"Any people that is starved with books, especially the right type of books, will suffer intellectual malnutrition, stagnation and atrophy". Chief Obafemi Awolowo
The recent inspiring publication by Ika Weekly Newspaper dated July 11 2009 on the noble achievements of students of Gbenoba Grammar School Agbor was not unexpected. This is because it shows the utmost resilience of the young minds in achieving fame inspite of the militating decadence confronting them.
Gbenoba Grammar School has produced personalities whose commanding influence pervades different strata in the society since its inception many decades ago. Today, the school is in total disrepair. The once great citadel of learning is in shambles.
After the publication by Ika Weekly Newspaper, I undertook a voyage around my Alma Mater. The present reality on ground made me to weep uncontrollably. There were so many questions begging for answer on the total neglect of the famed Saint Columbus Grammar School. Like other government owned public schools in Ika land nay Nigeria, Gbenoba Grammar School is a mess on how not to manage centres of learning.
Imagine a school, I left eleven years ago degenerating to this level of decay shows the deliberate abandonment of public schools by the three tiers of government. It shows the gradual infliction of anomalies in the educational system in Nigeria.
During my days at Gbernoba Grammar School, there were Art and Science laboratories, studios, functional boarding system etc. Infact, it was in the school library that I read two books Blind Love by Boris Pasternak and The Man Died by Wole Soyinka which changed my life, to become an activist for a just society. The Literary Debating Society was vibrant in such a way that there was competition on the student that read the most books. Today, it is sad that the glories of yesteryears are no more.
The genesis of this rot started when the government infamously took over the public schools from the missionaries. It should be noted that ever since, the public schools have assumed total neglect due to the poor educational policies by the political rulers. How can a nation develop when her schools are perpetually in ruins? Barrack Obama, the president of America in an interview remarked "I love America where you do not need to be rich to go to school ? where education is given priority". But in Nigeria, the political rulers whose children are studying abroad neglect the public schools to suit the private schools owned by their cronies. What a shame.
Sadly as I write this piece, ASUU, SSANU, are on strike, the political rulers are unconcerned as long as they can afford to send their children overseas to study. To them, the poor should not go to school to avoid intellectual emancipation for the people. Most people in government today benefitted from Obafemi Awolowo?s purposeful educational policies. Yet, politics negates their sense of reasoning.
Certainly, this double standard approach to this issue of public schools is inimical to the advancement of technology in Nigeria. To ameliorate the situation in Gbenoba Grammar School and other public schools, the government should embark on intensive human and infrastructural development in schools, Teachers should be well paid to encourage their impartation of knowledge on the students. On the other hand, Old boys of the school throughout the universe should mobilize collectively to salvage the school from incipient ruin. And the deeper meaning of the school anthem will materialize for her continuous greatness.
Saint Columbus, Gbenoba
Agbor is our Alma mater
We are proud to belong to thee
Gbenoba Grammar School
We are boys, we are boys
We are known
For our greatness
We will maintain it to the last
Knowledge is power is our motto
We will uphold thee
We pray to our Lord God
To help us achieve our goals.
Ofie Chukwuka lives in Agbor, Delta State