The Benue Government says Government College Katsina-Ala, the oldest secondary school in the state, is undergoing ” massive renovation” to give it a facelift.
The state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Makurdi that the school that was established in 1915 is the oldest in the state.
Ityavyar, however, dismissed speculations that the academic standard in the school had fallen.
He said that the structures in the school were old but were ” under renovation”.
He said the Old Boys Association of the school were also assisting in the renovation.
Ityavyar also said that the State Government had constituted a committee to investigate the issues surrounding land encroachment in the school, saying the committee had already submitted its recommendations.
“The school as you can see, is very old, so old schools usually have the challenge of decayed infrastructure. There is every need to regularly renovate the classrooms and dormitories.
“We have just completed the renovation of Government College, Makurdi, which was also in real bad shape, ” he said.
According to him, government has commenced the process of issuing Certificate of Occupancy to all government schools in the state to prevent land encroachment.
NAN reports that GCK was founded as Benue School in 1915 by Rev. Bargery and originally sited at Wannue in present Tarka Local Government Area of the state.
NAN further reports that it transformed into Benue Provisional School in 1952, Government Secondary School in 1960 and Government College, Katsina-Ala in 1981.
However, in separate interviews with NAN, former students of the school said both academic standard and physical structures had deteriorated in the school.
The ex-students said the school was a shadow of its former self.
Prof Tor Iorapuu, Vice Chancellor, Benue State University (BSU) Makurdi, an old boy of the school, said both academic and infrastructure standards of the school had deteriorated.
He said the old boys were currently renovating the old structures in the school.
He said he would not send his children to the school owing to its fallen standards and decay in infrastructure.
“Our school infrastructure were second to none but all that have deteriorated. As I speak to you now, only recently, retired Lt.-Gen.TY Danjuma, an old student of the school, donated N60m for its rehabilitation.
“Also, my set, set 1980, is currently renovating the Principal’s Office and Staff Room. Each time I pass there I weep. The place has been defaced with shops. You hardly know that there is a school there”.
The VC recalled that during their time they had teachers from all over the world coming to teach them which also showed the quality of teaching and instructions they received.
“We had teachers from UK, America, Ghana and Cameroon; so you can understand in terms of quality what you will get, but certainly not today.
Also speaking, another former student, Isaac Iyorhen, said both academic standards and infrastructure of the school had fallen.
Iyorhen, an Engineer, said:”I won’t recommend that school for any of my children or relatives’’.
Iyorhen blamed the dilapidation partly on insecurity in the area and appealed to all to come to the aid of the school.
He said everything was good for learning during their time at the school from which he graduated in 1982.