The Nigerian government has undoubtedly made efforts to fight against the high rise of substandard private schools in the country, yet some schools keep springing up like weed.
Most parents send their children to private schools because they believe they offer quality education than state-owned schools. The main objection for the privatisation of schools was to remove the burden of the rising demands on public learning from the government.
Private education providers saw this as an opportunity to capitalize on the government’s failure at the expense of providing quality education.
The public authorities have also failed to monitor and regulate the mushrooming of schools, and this has paved way for schools without licences, hiring of untrained teachers and absence of quality education.
Likewise, most of these so-called “government approved” schools do not adhere to the operational guidelines of the state government in offering quality teaching and learning in a standardised environment.
The guiding principle for setting up primary schools in Nigeria by the ministry of education stipulates that at commencement, schools must have a minimum of a library, three VIP toilets, computer and health facilities and playground among others.
Investigation reveals most of these schools operate on their own terms and conditions. Three private schools in Ifako and one in Ketu were visited by Information Nigeria to expose substandard private schools.
Foladem Nursery and Primary School operates in a four-bedroom bungalow and a miniature building connected it. The school also serves as a tutorial centre in the evening, after school hours.
Going into the school, I was greeted by a job vacancy signpost, suggesting that the school is understaffed. The painting on the building had already begun to fade and which means over the years, the school hasn’t undergone any maintenance or renovations, despite charging a development fee of 1,000 Naira per term.
One of the teachers, a young dark-skinned man, coming out of the miniature building approached me and directed me to the main building where I was asked to sit on a long wooden bench, to wait for the proprietress to attend to me.
Sitting by the corridor, also known as the reception, I could only see male teachers around. The proprietress, a woman in her 40s, who had just finished taking a class invited me into her office.
The office, clustered with plastic chairs and pile of papers on her desk, she handed me the school fees bill, while asking a couple of questions.
Asked whether after school lessons are not compulsory since the school closes by 3, proprietress said I’ll have to meet with one of the teachers to bargain the price.
Being my first time doing investigation, I left the school area without getting adequate information.
Another school, Sunjem private schools, located in a two-storey building, is partitioned in two parts. Save for the signboard, the main entrance was situated in a tight corner, making it seem like the school management is trying to hide the building.
A part of the building was solely dedicated to crèche and nursery school, while the second part was for the primary and secondary… or so I thought. I was taken to the administration building where I spoke with the proprietor whose office was located in the corner of an open space.
From my observations, Basic 1 classroom had no door, so it was easy to see the teacher make use of her phone after she had occupied the children with classwork.
“For new intakes in basic 3, we charge 58,000 Naira, and this includes registration fee, uniform and sports wear fee, development and tuition fee,” the proprietor said.
I asked to take a look around the school. At the back of the building, is a shed attached to the building made with wood and roofing sheets. The building is for basic 3-5. a quick glimpse into this building reveals that the classrooms have been demarcated with boards and I learnt only two teachers had been assigned to take the three classes.
The man, whom the proprietor had led me to, happened to be one of the teachers and he said the students have to go to the back to the main building if they need to use the toilet.
Outside the gate, there was a building directly behind it, which is said to be the hall where functional activities take place.
The third school, Opel international Islamic school is situated on the 2nd floor of a building Schools are responsible for providing a safe and comfortable environment for learning. If a child is harmed, the school can be sued.
Different classes were being taught in the same room and it was quite noisy. One would wonder how students could cope in such a learning environment. Inside the three-bedroom apartment, the proprietress had her personal office, close to two rooms dedicated for learning. From the look of things, the school lacked a library, sickbay or other necessities for it to qualify as a school.
At the fourth school, one of the teachers (Miss Sarah, whom I knew, pleaded to keep the school anonymous to avoid losing her job.)
In the school located at Ketu, a number of five teachers had been divided to handle 10 classes. In case you are wondering how this is possible, the classes are usually merged if the students are few. This means crèche is in its own room while the kindergarten class 1 and 2 are merged to form one class, and it follows suit, Nursery 1 and 2, primary 1, primary 2 and 3, 4 and 5.
A teacher teaches all subjects, regardless of their specific area of expertise. However, in a situation where a teacher can’t speak Yoruba, the classes are merged so one teacher teaches them.
Miss Sarah described the quality of education in the school as ‘backward’. Giving her reasons, she said; “The teachers are not trained professionals, so their salaries are poor and this compromises the quality of tuition being delivered in the schools.
“The teaching materials are old and we do not go for trainings.
“Our method of teaching is old and we use textbooks as far as 15 years.
“The furniture are not standard.”