* ‘We need to feed the imagination of these young ones’
* Delta State Government urged to address teacher shortage in rural schools
* Bridge gaps for Isoko language textbooks, teaachers cry for help
By Godwin Okondo
IN response to the books donation drive Oleh Book Club embarked upon some months ago, a social-cultural group, Enyaharo Isoko, embraced the initiative and procured over 1,000 literature books for children for onward distribution to some primary schools in both Isoko North and South LGAs of Delta State. It was part of the group’s social responsibility to bridge the gap in book supply in schools. And ss the economy bits harder, parents and guardians are struggling to provide the recommended textbook needs for their children and wards much more boos not on the syllabus.
Largely driven by the group’s president, Mr. Amos Iwary, and its Chief Whip and Coordinator of Enyaharo Isoko Book Project, Mrs. Akpezi Anita Agary-Oke, with special attention to the young ones, the exercise was hailed by both teachers and pupils in the schools that got books, as a laudable one. They offered prayers for the group amidst excitement and urged other Isoko groups to emulate the gesture of Enyaharo Isoko while also asking the group to do more to lift Isoko by investing in the future of the young ones.
While handing the books to the headteachers of about 22 primary schools, writer, journalist and Coordinator of Oleh Book Club, Mr. Anote Ajeluorou, urged the teachers to create revolving libraries for the books, so they are loaned to the pupils periodically for every child to get a chance to read them. Written by Mr. Henry Edero, the six donated titles – ‘Dan and Ami’, ‘Bako and His Peacock’, ‘Sweet Mother’, ‘Lost Godmine’, ‘Royal Camel’, and ‘Lost Crown’ – are fascinating children’s stories that will tickle the imagination of the pupils to dream up new worlds. There are exercises at the end of each chapter to test the comprehension skills of the pupils.
Primary schools that received books from Enyaharo Isoko include Otor-Aviara Primary School (P/S), Aviara, Owhawhonya P/S, Araya, Aya P/S, Araya, Otuwoma P/S, Ewhokpaka, Aka P/S, Ukpude, Eto P/S, Ivori-Irri, Abriku P/S, Ada-Irri, Ewoma P/S, Ivrogbo-Irri, Elo-Oghene P/S, Bethel, Ellu P/S, Ellu, Ovie P/S, Ellu, Ebe P/S, Ovrode, Aradhe P/S, Aradhe, Uthatho P/S, Akiowhe, Azagba P/S, Otor-Owhe, and Ovo P/S, Otor-Owhe. Others are Emehwa P/S, Emevor, Ekrovie P/S, Otor-Iyede, Akokotu P/S, Okomoro,Owholomu P/S, Okomoro, Olomoro P/S, Olomoro, Ogri P/S, Uzere, and Uzere Primary School, Uzere.
The message from the coordinator was the same to all the schools’ administrators who got books: ”Reading is a lifelong endeavour that starts from an early age; this is the right age to immerse these children in reading. In the olden days, children were told folktales during moonlight sessions by their parents and grandparents, tales that made the imagination of children soar. But with modernization that includes television, games and smartphones, the ancient pastime of storytelling by parents has been lost. But thank God for good literature books like the ones we have brought to you. They will help fill that void and enable these children a window to the world, to see beyond their local environment and make them dream big dreams. That’s what good literature books outside the classroom work does to children. Reading widely did it for me; it opened my imagination; it can also do the same for these children.
”We all know that books are expensive these days. Parents are burdened by so many demands and can barely provide the standard textbooks recommended for their children much more buy other reading materials for them like these books. That is what Enyaharo Isoko has done, to step in and fill the gap. So these books will go a long way to address the book famine in our schools. Allow the children use them wisely; monitor how they use them, so they derive maximum benefits from them. That’s the least Enyaharo Isoko asks you, as teachers who are shaping the lives of these little ones. Thank you for receiving us.”
However, two notable responses from some teachers stood out. One was that teachers posted to the rural areas hardly stayed to do their job, as they put in for transfer and opted for more urban areas, thus leaving the pupils with less than required number of teachers. It was pathetic at Ukpude, as only two teachers were at work teaching six classes. They had combined three classes: primaries 1- 3 and primaries 4 – 6 between them into just two classrooms for instruction. One one board were the Arithmetical works for the combined three classes of primaries 4 – 6.
Another complaint was that there were no resource materials like textbooks to teach the Isoko language even though teachers were eager to teach the subject. In other places, it was teacher apathy to the subject that is denying the pupils the benefit of being taught their mother tongue. Indeed, the scarcity of teachers also dovetails into Isoko language not being taught on account of teacher apathy and dearth of teaching aids for the subject. In fact, some teachers expressed disappointment that the books donated were not specifically Isoko language textbooks that would have aided them in teaching the subject effectively to the pupils. They urged Enyaharo Isoko and other book donors to return quickly with Isoko language textbooks for the pupils.
Before setting out for the book distribution exercise, Enyaharo Isoko president, Mr. Iwary, had tasked the coordinator of Oleh Book Club to be diligent in the task to ensure as many schools as possible got a share of books, saying, ”We need to feed the imagination of these young ones.” He said Enyaharo Isoko would continue to be at the forefront of making life meaningful for people living in Isoko homeland, and urged sons and daughters of Isoko worldwide to do what they could to bridge the development gap in the homeland. Iwary also noted that while government would always do its bit to bring development to the Isoko ethnic nation, it behooves Isoko sons and daughters to also execute development initiatives back home to lift the people from abject poverty.
Earlier, Oleh Book Club coordinator also delivered copies of the recommended English language textbooks for JSS 1 – 3 and Mr. Ajeluorou’s ‘Igho Goes to Farm’ which the MD/CEO of Zee Media Services Limited, Mrs. Agarry-Oke, bought for her alma mater, Emore Grammar School, Oleh, to the Principal, Mr. Anthony Edheka. Last May when Oleh Book Club held its first reading event in the school, the principal had shown him the school library with its empty shelves. Ajeluorou had promised the club would embark on book donation campaign to help equip schools in Isoko with books. Edheka had expressed gratitude to both Mrs. Oke for donating books to his school and to Oleh Book Club for spearheading the book donation initiative.