On October 10, 2017, foremost Girls’ Secondary institution in the country, Queens College will be 90 years old.
The vision of the School is: “To produce generations of women, who will excel, compete globally and contribute meaningfully to nation building”.
Its Mission Statement is: To be the foremost girls’ secondary school leading in academics and character, achieved through sound moral, quality and sustainable education”.
The School Mantra is equally endearing: “At Queens, We are Classy, We are Excellent in all We do, we are the Best, Queen’s College leads, others follow”.
None of these has changed albeit the school at present is facing some challenges chief of which is the alleged recent outbreak of gastrointestinal infection that has claimed lives of two students and reported cause of hospitalisation of some others.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole last week set up an investigating panel to unravel the primary and remote causes of death of th estudents as well as take a holistic look into the environment of the student with the view to find some lasting solutions to the challenges bedeviling the School.
The report of the investigating panel is expected to be turned in by Friday.
A visit by our Correspondent to the College premises on Wednesday revealed a very calm and serene environment as final year Students of the Junior and Senior Secondary Schools were busy writing their Examinations.
Although movement into the School was restrictive except on appointment, our Correspondent missed meeting with the newly posted Principal, Mrs. Aduke Are who was said to have gone out on official assignment.
Nevertheless, Healthstyplus Online has been on the track of some key players in the School to know what the challenges facing the School really are and how best these can be tackled so as to continue to make the School the ‘Torch Bearer’ which it has been for nine decades.
Speaking with our Correspondent, Chairman, Parents Teachers’ Association (PTA), Sir (Dr) John Ofobike in an interview blamed the entire confusion over the situation in the School on the many years of neglect by the Federal Ministry of Education.
According to Ofobike who is the Western Zone Coordinator of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), “At the time I came on board as the Chairman of PTA in October 2016, there was obviously shortage of staffs in two key areas of the School, the Kitchen and the Cleaning Department.
“You wouldn’t believe that as at October 2016, there were just six government funded staff working in the kitchen to cook for the entire student population of about 3,200 living in the boarding house every day; and to me that was just insufficient.How could they have been able to cope without having challenges? Ofobike asked rhetorically.
PTA Immediate Intervention:
From the handover note I got at the time I was coming on board, I was made to understand that the PTA had been supporting the School with about 30 staff in the Kitchen, 38 cleaning staff, four nurses in the Clinic, three drivers, 45 qualified Teachers for the School Academics and four PTA Secretariat staff. All except the Teachers and drivers were laid off because the previous PTA Committee could no longer pay for their services. The PTA purse was lean as I was told and later found out so.
On assumption of office, I discovered that the salaries of the 45 PTA staff Teachers alone for the month of October was N2.175m and I met N1.517m; so we knew there would be problems.
We realised we were also going to have a problem on our hands with the reports coming from the kitchen and the cleaning department as a result of insufficient staff, so we met with the School Management and requested we hold an emergency Assembly of Parents and Teachers. At that meeting parents were amazed with the problems in the kitchen.
It was at that meeting we learnt there was some N24m that was supposed to be in the coffers of the PTA but allegedly vanished within two weeks. So the Assembly of Parents agreed to set up a panel of enquiry.
There at the meeting was an agreement of N5000 to be contributed so we could recall some of the Kitchen staff so that the children can eat quality food. Remember I said, there were just six federal government funded kitchen staff to cater for about 3200 students in the boarding House.
After the meeting, we put up adverts for immediate employment of more staffs and we subsequently employed 15 more staff for the kitchen, 10 support staffs for the cleaning department, four nurses that were laid off were recalled, we employed a School Coach, an Electrician and a Plumber and increased their salaries. We couldn’t do more because of the lean purse and the fact that out of the 4800 parents who were to pay the N5000 levy, only 800 have paid till date.
As the PTA chairman, I discovered water is an issue. I have so far spent the sum of N4m of my personal money in that College. I brought plumber to break and fix all the pipes to the floors of the Hostel and water was flowing. Within one month of assuming office, I spent N3m to put things in order to make things work.
PTA is just an advisory body, it is to work in support of the management in areas that is inadequate because we realised government cannot do it alone.
“For me, what I think the School is supposed to do is to write to the government that the facilities in the college is overstretched. The number of students continue to increase but the facilities remain the same. The population burden on the facilities in the School have added to the situation being currently experienced and government need to move in fast to arrest further decay.
For instance Water becomes a problem when there is no power to pump water. Even the water is overused by the students such that whenever they need water, they go to the taps in the tanks and these are also over used. For instance, just before the last school resumption, we had to replace over 69 tap heads that had been destroyed.
Before I came on board, there is this water factory in the school, ‘Queens Delight’, the children are not permitted to buy from outside but they are not making use of the water but it is sold to the students and the general public. The students do not have free access to the water from that factory.
Two weeks after they resumed from Christmas there was the issue of complaints of stooling and vomiting. I was called upon but they were saying it is the kitchen and that it is perhaps the food they ate; no one was sure especially with the number of students reporting to the clinic with vomiting and stooling. I was called upon to find out what was the issue and at a point they had to take samples of the water from the school to find out what was the problem, I was told it must be from the water because the tank was washed and the corrosiveness of the tank must have led to the contamination.
I then asked the authority to instruct the students not to take the water again. I went to the factory in the school to buy N295,000 worth of pure water, 3000 bags of sachet water and asked that it be distributed at a bag each to all the students. Soon after there was no more admission at the clinic.
Death of Ms Osuiyi
When I heard about the death of the child I went to the School to make enquiry and found she happened to be the daughter of my friend. And I called the father and he confirmed that he was told that the child had temperature and was taken to clinic on Friday (February 10) and some malaria medicines were administered normally. The Clinic I was told called the parents on Saturday that they should come and collect her to run a proper medical care. They came and picked up the child.
The man told me when they were going home they asked the Chief Nurse about the treatment the child was receiving and the dad said they went to the chemist to buy the drug and continued with it. It was when they had continued after three days, the child became worse and it was then they rushed her to the hospital where she later died.
There was no single death in the School. Till now, no one has come to say this is the finding of any hospital on the problem of the college. At the time the School held her inter-house sport on Wednesday before mid- term there was no child in the sick bay. The school clinic is a sick bay not a specialist hospital. Nothing of such has been communicated to us yet and there is no way I can confirm that aspect.
The water problem is huge because the number of students in the hostel is huge they are about 3,200 and the toilets facilities are not even enough for them. I’m even told students do ‘shut-put’(ie wrap up faeces and throw away).
The current PTA realised toilet facilities are inadequate and has resolved it was going to construct 150 modern toilet facilities if all the 4800 parents paid the N5000 levy we request all should pay.
The N5000 PTA is the maximum we can demand from parents going by federal government’s directive; yet government is not alive to its responsibilities in terms of expanding facilities for use by the teeming population that is admitted yearly.
That is why most of our PTA funding of School projects have been out of pockets and through voluntary donations.