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Lagos College Reels Under Overcrowded Hostels, Dirty Environment

Pupils of the Lagos State Model Junior College, Ojo, are contending with poor infrastructure, Olaleye Aluko reports.

Lagos College Reels Under Overcrowded Hostels, Dirty Environment
The boys’ hostel
Inset: The scattered mattresses and pillows and The makeshift bathroom and toilet

From a distance, the Lagos State Model Junior College, Ojo, looks like an ideal citadel of learning. Its gates and fence are a beauty to behold. Even the “model” attached to the school’s name is an attraction on its own.

The college has enough and sizable well-painted classrooms. Also, there are spacious playgrounds for its hundreds of pupils, who are all boarders. Add this to the large number of teachers, one would easily conclude that the institution must be a place to be.

But beyond all these, there are still hurdles in actualising qualitative education in the school. In fact, for pupils of the college, learning and living in a right and healthy environment seems to be a luxury of sorts.

There is nothing to cheer, considering the conditions in the boys’ hostels. The hostels are not just overcrowded,they are also unkempt. Besides, there are no standard bathrooms and toilets, as the boys defecate in a makeshift latrine in the premises.

The latrine, covered with planks, interestingly also serves as a bathing place for the pupils.

Little wonder, the offensive odour around the scene leaves one to wonder how the pupils are coping with the situation.

Our correspondent gathered that the living condition in the hostels is a big source of concern to parents. For instance, it was learnt that the boys’ hostel accommodates a far number of pupils.

A source told our correspondent that one of the hostels prepared for Junior Secondary School 1and 2 pupils now “husbands” no fewer than 200 pupils.

The hostel for the JSS 3 pupils is also facing a similar condition. In the boys’ hostel, the pupils’ lockers and boxes contend with the little space, in the hall, leaving their occupants to be perpetually hanging around, as it were.

The bungalow, partitioned into two sections, also has a few double-bunk iron beds in the first section. Instead of a modern building with spacious rooms, it is an old unpainted structure with wooden windows and roofs that are vulnerable to windstorm during rainfall.

When our correspondent visited the school last Sunday, a junkyard environment stared him in the face, particularly in the boys’ hostels. The pupils’ mattresses and pillows were not only in the sun, they were also in a disorderly manner.

One of the boys, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity narrated how they sleep at night.

He said, “Most of our mattresses are outside in the open fields. The housemasters usually ask us to pack them in by between 8 and 9pm when we are about to sleep. Then, they come back around 5am and ask us to move them out again. This is the custom.”

It is learnt that pupils, in the daytime, due to the heat and rowdiness in the hostels, prefer to hang around their classrooms where they sometimes take their siesta.

Concerned over their children’s plight, parents, who came for visitation to the school last Sunday, gathered under a tree shade to discuss some of the challenges facing the college. Numbering about 50, the parents particularly noted that they were not happy with the state of affairs in the hostels.

The parents, who alleged that officials in the school kitchen were starving the children, giving them breakfast around 11.00am, and in ridiculous quantities, also demanded to see the school principal, simply called Mr. Salton, to address their grievances.

One of them, obviously annoyed, said, “I cannot recognise my daughter again. Her face has become gaunt due to negligence on the part of the school authorities.”

Another parent added in frustration, “When I was young, I attended a boarding school too, and I felt things were still good like I had in my days. That was why I brought my son here, but it is unfortunate that our children are treated as if they were orphans.”

However, one of the housemasters, simply identified as Mr. Olorunfemi, promised the parents that the authorities would soon correct some of the lapses.

He said, “Pupils henceforth would be asked to adequately monitor how their foodstuffs are being cooked. They will have representatives in the school kitchen who will act like watchdogs.”

Some parents also drew attention to a newly constructed six-room apartment within the school, which according to them, is to serve as the new boys’ hostel. The facility is at present not in use.

At the Sunday emergency meeting, our correspondent learnt that parents and guardians contributed N2,500 each to renovate a section of the boys’ hostel.

Indeed, carpenters were on site working on the building last Sunday.

Reacting to the development, the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, who said her ministry was aware of the situation, promised that the problems would be resolved soon.

In a text message to our reporter, she wrote, “Thank you for the observation. I am quite aware, and we will deal with it very soon.”

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