WIth the rise in population over the years, the world Bank says, from approximately 140 million in 2006, 162 million in 2011 , to 174 million in 2013 and predicted 221 million by 2020, every aspect of the nation has experienced rapid change.
The education sector is not left out. The increase in primary and secondary education providers is most understandable since the population of Nigeria is constantly on the rise.
There has also been an upsurge in sub-standard schools owing to the fact that a viable and progressive market has been identified in the education sector.
Since great things start from the scratch and such schools cater to the needs of a segment of Nigeria’s teeming population, one cannot outrightly write off these schools as they provide recourse to parents and guardians as public schools are overflowing with students. A booming sector does not, however, justify the conditions in which some schools operate.
Upon investigation, Vanguard Learning came across a school that was constructed on the foundation of a one room apartment. With the school walls made of plywood, there is very minimal movement room and there is no playground.
A building away, a three- bedroom flat at the back of a compound had been converted to a school. It was gathered that the school started with the owner living in one of the rooms, “business” boomed and the owner moved out to rent a flat elsewhere. As is the trend, little or no space is available for the children.
Their graduation ceremonies are held on a small portion of the street. There are in fact, a large number of schools being run in three-bedroom flats and kiosk-like structures in the state and the nation at large.
Parents deserve the protection of the government by way of ensuring only government approved schools exist or the populace is enlightened as to the government approved schools available to them.
Windows for ventilation
The major issue on ground is identifying a government approved school besides a notice tucked nicely beneath the name of the school. On the requirements for setting up a school, Vanguard Learning gathered that it involves at least a 15-classroom block – which includes a wide corridor and large windows for ventilation, sick bay, laboratories, qualified teachers, quiet environment and grounds.
The latter could serve as playground, assembly ground or sports field. Mr. Adesina Adelaja of the Federal Ministry of Education Inspectorate, Abeokuta added that to get an approval, a school is to invite the zonal school board to visit the site and upon inspection, approve the school if the school meets the requirements of the board.”
He further stated that “what is prevalent is the setting up of schools, upon considerable success, expansion follows, then getting proper government approval may follow.”
Currently, parents do not have a means of verifying the approval state of their children or ward’s school.
Because the schools’ syllabus and calendar tally with those of government schools, Mrs. Edith Oduka, a mother of two children, one in primary and another in secondary school, is assured that her children’s schools are government approved.
Having been around for long and being well established, Madam Ozom knows her child’s school is government approved. To this, Mr Tornyie Lezigha, a parent and teacher at Federal Government College, Port Harcourt, advised that “parents should not be carried away by beauty and go to the state zonal school board or state ministry to confirm the status of the prospective school. They can also make reference to Corporate Affairs Commission to support their investigation.”
Both parents, as well as several others, lack a credible means of knowing if their children’s schools or prospective schools, are approved by government. Mrs. Oduka said that she had personally not seen a published list of government approved schools but had heard that it had been published about three years ago.
Madam Ozom said that such a list does not exist. With a plea for annual or bi-annual publication of government approved schools, parents and guardians declared that if a list is published regularly, and they have access to it, they would ensure that they do not patronize mushroom schools because they want the best for their children and wards, since government approved private schools would operate at par with federal and state schools. (Vanguard)
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