After a spell of sadness comes relief, joy and laughter. This was the situation at the Queens College, Lagos, Nigeria’s elite boarding school for girls, on Tuesday when the management, staff and pupils literally rolled out the drums to celebrate the institution’s 90th anniversary.
The bubbly atmosphere inside the crowded Main Assembly Hall, venue of the celebration, sharply contrasted with the gloom that descended on the campus a few months ago when a health crisis, which claimed the lives of three pupils in a row and caused many others to be admitted in hospitals for various ailments, threatened to engulf the college.
There was plenty of music, singing and dancing as several choirs, including one comprising a few teaching staff of the college, and the college band took turns to thrill the gathering.
The Principal, Chief Abiola Are, who assumed duties on February 27, right at the peak of the crisis, just could not restrain her happiness with the state of affairs in the institution.
Attributing Queen College’s recovery from the crisis to divine intervention, in an interview with our correspondent, Are said, “It was so challenging down here that you would think that was the end of the college. But God took over its affairs at a point and turned it around for the best. Everything is fine now.”
Smiling, she noted that the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Education, had made efforts to provide the college with new boreholes and water treatment plants to boost the supply and quality of water on campus.
“One of the boreholes is already completed. The second borehole, the sewage line and the treatment plants are still under construction. But they will be ready in 10 weeks. Impact Waters Limited is also supplying us potable water. So, the girls are getting good water. The environment is looking better and beautiful, thanks to members of the old girls of the college who renovated the hostels,” she said.
The principal said the management of the institution, parents of the pupils and the members of the Queens College Old Girls Association were working tirelessly to ensure that it recovered fully from the scars of the immediate past experience.
“I assure you that, physically, spiritually, even academically and socially, Queens College will bounce back into reckoning. We had fantastic results in the last WAEC and NECO examinations. All our pupils scored straight ‘A’s in the examinations. Some had as many as seven ‘A’s. I can’t recall any pupil scoring as low as a ‘C’ in any subject,” she said.
Obviously proud of her pupils, Are also said they were able to post such a brilliant performance in the examinations, in spite of all the challenges they were facing at school.
She said, “We still remain the largest girls’ school in Nigeria. We have a population of over 3,000 pupils here. It has been a tale of excellence in the education of the girl child in Nigeria since Queens College was founded in 1927. We have been passing on the torch of excellence from one set of pupils to another. And, by the Grace of God, the college will continue to aim higher in its pursuit of excellence.
“You can see the joy in the hearts of the pupils, the old girls, the parents, the teachers and the non-academic staff of the college. We are grateful to God for this.”
Also, she disclosed that the management of the institution had entered into partnerships with some health management personnel to ensure the maintenance of a high standard of hygiene within the environment.
“Now we have doctors who regularly visit the clinic here. They conduct constant medical tests and deworm our pupils. Also, we have other people who clean our sewage and keep the school environment clean at all times.
“We pay them to perform these tasks with money from the allocation we get from the Federal Government and subsidies from the Parent-Teacher Association.
“Nowadays we are always on our toes. Once beaten, two times shy, as they say. We have learnt our lessons and we cannot afford to be careless anymore,” she said.
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