Public Schools Battle Refuse, Weeds

About three weeks after schools resumed for the 2019/2020 academic session, many public primary schools in Rivers State have remained unkempt with overgrown grasses and garbage dumps making them unconducive for learning.

Some of the schools like State Primary School Rumueme had dumpsites which omit offending odour dangerously close to them.

The Vortex correspondent reports that besides the Market Junction dumpsite which is very close to the school, the surroundings were filthy and overgrown with grasses.

Our correspondent, who visited the State Primary Schools, Rumuapara described the surroundings, particularly the field as a thick bush that could harbor snakes and other dangerous reptiles.

“The grasses were so overgrown they nearly overshadow the school buildings. Except you got close to the compound, it would be difficult to know that any kind of activities was going on there”, he said.

On the day our correspondent visited the school he saw six pupils of about seven years cutting grasses that covered the front of the headmistress’ office.

A mild drama ensued when our correspondent spoke to the Headmistress of the school, Mrs. Helen. She almost refused to speak when she heard that the reporter was a journalist. When she eventually spoke, she asked. “Did you see any cleaner, gardener or anybody employed to cut the grasses and keep the school premises tidy?

She told our correspondent to go the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Board for further inquiries.

State Primary School Oroworukwo was also untidy and overgrown with grasses as at the time The Vortex correspondent visited. Our correspondent could not speak with the headmaster as he was not available.

State Primary School Rumuokwurusi, near St. John’s Catholic stinks as a result of a dumpsite by its fence. Our correspondent gathered that Rumuokwurusi Town Council had repeatedly asked for the removal of the dumpsite from there.

“The terrible odour emanating from that dumps is unhealthy for school children”, Iyama, a Rumuokwurusi resident said.

The field of St. Andrew’s State School Diobu was also over-grown with grasses; nevertheless, its surroundings were tidy when our reporter visited.

The silver living was Model Girls Secondary School, Rumueme. The premise of the school was tidy with flowers and trees inside the compound well tended.

Our correspondent reasoned that the Primary Schools Management, UBE Board or whoever concerned should have cut the grasses and kept the schools healthy for learning at least a week before resumption. Asking little school children to abandon their classrooms and begin to cut grasses is awkward. The authorities should have employed people to handle cleaning of school premises, especially during vacations.

When contacted on the development, Rivers State UBE Director and Head of Public Relations, Barr. Karibi George said the board was not aware that some schools were overgrown with grasses, adding that the head teachers and principals should be held responsible.

On the schools with dumpsites close to them, the PRO said it was beyond their control, noting that it is the Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA) that designates dumpsites.

He however, said if the schools management had contacted the Board on this, they would have liaised with RIWAMA to find a way out.

George said the Board was planning a programme to educate head teachers and principals on these and other issues that could improve quality and standard of learning in public schools.

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