For pupils of Yoldeboki Primary School, every school day comes with a silent prayer that the weather will cooperate with their desire to learn. As a result of the hard choice the children are faced with, primary education is not as pleasant as it should be. The classroom is right under the open sky, subject to the whim of the elements, with a tree doing its best to provide shade. The blackboard also takes its place leaning against the tree, and the pupils sit their behinds on the bare dusty field.
Some pupils are ‘lucky’. Those who wish bring chairs from home to school. They take classes in dilapidated structures that should be classrooms. From cracked walls threatening to collapse finally, to roofs that have long taken flight with the wind, the state of Yoldeboki Primary School is only fit for an area in the throes of recovery from war. However, there’s no war in Gombe where the school is located.
Negligence of the local and state governments in reconstructing a block of classrooms for the community is what has led to the ‘war-torn’ state of the school.
Located in Tambeyolo community of Akko Local Government of Gombe State, Yoldeboki Primary School was established in 1976 and has enjoyed no luck from the harsh weather which is major happening in the Northern part of the country.
An on-site visit to the school, by Civic Media Lab and Tracka, showed first-hand the devastating state of the school. Speaking on the state of the school, Mrs Marylin Adamu, the school’s headmistress lamented that government has continued to look away, despite many pleas to develop the school.
“We tried all our possible best by meeting the people in government who can assist but nobody assisted us. We went to the local government to see the Education Secretary, who only promised,” she said.
“The government asked us to write a letter and attach a picture of the school, which we did, but since then, we have not heard from them. We met with Adamu Jani Bello, who is the Local Government Chairman and also met with our Councillor, Adamu Yaro Yaro in 2017, who both promised to meet with the state governor. It has been more than one year now, but the government has not come to our aid. As it is now, there are no classrooms for the pupils to study.”
The Only Hope of Primary Education for Tambeyolo Community
The headmistress, who also attended the same primary school between 1985 and 1991, noted that the Yoldeboki is the only school in Tambeyolo community and has been helping with providing residents with primary education.
She added that parents ensure their children come to school, as that is the only hope of primary education they have.
“To ensure pupils continue to learn, we combined two classes and teach them as one. Class one and two are merged, three and four then five and six,” she said.
Mrs Adamu also stated that some of the pupils have to bring chairs from their homes as all learning facilities have been destroyed by rain.
The Community Head, Mohammed Mogaji Alli, narrated how the school and community have continually sought help from government and how their pleas for help have been turned down.
According to Alli, when the school was established in 1976, it had three blocks but they have been destroyed by rainstorm. He stated that the community contributed money to build a block of classrooms for the school.
“The school used to have three blocks, but they were all destroyed by rainstorm. The school managed one of the blocks for almost 35 years before the community contributed money to build a block of classrooms for the school,” he said.
He noted that when the community discovered that the classrooms they built was showed signs of disrepair, they initiated a self-help project and another block of classrooms was constructed.
“The community came together and another block was also built through self-help project. That is the only standing block in the school and it might collapse very soon because of its present condition,” he said.
The Community Head also spoke of efforts by the community to revive the school. He noted that they have jointly written to the State Universal Basic Education Board but nothing has been done.
“Since 2010 that the school has been in this present state, we have reported the situation to SUBEB and our political representatives who are supposed to help — our local government chairman, councillor and other people at the state level, including Mallam Mohammed Mogaji —but none of them offered to help,” he said.
A Call for Help
The school management maintained that the present state of the school couldn’t encourage students to learn.
For her part, the headmistress and members of the community urged the Ibrahim Dankwambo, Governor of Gombe State and political representatives to assist in restoring the school.
She said: “The future of our children is at stake and this school is one of the ways to ensure our children have a bright future. This is the only school we have in this community and we want our governor to come to our aid and assist us by re-building the school.”