If I have not visited my former school, Day Primary School Azare, I would not have seen the wretchedness and agony under which pupils and teachers in the school live. My visit to my alma mater has shown me the failure of government and community disregard and neglect of public institutions. The once popular and renowned citadel of learning and the pride of our community is now the shadow of its former self. The school name has been changed from Day Primary school to Baba Kafinta Primary School Azare. However, I will choose to refer to the school by its former name to avoid ambiguity in this piece.
I could vividly remember life at Day Primary school in the early seventies and particularly in 1978, during a combined common entrance examination for class 6 and 7. This exam marked the end of class 7 in line with the new government policy of 6-3-3-4 that prepared us for the challenges awaiting us at secondary school.
According to a former headmaster of the school, the number of pupils enrolled in the school today is over two thousand. The class rooms, seats and other facilities available for conducive learning environment in the school are overstretched. The situation is worsened by the establishment of a new upper basic school which is also called Baba Kafinta Junior Secondary school to run simultaneously with the primary school in the same environment, and with the same inadequate and defective facilities. The junior secondary school has a student population of 1,100. The school runs between 12:30 pm, after the primary session closes, to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. The 2 schools lack safe and orderly environment conducive to learning.
What I saw in Day Primary school Azare during my visit on Monday, 13th April 2015, is disturbing. The decrepit structure of 14 abandoned classes which have been turned into free public 'toilets' for defecation, many 'functional' classes which are deprived of seats, windows, ceilings, doors, and complete seizure of some classes by miscreants are mindboggling. I came face to face with reprobate kids smoking hashish in one of the abandoned classes. To my surprise, none of the boys showed any signs of alarm when they saw me going round the building with one of the officials of the school. Some of the abandoned buildings serve as resting place for men of the underworld and kid gangsters.
Things that we took for granted during our school days are now luxury for the pupils in day Primary school. The school environment during our time was an ambience where children were valued as individuals. We felt very much at home with our teachers whom we so much revered because we looked up to them as father figures, as they held us very close to their hearts. A safe and orderly environment conducive to learning is critical to academic achievement. Unfortunately, this is what my alma mater is lacking today.
As I was going round the school with a heavy heart, I began to ask myself who is to be held responsible for the pitiable condition of the school. The list of principal culprits is endless.
As one of the products of the school, I begin by blaming myself for not being responsive to the plight of the school. I feel guilty and I own up to my fault. By extension, ALL old boys of the school cannot be absolved of derelictions. The parent Teachers Association of the school (PTA) does not live to its responsibilities too. The various forums and youths associations in Azare town that operate as pressure groups aimed at sensitizing the public about the plight of our people have failed in this regard. The press, the institution which operates to protect the people's liberties and rights, as well as act as watchdog on authorities shies away from its responsibilities.
Bauchi state and Katagum local government only give lip service to education and other critical sectors in the state. An elder of the PDP who formerly served as an official of the party at federal level confessed to me that Bauchi state government has collected close to a trillion naira from various subventions from the federal government, from 1999 to date. If Mu'azu and Yuguda administrations have made judicious use of the funds allocated to them, no classroom will be as dilapidated and in ruin as the decrepit classes in Day Primary School. If schools in a principal town in the state like Azare would be neglected by the government, I wonder what the condition of schools in villages and remote hamlets in other parts of the state would look like.
The bitter truth is that individualism, greed and avarice have taken over our subconscious mind. We feel we only exist as individuals or members of a nuclear family distinct from others, and that what affects the neighborhood and community at large do not matter to us. The animalistic instinct of survival of the fittest has taken over the altruistic tradition of mutual back scratching in our society. Relationship among people should not be ordinarily a matter of survival of the fittest. We are no longer our brothers' keepers. Unfortunately, we tend to forget that this basic problem which we all seem to give a lip service is indeed the cause of our inability to form a formidable political front.
I am happy that few stakeholders in the new initiative to rebuild and change the fortunes of Day Primary school Azare have shown interest to come to the rescue of the school. If you are an old boy of the school, I implore you to join us in this worthy cause. If you are not, I advise you to pay a visit to your alma mater. Perhaps you will see one or two things you can contribute toward physical, moral or educational development of your former school. The earlier we return to basic the better for the future of our communities.
Saleh Ibrahim Bature.