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SPECIAL REPORT: Health Crisis At MAPOLY: Students Forced To Sit On Floors, Open Defecation As Last Resort 

Hope Shattered Due to Prolonged Result Delay

Campus Insecurity Alert: Herders’ Cows Roaming Freely, Endanger Students

 

In the heart of Abeokuta, Ogun State, within Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), a young lady, Favour Ashaolu battled not just for knowledge but for survival.

Ashaolu is just one of many students battling the unforgiving challenges of Nigeria’s public education system.

MAPOLY, like many Nigerian public schools, lacked essential facilities. FAWAZ ADEBISI writes on how MAPOLY students struggle, as they face health, physical and psychological hazards on campus.

Dilapidated chairs in MAPOLY Mass Communication department

As an asthma patient, Favour shared her harrowing experience of almost suffocating during lectures.

Inside her cramped classroom, over a thousand students gather daily, gasping for breath in a stifling environment.

With no good chairs, no working fans, and no hope, they inhale the collective exhale of their peers.

Dilapidated chairs In the MAPOLY Lecture room

For Ashaolu, this ordeal is especially perilous.

“I constantly struggle to breathe,” she confides, as the lone sanctuary, a classroom window, offers the only ventilation.

“The air conditioners don’t function,” she laments.

Ogun State, over the past three years, had inefficiently funded its education sector, below the 26% recommended by UNESCO, as revealed by budget documents released by the state government.

In 2020, it decreased to N91.609 billion, accounting for approximately 21.64% of N449.974bn.

In 2021, it dropped to N58 billion, representing 17.1% of N339 billion, meanwhile, in 2022, 16%, N56.07 billion, of the total budget, N350.74 billion, was allocated to the education sector.

How Ogun Funded Education Sector In Three Years

 

This underfunding had cast a long shadow over institutions like MAPOLY, where students like Favour struggled to thrive despite the odds.

“We Sit On Floors To Receive Lectures”

MAPOLY Buss. Admin Students In Class Receiving Lectures

Amidst the bustling campus, Taiwo Omotosho, a second-year Pharmaceutical Technology student, shared a story that resonates with many.

Omotosho spoke of the countless times she and her fellow students had found themselves seated on the floor.

Despite having classrooms with a capacity for fewer than 300 students, some were forced to stand through entire lectures due to a dire lack of suitable seating.

Olubori Akinsanya, a first-year Mass Communication student, revealed an even more staggering statistic – a mind-boggling 1,200 students crammed into his classroom.

According to him, the chairs, or what remained of them, offered little respite, compelling many to huddle outside during lectures.

Akapo Segun, another student, shrouded in anonymity to share his classroom’s woeful state.

Dilapidated Chairs in MAPOLY Computer Engineering Department

No relief from the sweltering heat, no fan to stir the stifling air, he said, adding that he and his friends rushed out after lectures, gasping for fresh air.

Visiting classes in other departments, Business Administration, Computer Engineering, Art & Design, among others, in the institution, almost all swallowed by overgrown foliage, casting a shadow of neglect.

The institution’s sports facilities, too, bore the scars of neglect.

MAPOLY Football Field

Johnson Olaniyi, an aspiring basketball player, bemoaned the abandonment of the sports centers, his dreams of slam dunks and three-pointers crushed beneath the weight of dilapidation.

MAPOLY Basketball Court

“I love playing basketball, I’m a tall guy, but I’m restricted as the sports centers to use are abandoned with no facilities,” Olaniyi lamented.

Students Fear Disease Outbreak, Take Open Defecation As Option

A toilet in MAPOLY

“Unless I’m in a critical situation, I don’t use the toilet,” Shifau Muhammed, a student of the institution said, a poignant depiction of the dire state of these facilities.

Constantly tarnished by filth and bereft of water for cleansing, Muhammed hesitated to use the toilets, resorting to desperate alternatives.

Another Toilet In MAPOLY For Students Use

Research showed that using unclean public toilets might lead to toilet infection, E. coli, Salmonella, noroviruses, hepatitis A, and influenza.

Alas, these grim prospects shadowed almost every restroom in MAPOLY, reeking and tainted, threatening students’ well-being.

Even Favour Ashaolu, already grappling with asthma, lamented the wretched condition of the restrooms, deeming them perilous to her health due to the overpowering odors.

Her survival instincts lead her to a nearby friend’s house for relief, whenever she is pressed.

Another Dirty Toilet In MAPOLY

Another student, Olubori Akinsanya, voiced his lament at the paucity of facilities, suitable classrooms, and decent toilets.

He mourned the abandonment of most toilets, forcing students to seek refuge in the bushes.

Akapo Segun, who resorted to nature’s call in the bush, vowed to forsake the toilets until they met hygiene standards.

According to a report by UNICEF Nigeria, Nigeria is among the nations in the world with the highest number of people practicing open defecation, estimated at over 46 million people.

The report showed that 703 of 771 local government areas in the country still suffer from open defecation.

The students therefore urged the management to provide running water and fix the toilets for use on campus.

 

How Students Dash Hope Over Delayed Results

In the ever-rolling calendar of life, Aminat Gusanu, a graduate adorned with a Mass Communication degree from MAPOLY, has found herself in an agonizing pause.

While the calendar pages flipped to September 2023, her journey into national service, slated for January, remained ensnared by the lingering absence of her result.

Her voice trembled with frustration as she shared her plight, “I am tired, others have embarked on their service year, but I remain grounded, waiting for my elusive result.”

Beside her, Afeez Jimoh echoed the refrain of missed opportunities.

His dreams of direct entry to another institution were held captive by the same shadow of belated results.

Shuaib Wasiu, too, mourned the bountiful chances he’d forfeited, scholarships, internships, and more, attributing the cause to the late release of results.

He also stressed that delayed results might have adverse effects on students’ self-esteem, as they could construe delays as signs of inadequate achievement, potentially dampening confidence and impeding their future academic endeavors.

A female graduate, who only disclosed her name as Marufat, painted a poignant picture.

Her parents, burdened with myriad responsibilities, hesitated to invest in her education, perpetually haunted by the unreleased result.

“When I ask my parents for the HND form fee,” she sighed, “she would ask me if my result is out, fearing financial scarcity when the verdict finally arrives.”

The graduates therefore urged the school management to ensure prompt and adequate release of their results.

Insecurity Poses Threat To Students As Herders Freely Breed Cows On Campus

Cows Roaming About On Campus

Ogun state signed the Anti-open Grazing bill into law in 2021, prohibiting cattle rearers from occupying unapproved public areas and private land with their livestock for grazing.

According to the law, offenders will be jailed if violated, as they will be compelled to give up their herds to serve as a deterrent to others.

However, amidst the legal framework aimed at curbing this practice, a disquieting reality unfolded within the hallowed grounds of MAPOLY, where herders continued to roam unchecked, seemingly immune to the law’s reach.

Cows Moving Towards Students’ Classroom

MAPOLY students have therefore kicked against this, as they lament the illegal operation of herders on campus.

A Muslim student, Yusuf Abdulazeez, who attends a night program in the school mosque narrated how fear gripped him when he suddenly saw a cow behind him while urinating.

In his words, a herdsman, with a cutlass, was with the cows and could do any harm to him as they were alone at that particular time.

“I was scared that day, they move with their cutlasses, these people should not be allowed on campus anymore, students might be in danger,” he said.

“We resume school every day to see cow faece on Campus around the school environment,” Muhammed, also lamented.

Cows Roaming About On Campus

She stressed that the institution is not the only place to graze their cows, saying that there are other places they could go.

Corroborating this, Taofeek Oseni, a student of the institution said “It was quite an irritating thing (cow faeces) to see.

He therefore advised the school management to restrict the herdsmen operation on campus, to avert possible future problems.

SUG Reacts

The MAPOLY Student Union Government, SUG, under the aegis of Hezekiah Adelola acknowledged the hardship students are facing to access toilets on campus.

The SUG President, Adelola, stated that his government is aware, as it has received complaints from students trying to access the toilet.

Adelola emphasized that not all departments have a toilet, but each school has one, which makes it difficult for students to locate it for use.

He added that to provide such a facility, the departmental fee should be responsible for carrying the larger burden while SUG supports them.

He therefore stated that the departmental executives have been contacted to find a solution to the problem.

He called on them to make the SUG aware of the challenges their students are facing, to find solutions to them

He said, “Most of the time, we don’t know what is going on inward, but we have meetings, and the department executives are the ones that should be giving us reports.”

He also pointed out that the management has a significant role to play in ensuring that the system works effectively.

Also, speaking on how some sports activities are going into extinction on campus, the SUG Sports Director, Comr. Adeniyi John called on sponsors to fund essential sports facilities on campus.

John revealed that the school management is finding it difficult to raise funds to manage abandoned sports centers.

He therefore appealed to the students as he said he hopes to revive every aspect of sports activity on campus.

The School Is Aware Of The Herders — MAPOLY CSO

The Chief Security Officer of MAPOLY, Adekoya Adekunle, said that the school management is aware of the herdsmen operations on campus, adding that they pose no security threat to students.

Adekunle explained that the school management has made efforts to put them off campus but all failed.

In his words, the management has reported to the state government traced the herdsmen, and met with their leader in Alagada, a neighboring community to the institution, who promised to caution them.

He also said the school is making efforts to resolve the issue and has gone as far as reporting to the government and inviting or reporting to the police.

He therefore urged students not to stone or fight them, adding that they only come around in the evening, after school.

He warned that if care is not taken, it can result in a crisis of what is called intertribal war.

Confirming whether the school is aware, the school Public Relations Officer, Yemi Ajibola, said efforts are still on to put them off campus.

“We have done so much to put them off the campus but they kept on coming, we have not stopped, we will continue reporting, and we will continue discussing with them, we’ll call on Hadi again, to come around and see what we can do, the Polytechnic management can only do little.”

“I will appeal to students to please accommodate them, don’t fight them, just avoid them as much as possible, the management is working to ensure that they stop coming to the campus,” he said.

Poor Funding, Reason For Inaccessibility To Conducive Learning Environment — MAPOLY PRO

Stating the reason for not providing a conducive learning environment, Mr Ajibola blamed poor funding by the government in the education sector.

Ajibola explained that the funds available to the school are nothing to talk about and that the school is being run by funds from its Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).

He lamented that every level of education in the country is suffering from a lack of funds, as there are no good infrastructures and facilities to be utilized by students and lecturers, adding that “MAPOLY is no exception.”

He stressed that no public institution would have infrastructural development if not for TETFUND, which plays a vital role in sustaining the institution.

According to him, the state government, though trying, had only done a bit, which is not sufficient to solve the institution’s problem.

He said, “We say there’s autonomy for institutions, but there’s nothing like autonomy because when you give autonomy, you must have given them enough subvention to take care of the school which is not available.”

Addressing the issue of unclean toilets, he directed the blame on the lack of water in the institution.

Therefore, he said the institution has come up with a policy of ‘a project, a borehole’ to tackle the challenge of inadequate water supply.

However, he stressed that inadequate provision of electricity would render the boreholes useless, as diesel and petrol are very costly to power them.

He therefore urged the government to look into the lack of funding in the education sector and make funds available for use.

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