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SPECIAL REPORT: Education Crisis Hits Ogun 80 Communities : Students Forced To Quit Studies As Transport Costs Push Labour

Abiodun’s Delay On Proposed Site Worsens Matters – Residents

 

Over 80 communities in Ogun State are grappling with a severe education crisis, resulting in a significant number of dropouts. Many students have resorted to temporary labour to fund their transportation from their communities to distant schools in the state.

PLATFORM TIMES Editor, DAUD OLATUNJI investigated villages, including Idi-Ori and 80 others in Abeokuta-North local government area, revealing a precarious situation marked by financial constraints and poor road conditions, raising concerns about a potential surge in dropouts.

…Idi-Ori, Owu’s Birthplace Unveiled

In the heart of Owu’s historical roots lies Idi-Ori, a village that cradled the community’s earliest footsteps in 1834. Baale Daud Adegboyega, a custodian of this legacy, passionately recounts the tale of Idi-Ori – the first haven that sheltered Owu’s pioneers before the diaspora to neighbouring lands.

Adegboyega vividly paints the landscape of Idi-Ori, the birthplace of Owu’s resilience. The village, though modest, holds the honor of being the cornerstone where Owu’s foundations were laid. In an era when land was sought after like a treasure, Idi-Ori emerged as the nurturing ground where Owu thrived before seeking new horizons.

As the custodian of this sacred history, Baale Adegboyega emphasizes the familial ties that bind the villages surrounding Idi-Ori. Abule Owu, Kipe, Oguntinu, Onifakun, Tolato, Anifa, Alapo, Elefun, Akinode, Eruku, Gbega – each name resonates with a shared heritage under the protective umbrella of Idi-Ori.

“Idi-Ori isn’t just a village; it’s the heartbeat of Owu’s journey,” Baale Adegboyega declares with pride. In an exclusive interview, he delves into the challenges faced by the early settlers, the camaraderie that defined their unity, and the eventual expansion that led to the formation of neighboring villages.

The story of Idi-Ori unfolds like a tapestry, weaving together the threads of perseverance, community, and a legacy that continues to thrive. Today, under the watchful eyes of Baale Daud Adegboyega, Idi-Ori stands not just as a geographical location but as a testament to the enduring spirit of Owu’s first settlers.

In this initial series, PLATFORM TIMES exposes the plight of residents of Idi-Ori, the first Owu settlement in Abeokuta, as they grapple with the challenges of a lack of secondary schools, compelling them to enroll their wards in distant schools in the metropolis.

Bridging Educational Gap: A Quest For  Public Secondary School In Idi-Ori

The situation became precarious when the fuel subsidy was removed by the government and has  consequently  shot up transport fares . 

PLATFORM TIMES gathered that a student  within the communities spends   N3,000 on transport alone on a daily basis while those who are a bit lucky, spend about  N1,000 daily.

Many parents could not however continue with the expenses and have either stopped the education of their wards or sent them to construction sites as labourers to work for transport fares for  two weeks and go to school for two weeks alternatively.

A case of an  SS two  student of Anglican Secondary school, Quarry Road, Abeokuta,  Ismail from Grace Community Development Association in Idi-Ori captures  the sorry state of things in the community .

In the serene expanse of Grace CDA, the pursuit of education has transformed into a costly endeavour for numerous students. 

Enter Ismail, a resolute SS Two student at Anglican Secondary School on Quarry Road, whose journey to education is marred by financial obstacles, notably, the arduous task of affording daily transport fares to and from school.

Recently, Ismail faced an unwelcome challenge in his educational journey. Familial financial strain forced him to barter textbooks for tools, thrusting him into the labour force in Ilaro, Yewa-South local government.

PLATFORM TIMES gathered that a compassionate neighbour stepped in, redirecting Ismail to his younger sibling, a bricklayer, for a two-week stint to amass the funds  for transport fares.

However, the consequences of these two weeks of missed classes loom ominously, particularly in SS Two—a critical term where West Africa Examination Council questions take precedence.

Ismail’s narrative, while poignant, reverberates with the struggles of numerous students in the  communities.

PLATFORM TIMES further gathered that the  recurring cycle of abandoning education to labour, returning to school, and subsequently relinquishing it due to financial constraints poses a formidable threat to the academic aspirations of countless young minds.

Ismail’s plight serves as a beacon, illuminating the broader issue of educational accessibility in Idi-Ori. 

The financial burden of daily transport fares erects a formidable barrier, propelling students like Ismail perilously close to forsaking their academic pursuits. It’s a relentless cycle that not only disrupts their studies but also imperils their chances of academic success, particularly during pivotal examination periods. This is a stark reminder of the urgent need for systemic change to break the shackles hindering the educational dreams of Grace CDA’s youth.

While speaking with PLATFORM TIMES,a resident said ” one student had to halt school attendance for two weeks due to the distant location of Anglican Secondary School on Quarry Road, several kilometers away. The parents couldn’t afford daily transportation. During this period, he worked for money and  resume school for another two weeks.

“My younger brother, presently working as a bricklayer in Ilaro, helped the boy engage in labour for two weeks. Unfortunately, this disrupted his class activities. 

“The concern is that this cycle may lead to a reluctance to return to school. In SS Two, during the term when WAEC questions are prepared, this interruption is particularly challenging. The student’s name is Ismail.”

Also,sharing the plights of the residents of the communities, a resident, Ogunbi Adeolu, a resident of  the community  that boasts of over 80 villages, each with its own unique charm, lamented  the lack of a secondary school in the communities.

Adeolu said from Idi-Ori to Koosha, spanning villages such as Dega, Akinode, Anifa, Alapo, Tolato, Eruku, Oshiele, Ajegunle, Koosha One, Koosha Two, Kipe, Ikajibefun, Teleberi, Daleko, Abule Orun, and Igboya among others, not a single secondary school graces the landscape. 

Yet, the resilience of these communities is palpable, bound together under the umbrella of the Abeokuta North Metro Community Development Committee (CDC), which comprises over 80 Community Development Associations (CDAs).

PLATFORM TIMES observed that in the absence of a secondary school, the primary educational lifeline for these communities is St. John Africa Primary School, a public institution that has stood since 1948. 

Recently renovated, it serves as the educational hub for the children of these villages, providing a foundation for their academic journey.

The challenges, however, become apparent when students reach the secondary level. The nearest secondary schools were  St. Peter College,Olomore; Gateway Secondary School, Ita-Iyalode,and Owiwi High School, Ewekoro demand a journey fraught with financial strain. 

It was further gathered that some students  attend  Lantoro High School,Oke-Lantoro, African Church Grammar school among others.

Adeolu sheds light on the economic burden, revealing that a child going from Idi-Ori to St. Peter may spend between N1,000 and N1,500. However, for those in Koosha, the figure skyrockets to no less than N2,000.

The cost of education, both in terms of money and effort, becomes a poignant issue for these communities. 

The absence of a secondary school within reach amplifies the disparities in access to quality education, painting a stark picture of the hurdles faced by the youth in pursuit of knowledge.

We pay N3,000  Transport fare daily on transportation-Parents

Two parents, Fumilayo Ojebiyi and Olalekan Ademola expressed their concerns as shared by countless families within the communities, struggling against the odds to provide a basic education for their children.

 Ojebiyi, a resilient mother, said she spends a substantial part of her daily budget on transportation for her children attending Anglican School in Paris road. 

“N3,000 a day just for transport,” she sighs. “Sometimes, if there’s no money, they miss skill classes, and it breaks my heart.” 

Fumilayo dreams of a local school that can spare her children the arduous journey and ensure consistent access to education.

Ademola echoes a similar sentiment. He said that his children attend Oke Lantoro High School, and the unpredictability of funds often determines their school attendance.

 “Even on foot,I spend up to N3,000 a day just to ensure they reach school. We need a secondary school here; it’s a plea for accessibility and opportunity,” Olalekan implores, highlighting the pressing need for governmental intervention.

“My name is Fumilayo Ojebiyi, and my children attend Anglican School on Quary  Road. I spend N3,000 daily on their transportation, and sometimes they miss skill classes if I can’t afford the transportation cost. 

“We appeal to the government to assist us in establishing a school in our vicinity.

“I’m Olalekan Ademola from Idi-Ori, and my children go to Oke-Lantoro High School; one attends Olobe ( Techincal. school) On days when there’s no money for transportation, they miss school. Even if they trek, I still spend up to N3,000 a day. I earnestly implore the government to help us establish a secondary school here.

“I know three families engaged in farming. During the cashless policy, they faced daily hardships with no access to financial resources. 

“To the extent that I contributed one thousand naira, and even this modest amount was greatly appreciated. Most of their children attend distant schools like Owiwi High School in Obada and Anglican Secondary School in Kwari. 

“We are grappling with serious issues, and we urgently request the government’s prompt response to the challenges we face.”

Amidst the plethora of private secondary schools, a stark reality persists, the Baale said not all parents could  afford the privilege.

He said that  Idi-Ori and its neighbouring villages in  a collective yearning are making a plea for accessible education. 

He said this  fuels a fervent desire for a public secondary school, a beacon of hope for countless families.

Standing on a three-hectare acquisition, earmarked for the proposed secondary school, the community envisions a future where education is not a luxury but a right.

The plot of land, obtained through collective efforts, serves as a testament to their commitment.

According to him, our plea to the government is simple: give assent for the construction to commence, ensuring that education becomes a reachable dream for all.

PLATFORM TIMES observed that the proposed school is not just a structure; it symbolizes a lifeline for those who currently traverse long distances to schools in neighboring villages. 

The desire is clear—to spare the children of Elepa (Ileshe-Awo side) from the arduous journey to Gosha village or the financial burden of commuting to distant St. Peter, Olomore, or Gateway secondary schools.

Speaking on the  primary school, he described it as  a testament to communal resilience,  which he said stands as evidence that the community is not solely relying on the government. 

He said “with individual contributions, we have acquired computers and constructed fences. 

“We want a public school to be built here,” echoes through the conversations, with the belief that a secondary school will act as a catalyst for positive change. 

He submitted that beyond academics, having a  public secondary school within th villages, promises safety, sparing lives lost in transit to distant schools. 

He said “the plea for government intervention is not just for education but also for the preservation of lives.

The Perils of Commuting: Community’s Struggle With  Neglected Road

Residents of the communities, from Joachim Tanpinnu to countless others, share a common grievance — a treacherous 14-kilometer stretch from Neuro-psychiatric hospital,Aro,Abeokuta fence to  Oshiele, one of the villages in the communities in Idi-Ori,

Tanpinnu  lamented, “the road is terrible, and we might spend nothing less than N10,000 on car maintenance. Some in our community don’t even drive anymore due to the havoc the road has wreaked on their vehicles.”

In a collective effort, the community attempted to alleviate the road’s woes. “We graded the road, but two months ago, after our efforts, the rain fell immediately, undoing all our hard work,” Joachim explained with a hint of frustration.

“We have close to 80 houses in our Community Development Association (CDA), and in Idi-Ori alone, we have about 46 CDAs”, Joachim, a civil servant, who  said this,also  highlighted the hefty fuel expenses, stating, “From Idi-Ori to Oke-Mosan, we spend N6,000 or N7,000 on fuel regularly.”

Segun, a concerned resident, highlighted the extensive erosion caused by numerous rivers along the route from Ilese Awo to Idi-Ori.

He lamented that these rivers did  not only damage the road but also pose a serious threat to the community’s accessibility.

Segun urged the government to intervene by implementing effective drainage systems.

 “If the government can help us with drainage, it will prevent the rivers from entering the road, providing much-needed relief to our community,” he emphasized. 

He further expressed concern about the deterioration of government-constructed bridges due to individual actions, warning that if left unaddressed, residents might be trapped in Idi-Ori during floods.

Adding to the urgency, Dele Omoyele shared the personal toll the road conditions have taken on the community.

He mentioned that several individuals had been forced to abandon driving altogether, while others chose to leave the communities due to the deteriorating roads. 

Some, he explained, left for health reasons and sought refuge in the city, further emphasizing the need for immediate government assistance.

The Bumpy Journey of Idi-Ori: A Call for Better Roads

Chief Adegboyega, the Baale, laments the sorry state of the roads that wind through his community.

 “It is disheartening,” he says, reflecting the collective frustration of the residents who had hoped for smoother travels. 

“We expect the government to act because we are part and parcel of the government subjects, but the unfortunate thing is that, as we were struggling to get the road done, the past government did not do anything.”

The road, once bustling with activity when the Federal Government had set up a one-stop shop in the area, now stands neglected. Chief Adegboyega recalls a time when optimism filled the air, believing that a good road would benefit the local farmers.

 However, those hopes were dashed when the road, initially constructed by an appointed individual, quickly faded away within a year. Since then, repairs have been elusive, leaving the community grappling with the consequences.

“If the road is done, a lot of things are coming out from Idi-Ori,” Chief Adegboyega emphasizes, highlighting the potential for growth and prosperity. “The road is too bad. It is not alright.”

Despite the challenges, the community has not been idle. Chief Adegboyega explains, “We have done a lot of things. We got in touch with the government, and they asked us to get a land, and we did.” However, the enormity of the task is evident, as he expresses the community’s inability to independently embark on the road project. 

“There are one or two sons of our community who have repaired two bridges, but the thing is too much for us. If the government can assist and respond to the yearnings of our people and taxpayers, we would not be ungrateful.”

The road’s deplorable condition has not only been a source of inconvenience but also a cause for concern due to numerous hazards. 

Chief Adegboyega outlines the dangers faced by commuters, “There have been lots of hazards – passengers falling off motorcycles because of the bad roads. If the road is good, people will come and do so many things.”

As the community of Idi-Ori continues to navigate the challenges presented by the dilapidated road, the collective plea is clear: a call for assistance from the government to pave the way for a safer, more prosperous future for all who call Idi-Ori home.

A Village’s Health Hub Struggles Amidst Growing Demand

In the heart of a cluster of villages lies a health center, a lifeline for the surrounding communities. 

Many residents of the communities pleaded for  the upgrade of  the only primary health centre serving the communities.

One of the medical workers who pleaded to remain anonymous due to the civil service rule of not speaking to the media, said “We don’t do operation here, we have five rooms here, one for delivery, ward, injection, we also sleep in one.’

A resident simply identified as Busari  while sharing his experience said “the health center that is here is somehow, one day my child injured himself with a  shovel  we took her to the health center, it took them so long before they attended to us,even before that they said we should go and buy what they will use to stich and other things.

Also sharing his thought,Pastor Adeyemi Victor, advised that  qualified medical workers are needed  in the health center.

He said “there was this person staying in our community, two months ago that their child was not feeling fine and they rushed the child to the health center, the health center rejected the girl and because of the bad road and the distance, eventually the girl died, so, I feel it’s one of the things we need to look at as a government, the distance and the road is poor 

“We will be glad if the government can do something about it.

“There are some people that go  miles away for treatment, some go as far as FMC and the distance is about an hour  drive, before you can get a good hand.

Others include Segun, Dele Ogunbiyi and  Ogunbiyi Adeolu all shared their nasty experiences with the PHC,calling the government to equip it with both equipment and  qualified staff.

The Baale of Idi-Ori, Adegboyega while sharing their efforts in the health facility in the area, saying,having recognised  the strain on the facility, he and other colleagues baale took it upon themselves to extend the center. 

He said the foundation was  laid, walls, but fate had other plans, lamenting that  the onset of Covid-19 and unforeseen challenges left the extension incomplete.

He added that amidst the uncertainty, the concerned Baales reached out to the local government then  chairman, Habeeb Ajayi, who reportedly initially pledged support.

 However, promises turned elusive, and the extension project remains in limbo. 

With a sincere plea, the Baales emphasize the critical need for this extension to better serve the influx of people, especially victims of accidents who find solace in the center.

Despite the incomplete structure, the health center stands as a testament to the dedication of its staff. Pregnant women receive essential care, and the committed personnel do their best in challenging circumstances. Yet, the plea echoes louder – the burden is too great for a community to bear alone.

“People will enjoy the facility if extended,” asserts one of the Baales.

The plea extends beyond the physical structure; it resonates with the urgent need for governmental intervention. 

The community faces a harsh reality – lives are lost due to delays caused by both the inadequate facility and the poor road conditions leading to the center.

The untapped potential of the extended health center is palpable.

 The foundation is laid, the structure stands in anticipation, and the staff yearn to offer more. It’s a beacon of hope waiting to be realized, a testament to the collective will of a community striving for better health.

The story of this health center is a microcosm of countless rural healthcare struggles.

 It embodies the resilience of communities facing adversity, pleading for the promise of a healthier future. 

The challenge now rests in the hands of those who can make a difference – a call for the local government to extend not just a building but a lifeline to those in need.

ADVICE TO GOVT 

Advising the government, Baale Adegboyega urged the to attend to their challenges. 

He said “we don’t want our hope to be shattered . We want  the government to respond quickly .To the people, they should be calm.”

The Local Government Chairman, Ayorinde AbdulSalam could nit be reached as of the time filing this report .

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