Students of Basden Memorial Special Education Centre (School for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb) in Isulo, Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State have raised the alarm over lack of basic social amenities in the school.
They also lamented presence of snakes and other dangerous animals in the school environment and place of habitat mostly at night; which exposed them to risk of snake bites and other such harm.
They listed the basic amenities to include electricity, potable water as well as teaching aids, calling on Governor Chukwuma Soludo to intervene by providing the facilities for their comfort, safety and enhancement of learning process.
Reacting, Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh said the State Government was not ignorant of the challenges facing the schools, adding that efforts were on to reposition various special schools in the State.
She said the challenges faced by the schools had been a recurrent one, assuring they would be gradually addressed.
She said, “We have written any memo to the Governor so that we can repair their solar system for them. We just reconstructed their toilets and all what not. We are working there. All the special schools are under reconstruction now.
“This is a perennial problem, it did not start with this administration. So, we are taking these things gradually; it is not something that will just vanish with the wave of a hand.
“Basden (the school) told us they had problems with their sumo, and we had gone there to rectify their sumo; and they have water. And now, you are talking about light. Gradually, these things will be rectified.
“We have other special schools; it is not only Basden. And the Governor is so much interested in their affairs.”
It would be recalled that the immediate-past administration of Willie Obiano in Anambra State had sometime taken the credit of transforming the Isulo-based school, popularly referred to as School for Children with Special Needs, and other Special schools in the State, sometime in 2020.
Immediate past Commissioner for Education in the State, Prof. Kate Omenugha, had during an interactive meeting tagged ‘Meet the Media’ sometime in July 2020, disclosed that the school suffered neglect and abandonment until the wife of the Governor, Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano came to rescue it from desolation and save the children from what appeared a disastrous end.
According to her, “The school wears a new look with a hostel and teachers’ quarters built by the Obiano Administration. We even built a secondary school there. But what we met on ground was unimaginable.”
The former Commissioner, at the event, narrated how the Obiano Administration met the students and their teachers as people who had been forgotten by society, while the school and entire environment was deplorable, such that no one could believe that people lived there.
Her words: “We met them as people who have been forgotten by society. The school and entire environment was deplorable. You couldn’t believe that people lived there.
“But we set to work and before long, we turned the school around to a habitable environment befitting humans. It was the wife of the Governor, Dr Ebelechukwu Obiano that led the campaign.
“She lost sleep over the sad experience. She was so troubled that she called me and cried, saying, ‘I have been looking for these children all my life and here they are at my doorstep; I am leaving them, doing nothing’.
“Then driven by passion, she declared that we must do something about those children.
“That declaration sparked off the turning around of the Isulo School and initiated the amazing transformational intervention of the Obiano Administration in schools and facilities for children with special needs across the state.
“Governor Obiano’s educational policy of not leaving any child behind manifested quickly as government moved in to rebuild the School for Special Children, Isulo.
“We built hostels, teachers quarters and set up a secondary school there. Government gave them free tuition just as it gave other physically-challenged students schooling in Anambra state.
“The Governor also increased their monthly subvention from a paltry N50, 000.00 to N500, 000.00 monthly to ensure that the children are well taken care of.
“The children have not been taking promotion examinations. Those who got to Primary Six kept repeating the class. Many of them were abandoned by their parents but I’m happy to announce that the students at Isulo will be taking their first WAEC this year.
‘They have also grown from about 100 students to 300 because more students have been joining since the transformation of the school.”
However, it is surprising that amidst all these claims, the Basden Memorial Special Education Centre, Isulo still live at the mercy of snakes today and lack potable water.