Speaking on the newly built Farm settlement primary school, Mr Adewale Adeoye, Executive Director of JODER said the building of the school was conceived by Ford Foundation under the Good Neighborliness Project. He said a Ford staff that lives in Ikorodu, Mrs Yemisi Akin Adeniyi had identified the school’s poor conditions after which she informed Ford Foundation. Adeoye said JODER’s role was a mere “footnote” adding that the whole credit should go to Ford Foundation and its affectionate staff. “JODER is grateful that FORD contacted us to oversee the building. The whole credit goes to Ford Foundation and her amazing staff.”
Poor Odogunyan community erupted in excitement yesterday as locals and dignitaries watch the opening of six classrooms and toilets at the Farm Settlement Primary School located in rural suburb of Lagos. The world standard classrooms, equipped with modern furniture, borehole and toilets were conceived and built by the Ford Foundation under the group’s Good Neighborliness project.
The project also included the building of an extensive fence on the two acre vast land on which the school was built. The school has a population of 1000 pupils, from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds and by far the largest public primary school in the area. The pupils are from poor and vulnerable homes.
The primary was first built in 1978 specifically for wards of poor and rural parents who could hardly afford the benefit of modern primary schools. Even then, the learning conditions dwindled under the weight of years of authority neglect compounded later by dwindling fortunes of state resources. The Ford Foundation had asked the Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) to supervise the project.
The Secretary to the State Governor, Mr Tunji Bello who represented the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode said the growing population of pupils in public schools remains a major challenge to the state government describing the intervention ofFord Foundation as strategic. He said the people of Lagos will never forget the monumental contributions of Ford Foundation for ending the despair of the pupils.
The Representative of Ford Foundation, West Africa, Mr Innocent Chukwuma who spoke at the event said an official of Ford Foundation, Mrs Yemisi Akin Adeniyi identified the school based on the peculiar challenges faced by the pupils. He said the idea is to promote good neighborliness.
Chukwuma said the original concept of public schools was to provide a platform for rich and poor children to mingle so as not to create a generation gap and to broaden understanding among the various classes of children within the social and economic spectrum of the larger society.
He said that pupils from poor and rich homes hardly have a meeting point which is partly responsible for a string of hate, discord and social inequalities that exist today. The rich children never meet children of the poor. They don’t know their fears and aspirations. The same children of the rich when they grow up end up ruling a society they hardly understand. The head girl of the school, Makanjuola Khadijat said “We are happy. We no longer need to clear faeces of hoodlums. Before now we were ashamed of ourselves and the school, but now we have pride and dignity.” The JODER Executive Director, Mr Adewale Adeoye said the Ford Foundation has left an indelible footprints in the hearts of future leaders and in the host community.
Until the rebuilding of the historic school, the lack of fence opened gory opportunities for armed gangs and street urchins who have converted the space into a red light district. On one occasion, said Mr Oduwoye, the Ikorodu Local Government LG Secretary, said a sophisticated gun was found at the school, apparently abandoned the day before by suspected armed robbers. The pupils also needed to clear the faeces of intruders who take over the space on weekends and in the dead of the night.
The head teacher of the school Mr Adewale Olukoga said since the school was rebuilt by Ford Foundation, the enthusiasm to enroll in the school has tripled. “People ask us how do we do it. They ask us if we are now a private school. We are very grateful to the Ford Foundation for this great edifice,” an excited Olukoga said amidst pomp, pageantry and sounds of local drums and flute provided by locals.