Parents urge government to improve sanitary conditions in unity schools



Against the backdrop of the recent strange ailment, which afflicted over 300 students of the Federal Government Girls College, Efon, Alaaye, Ekiti State, leading to their being hospitalised, parents and stakeholders have called on the Federal Government to enforce strict adherence to high-level of hygienic conditions in all federal government colleges in the country.

They specifically want the Federal Government to address infrastructural deficits in these colleges in addition to putting paid to the very poor sanitary conditions prevalent in some of the schools in order to create safe learning environments.

Signs of the outbreak started manifesting on Saturday, October 10, 2015, when some students started vomiting and stooling rampantly, leading some to conclude that it was cholera. Governor Ayodele Fayose, on receiving the report swung into action, by dispatching medical personnel there to help curb the situation.

While some still allege that the condition may be attributed to food poisoning or contaminated water source, some stakeholders and parents maintain that the proprietor of the unity colleges, the Federal Government should ensure provision of basic facilities suitable for 21st century boarding school.

Chief Executive Officer of Edumark, an education-consulting firm, Mrs. Yinka Ogunde, who frowned at the situation, urged government, corporate organisations and all stakeholders to collectively look into the plight of some of the colleges with a view to revamping them.
“One of the key areas government must urgently look into is education. We cannot afford to continue to toy with the lives of our children. Some of the facilities in those schools are appalling and it is clear that an outbreak of disease in any of those institutions would be difficult to manage.

One thing is clear to me, sometimes all these things cannot be left for the government to attend to. A good head of school also has a major role to play. Enforcing and putting good hygiene practices in place should not be something that should ordinarily become a major crisis.

If there is a need to replace beds, mattresses, kitchen utensils or any other vital facility, a good principal should be able to call parents, alumni, citizens to donate the needed items. Parents on their part must know about getting disinfectants and teaching their children how to use such. House mistresses, matrons and all parties must inspect to ensure adherence.”

She further advised that food preparation, source of drinking water and means of disposing waste should be properly handled, as it is difficult to control epidemic among children.
“We all know how fast these things can spread amongst young children, so, it’s important that health checks and balances must be put in place. Let people who will enforce compliance with the process be there at all times.”

A parent, Mrs. Chinwe Agu, said government needs to improve some of the facilities at the colleges, as many of them were built over three or four decades ago.
“Some of them have no, or insufficient water supply; sanitation and hand washing facilities. Many facilities at some of these colleges are broken down, dirty and unsafe, thus exposing the children to health risks and challenges.
“The caregivers should also maintain effective hygienic practice so that what happens to one, would not spread to the others. For the disease to have affected about 300 pupils, it must be contagious disease or food poisoning.”

A teacher at Federal Science and Technical College, Yaba, Lagos, who pleaded anonymity, said no doubt, issues related to stooling and vomiting might have manifested as a result of poor hygienic practices.

It could be from water or food, but to the best of my knowledge, stooling and vomiting sometimes occurs as a result of poor sanitation. The authorities should check the source of the children’s drinking water and construct serviceable boreholes if need be, while the kitchen and hostel environment should be sanitised appropriately.
“Again, means of storing and preserving foods should be checked. Not all schools could afford to spend much money on diesel to power electricity generating plants, which aid for food preservation. All these are issues to be considered in every boarding school.”

Another parent and a teacher, Mrs. Ronke Oyenuga, whose child attends one of the unity colleges, said, “If you visit some of these colleges, you will be amazed at some of their facilities. They are not only old but also overused. There is need for total renovation of the hostels, kitchen, dinning halls and their toilets.”
“The other time it was Kings’ College and bedbug infested hostels. Now, some pupils of FGGC, Ekiti. Something definitely has to be done.

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