Teachers in Konshisa Local Government area of Benue State have called on corporate and non-profit organisations to save education in rural areas from total collapse.
Speaking at the ninth annual quiz competition organised by the DooyumDio Foundation (DDF), for secondary schools in Konshisha local government, representatives of the participating schools took turns to stress the need for urgent investment in infrastructure and human resources for public and private schools in rural areas.
"Currently, many of the teachers we have are PTA staff being paid by the school. The government is doing a lot but not enough," said Mr. Alexander Igbogo who led Government Secondary School, Gungul, to win last year's grand prize in the quiz competition.
Another teacher, Mr. Oliver Agber, said private organisations have not supported government enough in providing quality education at the grassroots.
"You will find that many of the programmes they (private sector) have are targeted at schools in the urban areas. But our children in the rural areas need to be well educated too.
"This is why I commend the DooyumDio Foundation (DDF) for bringing this quiz competition to us. I understand that they are based in Lagos so I am happy they are reaching out to rural schools. The children have really benefitted from this."
Commenting on the decision of the organisation to target rural schools, Founder of the DDF, Mr. Ernest Dio, asserted that there is no better way to uplift a rural community than by educating her young minds.
"When a people are educated, they are better positioned to make informed decisions and choices and to understand that there are consequences for the choices they make," Mr Dio said.
Since 2003, the DooyumDio Foundation has organised the quiz competition and offered secondary school scholarship to winners. Three years ago, the scholarship provision was extended to cover university education.
"I couldn't believe it when they said they would pay for my university education. I thank God for the opportunity," said Miriam Igbavenda.
Miss Igbavenda is one of three beneficiaries of the university scholarship scheme. She recently gained admission into the Benue State University to study English. The other two winners who would be benefiting from the scholarship are yet to gain admission into universities.
"Unfortunately, we just have Miriam in school now," said Mr. Dio. "The other two winners since we expanded the scholarship to cover university education have not gained admission into tertiary institutions. You know the admission challenge we have in the country and DDF doesn'tinfluence the processes. We pay for their higher education but that's all we can do."
At this year's competition held on Friday, 16th November at Korinya, 17 schools from various communities participated in the quiz. The N.K.S.T Girls Secondary Uavande emerged as the best performing school and following closely behind was Government Secondary School Tse-Agberagba while Government Secondary School Gungul came third in the schools category.
In the individual students category, Master Glad Deratiede of Shangev- Tiev Community Secondary School, Awajir, clinched the first prize while Miss Kpadoo Nenmo came second. The duo of Master Orun David of NKST Secondary School, Korinya, and Akor Joseph of Ikor Victory College, Iber, tied in third position.
A statement by the coordinator of the quiz programme, Mr. Terkimbi Tsavkase, indicated that DDF will soon take the competition to other local governments in Benue State and beyond.
"Yes. There are plans to expand. We only used Konshisha local government as test ground to avoid mistakes on a large scale," he said.