By Abavo Kingsley, Benin

 

 

Relics of the school and premises taken over by herdsmen

Relics of the school and premises taken over by herdsmen

Once vibrant Edaiken Grammar School, Okhuahe founded in 1965 and one of the oldest in Uhunmwode Local Government Council Area, Edo State, is now almost in extinction.

A visit to the school revealed another sad tale of government notoriety for abandonment of its properties and negligence of responsibilities.

The only indication that a very big school of high standard once existed at the location are relics of buildings; hostels, laboratory, classrooms, suspended water tanks e. t. c, that have been overtaken by forest.

Now, the site is home to various animals even a grazing field to cattle herdsmen who have seized a good proportion of the compound not fearing resistance from any quarter.

Nobody could say for certain at what point the school was abandoned and for what reasons and now, the teachers carry out daily administrative functions of the school from under the trees.

The school which has undoubtedly contributed its fair share to the production of high quality human resource that presently  occupy important position of authority across various sectors of the Nigerian economy, had its science laboratory building inaugurated for use on 11 March, 1972 by the then Hon. Commissioner for Education, Mr. O. O. Akpata.

The school which had huge students’ population in its days of glory now has just about 80 students in its junior section, while the senior section has about 350 students and about 100 students have been enrolled for this year’s West African Examination Council (WAEC) SSCE; Principal, Senior Secondary School who do not want his name in print claimed.

Presently, there are no record of documents representing the past in the school as part of the wall of the administrative building had fallen off, while the door to what used to be the Principal’s office had repeatedly been broken into by miscreants.

“Door to the Principal’s office was repeatedly broken by miscreants and a lot of documents have been lost in the process. Even now, the school is exposed to constant invasion by all manner of deviants.

“Hence, we can’t say for sure what documents have been lost, our source lamented.”

What remained of the school was half fallen administrative block, and only three classrooms with the roof already fallen off.

 

Renovation work in progress

Renovation work in progress

Edaiken Grammar School supposed to be serving Okeze, Irhimwon, Ugha, Aduhan, and other adjoining communities were it to be in its original state like the days of old.

However, there seems to be a glimpse of hope that rescue finally is coming as the Class of 1982 students of the school are carrying out a holistic renovation of a six classroom block which they termed; ‘bailout intervention in the interim’ to enable the current  session run smoothly.

Also, the administrative block is being renovated by the host communities of the school; Okeze and Ugha Okhuahe. This is as they call for the urgent intervention of the Edo State Government.

Head, Okeze Community, Odionwere Pullen Aiguobarueghian told our correspond dent that he observed the school was almost in extinction so he conferred with his counterpart at Ugha Okhuahe Community on how to revive it.

Though they have notified the State Government about the school sorry state, in the interim both host communities decided to embark on renovation of the administrative block to prove a point.

Also, to convince the State Government that they as host communities are truly worried about the school’s pathetic state and very serious to seeing it revived, Pa. Aiguobarueghian asserted.

Head girl, Class of 1982; Florence Ede Enogieru now Mrs. Florence Osagie also spoke with our correspondent.

She said during their time, the school operated boarding house system for students and the population was huge.

There was an underground hostel for the girls while boys’ hostel somewhere behind the Principal’s office also existed.

The school had social amenities like electricity, and pipe – borne water. Everything was fine. There were a lot of teachers too with one Mr. Agbonkhai as the Principal while in 1977 when they gained admission into the school; one Mr. Illekhuoba was the Principal.

The Class of 1982 graduated 120 students while the girls’ hostel had about 200 boarding students. This was apart from the population in boys’ hostels and day students, put together.

Mrs. Osagie informed that two years ago, somebody shared on Facebook video of the very sorry state of the school. “The video went viral among us on Facebook” she said and hence, the Class of 1982 met in April, 2016 to deliberate on what they could do to salvage the situation.

She said they had to send an inspection team to bring them on the spot assessment of the present state of the school and there was no adjective to describe the findings when the report came.

“That the school was going into extinction was even an understatement. There are no more classrooms let alone desks and chairs for the students, no office, and the teachers sit under trees.”

It was at this point that they decided as a group to come see the situation for themselves.

“So, on the 14 January, 2017 my class; set of 1982, we came here, it was on a Saturday, we went round and we saw that there was no more school here.

And the buildings were all gone, no classrooms, no offices even I doubt if our certificates or records can still be traced that we were once students of this School. The whole compound has turned a forest and teachers now sit under tree as their office.”

That is why some members of Class of 1982 students, 10 in number decided to do something urgently as a bail out and the result; is a holistic renovation of a block of six classrooms.

Mrs. Osagie disclosed that the entire Class of 1982 is putting heads together to further salvage the situation, after the renovation.

“We want to see how we will be able to reach out to the government because this school is named after the royal family so it should not be allowed to go into extinction.”

She claimed that the school has produced a lot of great personalities for the country that  are now captains of industries, Vice – Chancellors, generals in the military e. t. c.

“So, we are going to reach out to them, we are going to cry out. It is just that the Class of 1982, we have just decided to put it upon ourselves to reach out that this school, we do not want just a renovation, but a holistic upgrade to become a modern school”.