Once a lively place of learning, the Community Primary School in Tewure-Iju, Oyo State, now stands quiet and broken. Since its inception on June 1, 1993, it was a place where children from Tewure-Iju and nearby villages found their first taste of education. But today, it tells a tale of neglect and near abandonment.
Najeem Mudathir, 29, a former student, remembers a time when classrooms buzzed with activity. The school was more than just a place of learning; it was a part of the community’s identity, even serving as a polling unit in local elections. But now, it stands as a reminder of what used to be.
“The current status of my alma mater is exactly the opposite of how it was during our own time. It needs good buildings and qualified teachers to regain its lost glory,” said Najeem Mudathir, who graduated from the school in 2005.
Mr. Najeem believes that primary education is the foundation of formal education; his worry is that the foundation is collapsing. “Meanwhile, the only way we can help children’s future in our community is to provide good and standard education for them.”
Founded exactly three decades ago, it serves pupils from more than 10 neighboring communities, including Idiya, Aboyo, Elebe, Eleminla, Aladere, Onigba communities among others.
When The Liberalist visited the school, the signs of neglect were clear. Only one teacher, Mrs Olawuyi, was left to teach the students, a task too big for one person. Of the two buildings, one had fallen apart, now home to wild snakes and rodents, and the other is dilapidated.
From Mr Najeem’s narration, the school was not always like that. Flashback to 2005, the area now dilapidated was bustling with pupils and teachers, walking around classes.
“There was a time when the classrooms did not contain us due to our population. The community lent us some buildings so as to make teaching and learning possible,” recalled Mr Najeem.
Everytime he thinks about the state of the school, one question always pops into his head. How did the school get to this devastating state? He may not have the answer, but Mr. Mathew Oyekale, the chairman of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association, or PTA, does.
Mr. Oyekale said things started falling apart when the two personnel—a headmaster and a teacher— the governemnt sent to the school stopped showing up. So when students played throughout the learning period because there was no teacher, they finally dropped out of school.
Oyekale said the community wrote several letters to the state government, voicing their concerns, and the only response they got was a group of personnel who visited the school in September 2022 to take pictures of the buildings. But nothing was done.
The school was about plugging into oblivion when the parent-teacher association of the school called for a meeting in 2020 and agreed to employ a teacher at the group’s expense.
When the new teacher came to the school, one of the challenges was that most of the pupils have already stopped going to school. So, the first task for Mrs Olawuyi, the new teacher, was to devise tactics to bring back the students to class.
“I started going house-to-house to call them back to school,” narrated Mrs Olawuyi. “I met only 15 students in the school, at present there are more than 80.
“The problem facing the school is not only the collapsed building but also the lack of teachers.”
Though members of the Tewure-Iju community primary school’s PTA are mid-and-low income earners, mostly local farmers, Mr. Oyekale said their passion for education is unmatched. And that was the reason they are committed to keeping the school alive at all cost.
However, the parents admitted that employing a teacher is not enough to restore the old glory of the school. “We really need active teachers and new buildings to make the education system upright,” he said.
Oyo Government’s Report Contradicts Reality
Statements within the Oyo state government have painted a promising picture of the education sector, a stark contrast to the ground realities observed in some rural communities like Tewure-Iju. According to a report, the commissioner for education asserted the significant strides the administration of Oyo state governor ‘Seyi Makinde has made in revamping the education sector over a span of three years. Obviously, this development did not make it to Tewure-Iju.
We tendered our findings to the Oyo State Government Feedback (OYSGfeedback) team, and they assured that the report would be escalated to the relevant authorities, with plans in the pipeline to rehabilitate and construct more schools in the governor’s second tenure.