- Minister orders resumption of WASCE candidates as ‘day students’
There is palpable confusion over the fate of students who are supposed to commence the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) at Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos, this week, following the outbreak of diarrheoa leading to the death of two students
These are not the best of times for the management and students of Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos. Less than one year after the college was engulfed in crisis over allegation of sexual abuse of one of its pupils by a teacher, the college has again been hit by the outbreak of diarrheoa, which has led to the death of two students, Vivian Osainyi and Bithia Itulua, with others still receiving treatment in hospitals.
The college, which on Wednesday, February 23, embarked on midterm holiday shortly after its interhouse sports competition, and was due to resume on Sunday, February 26, has remained shut indefinitely following the news of the death of the two students.
The news of the epidemic outbreak had necessitated the visit of the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who promptly asked the Department of Community Medicine at the University of Lagos and the Epidemiology Unit of the Lagos State Ministry of Health to launch full scale investigation into the outbreak.
Meanwhile, The Lagos State Government last Thursday confirmed that the death of the students was as a result of waterborne disease, calling for delay in the students’ resumption.
Addressing the media, the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris said the samples collected from 16 water sources in the school premises and analyzed at Drug Quality Control Laboratory of the Lagos State Ministry of Health at LASUTH and the Microbiology Department of LUTH, Idi-Araba, confirmed the development.
Idris said: “The results from the two laboratories showed high bacteria content in the water samples from the kitchen, behind the dining hall and Queens Delight, the school water factory.”
The development had led to the transfer of the College’s Principal, Dr. Lami Amodu, who was asked to swap position with the Principal of the Federal Science and Technical College, Uromi, Edo State, Mrs. Biola Are. Since Are resumed at the Queen’s College, the school has remained shut with major rehabilitation work being carried out on the environment to improve the sanitation of the school compound.
Investigations by New Telegraph also revealed that medical tests conducted for the school indicated that they were infected with bacteria, which made them unqualified to remain as cooks until they are certified to be medically fit. Meanwhile, the school’s Old Girls’ Association had taken up the responsibility of fixing the school’s dining hall and the repair of the water facilities.
However, according to a source in the school, the water has successfully been fixed, but awaiting the result of the laboratory test for final approval. The source said: “The Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Bode Chris, visited the school on Saturday and said the result of the laboratory test would soon be ready. He said till then, the school cannot resume.”
Meanwhile, following the failure of the school to resume yesterday as earlier scheduled, the students who are supposed to write the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE), conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) are currently at a loss over what becomes of their fate.
This is as the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, has reportedly ordered that both the WASSCE candidates and the Junior Secondary School III students be allowed to resume to school yesterday, Monday, March 20, but only as ‘day students’ since the boarding facilities would not have been opened for use.
The new directive by the Minister may not be unconnected with the pressure from parents of the Final Year students, whose examinations are billed to commence on Friday with Further Mathematics.
However, the Minister’s directive seems to have failed to consider the students outside Lagos and from far distances, whose parents have no places they could sleep in Lagos. In fact, in a message sent to parents on Saturday, March 18, a copy of which was made available to New Telegraph, the college’s new Principal, Mrs. Biola Are, directed both the SSIII and JSS III students to resume on Monday, and that they can only be allowed to be in the school between 7:30am and 2:30pm from Monday to Friday.
The short message reads: “Dear Parents, this is to inform you that having concluded all necessary arrangements and preparation for the resumption tomorrow 19th /03/2017, the Honorable Minister of Education has directed the resumption of the Exam classes (JSS3 and SS3) only as Day students from Monday March 20, 2017 (7:30am-2:30pm Mondays to Fridays).
All other students should check the college portal regularly for their assignments. “Please note that all these Exam classes must come along with their lunch and drinks. We are grateful to God for His Grace.”
But, in an interview with the Chairman of the school governing board, otherwise known as School- Based Management Committee, Alhaji Azeez Amusa, he explained that beyond the examination, the health of the students was paramount and that the school would ensure that the best is achieved.
He noted that he was yet to receive confirmation of the Minister’s directive, and that as soon as the directive is confirmed; the management would ensure full compliance.
But, the Chairman of the school’s chapter of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Mr. Abiodun Oladejo, noted that its investigation has revealed that some individuals are bent on running down the college as part of plans to make the Federal Government hand over the unity schools to private hands.
He said: “We understand there are issues in the college but we can also let you know that the Federal Government must not dance to the tune of those who are working day and night to ensure that they run down the unity schools as part of their grand plans to suggest their take over by private businesses.”