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OMG! How pupils in Oyo community school are forced to drink cattle urine

 
Found this shocking and long report in PUNCH and just had to share it here!

In Opoo, a remote community at the outskirts of Okaka in Itesiwaju Local
Government Area of Oyo State, life is a different mix for Abiola Bankole
and her two little siblings – Yemi and Ibukun. 
Their school,
Community Primary School Opoo, boasts only three classrooms with no
basic facilities to support any meaningful academic exercise. Two out of
the three classrooms have their roof completely blown off by the wind
while the only surviving one shared by the entire school of about 150
pupils is half way from finally caving. 
More than half of the schools
population wear mufti to classes because their parents cannot afford
uniforms. Many of the children carry their books to school in sacks or
with their bare hands. Not only that, pupils drink water mixed with
cattle urine and faeces as the only source of water in community is
shared by both animals and human begins.

 For the three siblings and
dozens of their little colleagues in this tiny agrarian community, there
is nothing to dream about in the future. The harsh environment they
live in and the terrible condition under which they learn at this
dilapidated school building rob them of the frills that come along with
formative years.
“We have encountered a lot of problems
in this place especially on the bad condition of the school,” Ojelabi
David Abioye, headmaster of the school, explained to our correspondent.
“We have taken a lot of pictures to the local government and written
several letters yet nothing has been done about this. They have promised
us several times to do something about the situation but it is still
the same.
“Last week, we were also at the local
government office to complain to them because there is almost nowhere
left for the pupils to learn. The only classroom the entire school is
managing at the moment is gradually being taken over by termites and
other dangerous animals that are destroying the entire building and the
little furniture in it. Whenever there is heavy wind and storm, we can’t
stay in the classroom because the remaining roof might collapse on us,”
he said.
Abioye, who became head-teacher of the school about 17 years ago, told Saturday PUNCH
that the present situation is making learning almost impossible for the
children of Opoo and surrounding settlements who are serviced only by
the school. Giving an insight into how bad things really are, Abioye
revealed that himself and one other teacher, Julius Solola, are the only
ones teaching the entire school of around 150 pupils because government
has refused to post in more hands to assist them. The workload, he
says, is neck-breaking.
“Government has not employed teachers
for a long time and that is why the situation is very bad at the moment.
The other teacher (Solola) joined me here nine years ago and we have
been doing the job of about 10 people alone. We used to be three here
but one person was transferred to another school outside this locality.
“Personally, I have lodged several
complaints at the local government office but all they tell me is that
the government has not taken a stand on our case, that until that is
done, nothing will happen.
“This is really affecting the pupils
because the environment is not conducive for any form of learning. In
fact, most times we have to bring out benches and desks for some pupils
to be taught under a tree outside the school building while the others
manage to learn in the only classroom. There is no library or any modern
equipment with which to teach the pupils.
“Once it starts raining, we ask all the
children to go home because the roof is very bad. For that day, that
will be the end of studies,” he said.
The size of each of the classroom is
only a few yards larger than the space inside most commercial buses in
Lagos and other major Nigerian cities, our correspondent observed during
the visit. Pupils squeeze themselves into less than 15 desks in the
only surviving classroom while several others watch the teacher from the
corridor, leaving a sizable number to sit on the bare floor under the
orange tree outside the school building, waiting for their turns to be
taught in the classroom.
While teaching was going on, two pupils
from Basic One engaged in a scuffle, attracting the attention of the
headmaster who whipped them lightly for distracting the rest of the
class. Shortly, pupils from Basic One and Two who had been sharing the
only one class at the same time were asked to move out for their seniors
in Basic Five to come in for their turn. On other days, the three
categories are taught at the same time crammed into different rows
inside the same classroom. The commotion of having at least 100 pupils
in this tiny room at the same time on such days can best be imagined.
Screaming, crying and distraction of all forms are always the situation.
The pupils can hardly concentrate in a classroom whose temperature is
far below normal, leaving many of them drenched in sweat while the two
teachers attend to them the best way they can.
Following the jam-packed nature of the class when Saturday PUNCH
correspondent visited, many of the pupils looked worn out and very
stressed by the time they came out of the classroom. The situation is
not peculiar to this particular day; it is a familiar scenario which now
threatens the academic and wellbeing of the young pupils.
Also, the once vibrant
and well-stocked health centre established only in 2007 now lays
prostrate. Overgrown by weeds and taken over by insects and dangerous
reptiles, it is a pale shadow of its former self. Expectant mothers on
the verge of delivery are either rushed to hospital on motorcycle, if
it’s available, or escorted on foot to the nearest town seven kilometers
away. Some mothers have not been able to survive this tough test,
community leaders told Saturday PUNCH. The babies had come too
quickly along the bumpy and narrow road leading into the settlement just
before their mothers got to the nearest hospital or received any
medical help.
It is a similar experience for sick
indigenes of the area that have mostly relied on local herbal
concoctions or had to make the long trip outside Opoo to get medical
help.
“One of our pregnant women almost died
recently while we were taking her to the hospital in the next town,”
Orimatanmi Aderounmu, head of Opoo community told our correspondent. “It
was late in the evening and we could not get a motorcycle on time to
rush her down, so she delivered along the road. Thank God one of our
women had little experience in this aspect; she was the one who assisted
in the delivery of the child before a nurse came in the following day
to look at her and the child.
“We are really suffering. The lack of a
functional health centre or hospital is really affecting us. Whatever
happens to us here, we have to go all the way to Okaka to get medical
attention.
“Personally I have been to the local
government office several times to let them know what we are passing
through but nobody seems concerned with our situation. I let them know
that we are too many in this settlement not to have a good health
facility with drugs and doctors to attend to our medical needs. But
nobody is ready to listen to our cries.
“The health centre we have here has been
closed down since last October. Before that time, the doctor and other
medical staff used to be on ground on regular basis and the hospital was
regularly supplied with drugs. But since that time, we have been left
to suffer,” he said.
Chronic typhoid fever, constant stomach
upset and rheumatism are among the major sicknesses prevalent here. But
the lack of potable water in the entire community now leaves many
residents and especially children at the mercy of an even more dangerous
disease. They are at risk of cholera and an epidemic outbreak.
Opoo’s only water source is a shallow
hole that springs forth dirty water. It is shared by both humans and
cattle. The pupils wait for cattles to drink, urinate and pass out their
faces before they take same water to drink. When our correspondent
visited the site, Fulani women were seen washing dirty clothes directly
into the water source just moments before children from the settlement
arrived to fetch water. It is a practice that has gone on for a long
time but now puts many households in this locality in grave danger.
“If you see the water we drink, then you
will understand why there are so many sicknesses in this community,”
Aderounmu cuts in. “We are suffering from typhoid and many of the
children are always complaining of stomach pains.
“The Fulanis take their cattles to the
only source of water we are managing to drink here. In the process, the
cattles urinate and defecate inside the water. But because we don’t have
a choice, we wait for them to finish before fetching water from the
place. The water is not good at all but since government has refused to
help us, we have to keep managing it like that.”
Like many tiny agrarian communities
tucked away in remote parts of the country, Opoo and neighbouring
settlements are yet to taste electricity supply. The people rely on a
few transistor radios for latest information in the country. Mobile
phones are mostly out of reach as a result of drained batteries.
“Only one person has generator in this
place. It is only when he has petrol to put it on that we can charge our
phones, if not we give anybody going to Okaka to charge for us. This is
how we have been surviving over the years,” Aderounmu told our
correspondent.
Indeed, life in this tiny Oyo settlement
is a mix of pains, sufferings and neglect. It is a case of flagrant
deprivation in the face of crushing and widespread poverty.
Predominantly farmers with little or no education, many adults have
grown up the hard and tortuous way. The community’s only school
established in 1997 to connect their children to a world of limitless
opportunities which education offers is now a thin line away from total
collapse while the hospital in the centre of the town is a distant
contrast from what it used to be. Unless relevant authorities and
corporate organisations quickly rise to the occasion, little children
like Abiola and Yemi might watch their dreams fizzle into thin air while
sick residents could be swallowed by an impending epidemic hovering
upon Opoo.
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