When will Queen’s College reopen?
Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos Mainland was expected to reopen last Sunday, but the resumption was stopped at the last minute. The Federal Government agreed with the Lagos State Government that the time was not ripe for the reopening of the school which was shut because of an outbreak of water-borne diseases. Two pupils died of the diseases. Parents are pitching their tent with the government. ADEGUNLE OLUGBAMILA and JANE CHIJIOKE examine the positions of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and the Queen’s College Old Girls Association on the matter.
hen will Queen’s College, Lagos be reopened? Last Saturday the management and the Queens College Parent-Teacher Association (QCPTA) told parents that the school would resume on Sunday. But on Sunday, the Federal Government told the management to stay action on the planned resumption “until further notice.”
On Monday, when The Nation visited the school, parents were seen bringing their children in JSS3 and SS3 for the mandatory coaching class ahead of their Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), and the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
The government’s directive, The Nation learnt, appeared to have assuaged the anxiety of many parents, following an outbreak of water-borne diseases that claimed two pupils – Vivian Osainyi, and Itula Binta.
Over 100 other pupils were admitted at the sick bay.
Parents rebuffed management entreaties and went to pick their children from school.
Last Thursday, Lagos State Commissioner for Health Dr Jide Idris recommended that the school should not reopen until adequate precautionary measures had been taken, citing contaminated water as the major cause of the epidemic. Two days after Unity Schools Old Students Association (USOSA), issued another statement, corroborating the Lagos State government’s position
The PTA and the management described the state government’s recommendation that the planned resumption last Sunday be put on hold as “unfair.”
The PTA Chairman Dr John Ofobike accused some elements, especially the old girls, of trying to politicise the situation. He lamented that the announcement had further heightened tension in the school.
“We think someone is trying to politicise something here,” Ofobike said.
“You know some people have been clamouring for privatising unity colleges; and I want to say here that the old girls have not been helping matters. They have been adding more to the tension with their utterances.
“I do not know the intention of the whistle-blower, because there is panic everywhere by that (government) information. Over 2,000 parents called me on Friday alone. I am not aware, and I do not know if the Federal Ministry of Health is also aware. It is unfortunate, because we have over 3000 students here,” he said.
He said the PTA had addressed the water issue, while the old students have fumigated the entire premises and given the dining hall a facelift.
Oforbike stated: “We have resolved the water issue. The old girls brought an expert who constructed this water about 15 year ago. He has advised again that this plant needs to be overhauled because the water is contaminated. That treatment plant is old and supposed to give way. In the short term he is closing down all shallow boreholes in the college. We have only one industrial borehole now which the school is going to use and chemicals to make the water drinkable are in place. This one can last for a year according to the advice from the engineer. Parents are ready (to resume) but the time is short. We are putting this borehole up as a temporary measure.
“The water plant has been in use for years but maybe something went wrong this time.
We have a water factory – Queens Delight
“It has been certified by NAFDAC and we have the papers, so this issue that Queens Delight is this or that. I’m surprised.
“The well we were using before is 70 or 80 feet deep and very shallow; but this one we have now is 580 feet deep.
“We have given this water to students and they did not die.
‘’Lagos State government is advising (closure of the school), but you go to schools owned by Lagos government and see how they are. Queens College still remains the best.
“The minister (of health) was told there were 200 students in the sick bay lying down, but when he came with his entourage and ambulances, there was no student in the sick bay. They have all gone on mid-term break. The students that died, died while in their various homes and not the college, though they were sick from here. They took ill and were given exit. The water was discovered while the students were on mid-term break.
“The old students cannot claim to be more of stakeholders than us. For instance, the president of the old student graduated in 1968, so they always feel the school belongs to them. But we are parents; I have a daughter here and so do others. So the interest of these children is of utmost concern to us.’’
But the President of the Queens College Old Students Association Dr. Funmi Ajose, said she would not dignify Ofobike’s claim with a response. She said Ofobike’s background speaks volume about who he is.
Earlier, Dr. Ajose had granted an interview to reporters where she accused the PTA and staff of negligence and indifference to the students.
“I do not wish to respond to those allegations,” Ajose told our reporter on telephone on Tuesday.
She added: “You reporters need to ask him (Ofobike) who he is; his background, and then gauge that with the utterances of the Commissioner for Health who is a specialist and an authority in that field.
“What background does he (Ofobike) have that gave him the opinion he was offering to the media? On what premise is he basing his opinion? Something is wrong here. That is all I have to say for now.”
Interestingly, too, parents are happy that their wards would now be with them while the school authorities put appropriate measures in place to guarantee the safety of the students. Many of the parents, who spoke to The Nation, pleaded anonymity to prevent their wards from being victimised upon resumption.
A parent aligned with the Federal Government’s directive to close down the school indefinitely.
He said: “This thing has become a national issue and I’m happy that the Federal Government has finally waded into it by closing down the school.
“Let the PTA put structures in place and let the government monitor to ensure everything is in order before our children can resume.
“There was a time they took us (parents) around the school premises during this crisis; that was when we knew there was no inspection in place. The sight was ugly! Management needs to do more.
“I remember a time my daughter was brought home sick. The school said she had malaria; we started treating her for malaria but the situation was getting worse. We now decided to conduct series of test on her and the result showed she had an infection and not malaria. That is how bad the situation is.”
Another parent, whose daughter is writing WASSCE, spoke in the same vein.
“They (management) made us sign one insurance form where each parent paid N500 yearly. When my daughter was brought home very sick, I took her to the hospital and I spent over N100,000 on her before she eventually got well. I then sent to the school receipt of the hospital bill hoping management would refund me, but up till now, they have not yet responded.
“I have already made arrangements for water and food for my daughter. I do not want her to touch or take any food within the school premises while her exams lasts,” the parent said.
‘Nobody carried us along’
Another parent who live in Abuja lamented the short notice given to them ahead of resumption.
“We first received one SMS on Thursday, last week from the management, before another one from the PTA on Saturday asking us to report with our wards on Sunday.
“That is unfair. They know many of us don’t live within Lagos and someone like me had to rush my daughter down on Monday. I had to buy most of the things she needed in Lagos because we had no time to arrange.
“Let’s even assume I live in Lagos, if my house is in Badagry or Ikorodu, it would still have been difficult to meet up due to the chaotic Lagos traffic. But beyond that, I feel the management and PTA have told us enough lies. Let them do the needful until that place is habitable for children to live.”
A teacher in the school, who pleaded not to be mentioned, told our reporter that aside fixing the boreholes, management should focus more attention on the lavatory.
“For me, the news all over the place is that the children are suffering from water-borne diseases. But I’m an insider here. When you go to their lavatory, the stench that will assail your nostrils will immediately put you off. That place is an eyesore and I believe these students must have contracted the disease there. Unfortunately, they usually don’t give access to outsiders to inspect their facilities.”
‘Need for action’
A concerned parent, Mrs Toyin Asuni, stressed the need for urgent action on the case to save the children’s lives.
“If QC is like this, I bet that more Federal Government colleges are in worse situations. If this sort of contamination happened in a corporate institution, the government agencies would have locked up the principal officers and closed down the business. What I am baffled about is the silence of the parents of that school. It is unbelievable,” she said in a facebook post.
‘Management is doing its best’
Defending the authority however, another teacher, who also pleaded not to be mentioned, said management was doing its best.
“Management is trying. Do you realise we have over 3000 students here? Those students that died, died in their homes and not in the school. If you don’t wear the shoes, you don’t know where it pinches. The government is not helping matters at all. It is the PTA and the old girls that have been shouldering much of the responsibilityhttp://36hype.com/when-will-queens-college-reopen/http://36hype.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/wp-1490246826646.jpghttp://36hype.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/wp-1490246826646-150x150.jpgUncategorizedqueens college