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The Kwara State Government has reacted to a report by SaharaReporters on Thursday that the state primary school pupils were found, learning under the trees.
The government admitted that it was a common sight, seeing children learning under trees in the state due to the blacklist of Kwara State from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) grant from 2013 to 2019.
This was disclosed in a statement released by Chairman, Kwara SUBEB, Prof Sheu Raheem Adaramaja, on Friday.
Adaramaja claimed that the present administration inherited over 2000 dilapidated school structures from the past administration.
The statement reads, “First, a key feature of pre-2019 basic schools in Kwara State was instances of children learning under trees or sitting on bare floor, among others. This is due to many years of lack of meaningful investment in these schools. As Sahara Reporters rightly observed, Kwara was on a national blacklist between 2013 and 2019 because of mismanagement of UBEC grants by the previous administration. The effect was the horrible state of infrastructure and common sight of children learning under trees.
“The administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has admittedly been invested with the responsibility to fix these schools along with other rotten public infrastructures it inherited across the state. However, it is basic that school structures that have collapsed or dilapidated over the last one decade cannot all be fixed at once. This will take years of consistent investment and monitoring.
“The new administration paid a whopping N7.1bn counterpart funds for years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 to access the UBEC matching grants for those years. This money, according to a work plan agreed with the UBEC, will rehabilitate, remodel or reconstruct identified classrooms across 605 locations in the state, build digital literacy centres in 40 designated places, supply furniture, provide boreholes, among other specifications in the UBEC plan.
Inside Kwara Primary School Where Pupils Learn Under Trees Despite State Government Access To N7Billion Education Fund | Sahara Reporters pic.twitter.com/nPGucv1Udo
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) May 19, 2022
“But even after all the projects listed in the action plan have all been fixed, we are certain to still have a litany of classrooms that require rehabilitation or renovation due to long years of criminal neglect of the basic education in the state.
“Specifically on the Asa LGEA School Eiyenkorin where a picture of school pupils learning under the tree was shown, a careful study of the image shows in the background a block of classrooms and one office under construction in the school. It is at the stage of plastering. That is among the 2018 projects that are ongoing in many locations across the state. That phase of the projects began this year according to the work plan agreed with the UBEC. Apart from that, the government has supplied 60 units of student furniture to the same school this year.
“Again, a careful study of the picture published by SaharaReporters shows that the pupils were sitting on a well-paved concrete base. Upon it now stands one of the 10 mobile classrooms that the UNICEF donated to the Kwara State Universal Education Board. Obviously, SaharaReporters had taken the picture before the mobile classroom was mounted on the base that was still healing after construction.
“Similarly, the school has also been penciled down for one of the UBEC direct intervention projects which are expected to begin in July/August 2022. While the government of Kwara State will not relent in its duty to rebuild the state from the ruins of the past, it is also important to state that rebuilding efforts happen in phases and reasonably take years of huge resources and consistency.
“Therefore, the-over-2000 dilapidated school structures inherited from the past can’t all be fixed at once, especially by an administration that has its hands fully engaged with fixing the equally mountainous rots it met in other sectors of the state,” the statement added.