Residents call for re-opening of Plateau training school closed during #EndSARS protest

Bulmun Sunday Dakwal 7 months ago 0 17

By Bulmun Dakwal

Maigida Aisha, who was a student of the Plateau State Polytechnic until 2013, had to drop out of school due to financial constraints.

After dropping out of school Miss Aisha heard about the Home Economics Training School in Riyom and enrolled to acquire skills in catering since she couldn’t complete her education at the state polytechnic.

She said the school was affordable and saved her from being called a school dropout as it gave her the needed skill which till date still serves her.

“I still use the baking skill I learnt to bake wedding cakes, send forth cakes and snacks for any occasion and it is all from what I learned in the school,” she said

The former school secretary, Abishak Gowok, said the school has impacted so many girls within the state.
“This school has helped a lot of girls, from those who didn’t have the opportunity to go to school, those who dropped out and those who wanted to acquire different kinds of skills, it allowed them to learn and today most of our girls are doing well for themselves at different locations, till today I still get calls from people making enquiries because they want to enrol but, unfortunately, the school is closed,” she said

However, the school has been closed for over two years now. Mrs Gowok said the closure was due to vandalisation by hoodlums during the ENDSARS protest that took place in 2020.

“The school was vandalised by hoodlums during the ENDSARS protest, who vandalised the Local Government Secretariat also and since then, the school couldn’t function properly and had to close down.”

Mrs Gowok, also stated that if only the government would bring the school back to life, it would be good for the girls.

“This school was not just attended by girls in Plateau state, we had girls from different states coming here to learn and with the way things are going, this school would definitely help so many girls who can not afford the university or polytechnic and it would also reduce unemployment when it reopens and staff are employed to work,” she added

The Home Economics Training School which was founded in the year 1978 to enable people, especially girls, acquire skills. For many years before its closure, it served residents of Plateau and neighbouring states.

However, the school closed in the 2020, due to the vandalisation of the school by some hoodlums in the community during the ENDSARS protest.

Although, before the school was vandalised, it was not in a great condition to be considered conducive to learning.

When UDEME visited in June 2023, we realised that the school had been closed and desserted. It now stands with broken windows, detached roofs, broken doors. A space in the dormitory is now occupied by a family.

In 2022, the Plateau State government, Included the renovation of the Home Economics Training School, Riyom in the state budget with a budget of 1.2 million naira under the state Ministry of Agriculture. We could not confirm if this fund was released or how much was.

UDEME visited the office of the commissioner of the Ministry of Agriculture with a Freedom of Information (FOI) letter and although he was not on site, we met with his Special Adviser, Fubure Sati.

After doing a follow-up concerning the FOI, Mrs Sati told UDEME that they are still making findings on the project.
“The commissioner has appointed the Permanent secretary who is currently on a trip to look into it and she will do that once she returns,” she said.

Economic activities crippled
Weng Christopher, a resident told UDEME how the closure of the school has affected the businesses that existed and also the general state of the community there.
“The influx of students made the community lively and businesses strived. People would usually leave town to come here and sell some of their goods but now they can’t do that because there’s no one to sell to, the place is just dead and quiet,” he said

Dachung Zongo, a former staff of the school told UDEME how the closure of the school has rendered not just him but other staff jobless.

“The school was very helpful as it allowed me to work and earn. We the teachers were ever ready to give our best, but the school just had to close down, and it rendered some of us jobless, I haven’t gotten a stable job as we speak.

“We feel unseen and neglected by the government” he added.
The Director of Home Economics under the ministry of Agriculture, who happens to be Mrs Gowok, said there is no plan on ground to reopen the school as no one is saying anything about it.
“I don’t know when it will be reopened and for now there is no plan to reopen the school because nobody is saying anything,” she said.

This report was produced under the UDEME project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID).

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