contacted, the headmaster of the school, Mr. Hussaini Tijani, said the school was not abandoned by the government, claiming it has assessed the situation of the school and will soon begin the renovation.
He said: “The state government through Batagarawa local education authority had set up an assessment committee on the damage of the school, and the committee has concluded its assessment and work will commence soon. In fact, they came to the school even this morning.”
The head teacher, however, called on the state government to employ additional teachers in the school in order to enhance effective learning.
He said, “We have 280 pupils in this school. So, there is need for additional teachers as two of us cannot give them the desired knowledge.”
Aside from the dilapidated school structure, other humanitarian needs such as road, hospital, potable water and electricity are alien to the two communities (Kaladu and Kewa), as they share their only source of drinking water, which is a nearby stream, with their cattle.
The Village Head of Kewa, Muhammadu Gide, claimed that pleas by the communities to the state government to renovate the school and provide other social amenities plaguing the community fell on deaf ears.
He explained, “We have been sending our complaints to the state government through the chairman of Batagarawa Local Government but nothing has been done up to this moment. The roof of our primary school was removed since 2015 but nothing has been done. Ten of us recently met the education secretary of Batagarawa on the same issue but nothing has been done.
“Our second problem here is water. The well here dries up. The nearest to having water is a stream but it is the same stream that our cattle drink from. So if we don’t go to the stream very early enough, we won’t be able to access water. We all know that it is not hygienic that our cattle drink from the same stream we also drink from.”.
On electricity, the community leader lamented that his community had not enjoyed electricity supply even as some efforts were made about seven years ago towards providing power but was later abandoned.
He said when election approaches, politicians would be visiting and making promises to the community to provide the people with infrastructure, “but once we have voted them and elections are over, they forget us”.
The community leader added, “We have been voting since the return of democracy in Nigeria but we don’t have a single dividend of democracy in this community. Due to these problems that we are facing in this community, my subjects and I have agreed to vote only candidates that would address our problems.”
Another indigene of the community, Yiro Akanu, also decried the suffering they faced due to lack of potable water supply, electricity, and access roads.
He also called on the state government to construct a feeder road from Tashar Kaladu to Kewa, saying the communities of the area relied solely on road to transport their farmer produce to Katsina market.
“We are finding it very cumbersome to link with neighbouring communities, particularly during the rainy season due to the dilapidated nature of our roads. We are also appealing to Batagarawa Local Education Authority to renovate and construct additional classrooms at Kewa primary school.
“The school was constructed many years ago, but it has only one block of two classrooms. Therefore, we are appealing to Governor Aminu Bello Masari to come to our rescue by constructing more classrooms in the school for effective learning to take place,” he explained.
Similarly, a lack of primary healthcare centre (PHC) in the communities is the reason the over 500 residents would rather love to take herbs to heal their illness and use midwives for child deliveries, as explained by Mrs. Hafsat Sanusi, a mother of five.
She said life is unbearable for women in the communities.
“There is no Primary Healthcare centre here. Women in these villages depend on God and traditional birth attendants for delivery. It was a traditional birth attendant that helped me with the delivery of this baby I am holding,” Sanusi told THISDAY.
She affirmed that after delivery, they give the traditional birth attendants some token in appreciation, saying, “The only time we face challenges is when things want to go out of hand.”
According to Mrs. Sanusi, aside from other water-borne diseases, malaria infection had been a major scourge for them, as there is no primary healthcare centre around to seek treatment.