Nigerian Students endangered by pathetic toilet facilities, defecate in bush

by Odimegwu Onwumere

A great number of public nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary schools
across the country do not have lavatories, experts said. Some of them that
have toilets, either the restrooms do not have doors or water system for
users’ convenience.

Confirming this, Mr. Ishaya Dare Akawu, as the chairman of the Kaduna State
Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), apparently said that he had
visited most Nigerian schools and they do not have toilets and many do not
have contact to water.

For example, checks discovered that about 80% of primary schools in Enugu
North had no toilet amenities and both the students and teachers defecated
in the bush, especially in 2013. The schools that were affected were given
as those in Udenu, Igbo-Eze North, Igbo-Eze South, Igbo-Etiti, Nsukka and
Uzo-Uwani local government areas.

A primary school teacher, who said that he had been in the profession of
teaching for the past 20 years, outwardly said: The issue of non-provision
of toilet facilities has become part of the public school system in this
part of the country. It is not even being regarded as a priority at all.
So, over the years, we have become accustomed to using the bush, where it
is available.

Teachers and students in many of the schools do not know when this will
end. According to professionals, defecating in the bush by the students is
very dangerous as many do not have sandals. They come to school barefooted
and might be attacked by snake or bitten by poisonous ants when they go to
the bush to defecate. The teacher added that it was a reprehensible feature
for a teacher like him to rush into the bush like a hunter to answer the
call of nature.

Investigation, however, revealed that the trend in Nigerian schools is that
authorities build infrastructures without the provision for toilet and many
that have, the toilets are under lock and key. Many of the teachers use the
same toilet facilities with their students due to none are attached to
their offices, therefore creating unfriendly environment in the schools.

A 400 level Adult Education/Political Science student at a tertiary
institution in Lagos State said that the toilet situation in her school was
appalling, which had to compel them to shut the windows of their kitchen
while cooking to evade the offensive smell that oozed out from the toilet.
Another student said that he contracted diarrhea from their school toilet
and could not stay at home, but had to come to school, because he had an
examination. Nevertheless, he messed his trouser up, which moved his
colleagues into getting him another trouser to cover up.

Some of the schools have no water or are constantly in short of water,
which make the toilets unclean. Students most times create an avenue for
‘water boy’, but that often fail. The United Nations Children’s Fund,
UNICEF, frowned that the country was far from having child friendly school

It said that this was widespread in various states in the country: A
majority of primary schools, especially in rural areas, lack water,
electricity and toilet facilities. For example, on average, there is only
one toilet for 600 pupils in the primary school system. Despite political
commitment to trying to reverse years of neglect in the education sector
and a significant increase of the Federal funding, investment in basic
education is still low compared to other Sub-Saharan countries.

Speaking in an investigation of some universities in the country on April
15 2012, some newsmen in the persons of Samuel Awoyinfa (Lagos), Mike
Odiegwu (Yenagoa), Akinwale Aboluwade (Ibadan), Mudiaga Affe (Calabar), Femi
Makinde (Ekiti), Success Nwogu (Ilorin), and James Azania (Edo), had this
to say: Except for the new ones, the average public university in Nigeria
is at least three decades old. Unlike old wines that mature with age,
however, facilities in these tertiary institutions seem to age as the year
passes, with many vice-chancellors promising to upgrade them.

They added that from their explorations, many of the universities lack
basic infrastructure like regular water supply, sufficient accommodation,
well-equipped libraries or functional rest rooms in the halls of residence
or in lecture arenas. In a discussion of March 24 2013, the likes of James
Azania, Success Nwogu, Gbenga Adeniji and Motunrayo Aboderin who went on a
tour of some tertiary institutions did not sing a different song.

They reported that the schools sanitary conditions were in an appalling
state, although there were imposing edifices and attention-catching
frontage which usually welcomed visitors into many universities in Nigeria,
the toilet facilities in many of the hall of residence in the institutions
were in an unpleasant state. Across the country, students were lamenting
the poor state of toilets and bathrooms in higher institutions.

In their account, the Aliyu Makama Bida female hostel of the University of
Lagos, the toilet had unpleasant odour that could be perceived from the
walkway leading to the hostel, which was helped by the smell of urine and
garbage littering a corner of the toilet. One of the students, who gave his
name as Mary Otobong, said: Promises are made by the hall management at the
beginning of the year to improve on the facilities, but that they are yet
to be fulfilled.

She also said that students were made to fetch water to flush the toilet,
because the water system was faulty. Another student, Simi Omobode, whom
they said was studying social studies in the institution at the time of the
review, said that the toilets were in a terrible state. And that she
usually had to contain herself from defecating until she was at a
convenient place. Even when she said that she knew it was not good for her
system, she had no choice.

Omobode continued that the cleaners who were employed to see that the
toilets were kept clean hardly keep to the reason they were employed.
According to the source, at Madam Tinubu Hall of the university, which was
also a female hostel, student of educational studies, Ayomide Olabanji,
said: Sometimes, the toilets are messed up with human waste for days
without being washed. Taking our bath is usually a tug of war. The stench
is terrible. So we have to hold our breath while bathing. If there was
running water, it would help the situation.

The source continued that the story was not different from the male hotel;
they were too dirty that many would prefer to hold what they should have
given out freely from their systems till they get to a convenient place.

In the hostels it was noted: You can’t believe what goes on in Hall 1. When
it’s dawn, students come out to take their bath in the open. It is even
worse in Hall 2, where there is hardly a divide between the female and male
hostels; you can trust some of the boys will want to catch a glimpse. They
intentionally walk by to peep on the ladies who are taking their bath.

The story goes on: The toilets are nothing to write home about, and many of
the ladies prefer to use the alternative, by defecating in nylon bags and
flinging it across the walls; that is the in-thing and the best way to keep
away from getting infected. Sanitary facilities there are simply inadequate
and that’s why many prefer off-campus accommodation. In a room of four, you
have legal and illegal squatters, it is so bad, but the students just have
to move on until they get a better alternative.

Sanitation friendly-ethic in Nigerian schools is in sorry state. A visit to
a school in Bayelsa State, this reporter was faced with a very
scraggy-scruffy, dirty and soiled toilet. The toilet was a to

despondency. A friend who went to the Federal University of Technology
Owerri (FUTO), the Imo State University as well as their corresponding ones
in Uturu, Kwara, Abakiliki and Ekpoma etcetera, even said that their toilet
situations were better mentioned in the dream.

Open defecation has become a tradition amongst students and teachers in the
schools, which is against the World Health Organization (WHO) prescription
of a healthy living. In its report of 2004, WHO said: 88% of diarrhea
disease is accredited to hazardous water supply, derisory sanitation and
hygiene and that enhanced water provision reduces diarrhea by between 6%
and 25%. Improved sanitation decreases diarrhea by 32%.

This information was maintained by the scientific breakthrough that one
gram of feaces can contain 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1
thousand parasite cysts, and a hundred worm eggs. The CEO of Rural Africa
Water Development Project (RAWDP), a Nigerian Water and Sanitation NGO
based in Owerri, Imo State, said: The unsanitary conditions typical of many
school toilets send the wrong message to students about the importance of
sanitation and hygiene; schools can become ideal places to establish good
hygiene (and other) behaviours as well as to provide strong environmental
models that can serve as examples.

Perhaps, Nigerians forgot that children/students who learn good hygiene in
school, the source said, can also become important health promoters
everywhere especially at home. The RAWDP scrutinized further: There is no
doubt therefore that poor sanitation and its consequences particularly
ill-health adversely affects school participation, lowering enrollment
rates, increasing absenteeism, and contributing to poor classroom
performance and early school dropout.

The source also said that such decreases learning capacity as measured in
educational performance, outcomes, and productivity. The lack of
appropriate sanitary facilities may discourage students/pupils from
attending school; girls, who are menstruating, in particular, would rather
not go to school than have to deal with the lack of privacy.

According to a statement credited to UNICEF Specialist, Amos Kudzala, while
speaking at a two-day media dialogue on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
(WASH), in Enugu recently, said: Advocating for the provision of WASH
facilities in schools and hospitals across the country, he noted that every
child, rich or poor, has the right to survive, the right to health, the
right to access to improved water supply.

However, authorities believed that most of the toilet situations in the
schools were not their fault, even when some students volunteer to put up
some comatosed toilets in their schools, it was learnt that the students
still do not use them properly, especially students at the tertiary level. To
many of the students, sanitation is only a word that should be confined in
the Dictionary.

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