By Peter Uwumarogie
Gombe, – Gombe State Government says it is working towards addressing the challenges of inadequate toilet facilities in public schools in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that schools’ toilets are insufficient in most of the public primary schools in the state.
Some selected schools in Gombe Metropolis visited by NAN correspondent, both pupils and staff share the same toilet facilities, which are pit latrines and are poorly maintained in spite of regular water supply.
In three of the schools visited, the population of pupils is 2,431 pupils to eight toilets, 2,962 pupils to two toilets and 1,856 pupils to four toilets.
The pupils per toilet ratio are 303 pupils to a toilet in the first school, 1,421 pupils to a toilet in the second and 464 pupils to a toilet in the third school.
The schools: are Yalenguru Primary School, Bubayero Primary School and Jalo Waziri Primary School, all in Gombe.
Alhaji Ishaku Abdullahi, Gombe State Commissioner for Education, told NAN that the state government is already aware of the situation.
According to him, building of toilet facilities across the state’s primary and secondary schools has been captured in the current budget.
“We have captured the issue of inadequate toilets in schools in this year’s budget. Before now, we have been working on the construction of toilets in boarding schools across the state.
“Now that we are done with that, our concern has shifted to day schools in the Metropolis. We are aware of the shortcoming, but we are addressing the issues with this year’s budget,’’ he said.
On fencing of schools, the commissioner said: “90 per cent of our schools are fenced.
“We are working on fixing the remaining 10 per cent to ensure that school facilities are not abused by outsiders.”
Abdullahi said that Gov. Ibrahim Dankwambo had done a lot in the education sector, adding that government was working towards addressing challenges in the sector.
He charged the management of public schools to take the issue of sanitation seriously, adding that the health of pupils and students were of utmost concern to the state government.
The situation in these schools had attracted some interventions by the World Bank through the State Education Programme Investment Project (SEPIP) by building eight additional pit latrines in two of the schools recently.
In the third school, it took the school’s Parent-Teacher-Association (PTA) intervention to construct four toilets without roof at the cost of N68, 000, following the deplorable and inadequate toilets in the school.
One of the schools’ Principal, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told NAN that most of the government’s schools lack serious toilet facilities, adding that the increase in number of student enrolment has put pressure on the existing facilities.
“With the school feeding programme of the Federal Government, more children are getting enrolled to use the same facilities, which have become a health challenge for the school.
“We are having serious issues with toilet facilities in public schools.
“We had 2,150 pupils before the feeding programme but now, we have 2,962 pupils and total staff strength of 150 and we all are to share just two toilets, this is sad,’’ he said.
The principal appealed to the state government for help by constructing more toilets for the pupils and staff in all public schools in the state.
However, an educationist, from a private school, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said construction of toilet buildings alone was not enough but they should be beneficial to pupils.
She said such facilities should be provided with the peculiarity of gender to toilet specification, noting that the girl pupils needed special sanitation standard because of their nature.