By Emmanuel Edukugho
For prospective proprietors seeking to establish private schools in Lagos State, the processes involved in obtaining approval are not as cumbersome as before.
Mr. Ibikun Daramola, Deputy Director, Private Education, Ministry of Education, Lagos State, disclosed the liberalization of the guidelines at a summit of private school owners held recently at Nigeria Employersâ€™ Consultative Association (NECA) House, Ikeja.
Acknowledging that the congress came at a time when private schools are going through transformation in the state, he noted that the journey towards making Lagos State a MEGA City and State begins from the foundation laid today by all of us.
â€œHowever, the Ministry is aware of the geometrical increase of private schools in the state, which has necessitated a complete re-ordering and monitoring of all private schools in the state.â€
Before listing the steps to follow for a private school to be approved, he referred to one renowned American in the field of Educational Management, Carl Grant, who in 1971, wrote â€œ…the education of a person takes place both within and outside the school. Therefore, teachers need to work with and understand the community in order to both appreciate and influence the learning experience that students have outside school.â€
â€œIn education, the Inspectorate and Monitoring Units now called Quality Control Agencies, control the practice of Education in Lagos State.â€
Daramola said that the government has already put in place some comprehensive guidelines on the establishment of private nursery/primary; secondary and vocational schools in the state, and it is the duty of prospective proprietor to obtain a copy from the Ministry of Education and comply.
â€œHowever, let me give some advice. In Lagos State, a prepared guidelines on the establishment of private schools is available for prospective owners of such schools. I know that many prospective proprietors are more interested in establishing Nursery/Primary schools.
This project is a viable option with very little capital outlay,â€ Creche is not among, those running it do so at their own risk.
The Deputy Director enumerated the following procedures.
* Building: The preferable type of building is a purpose-built bungalow building with either a â€œUâ€ or an â€œLâ€ shape that would enhance adequate ventilation and space for sports and games. Although there could be one storey building, provided that the nursery section occupies the ground floor.
The minimum number of classrooms is 15, including special rooms such as library, sickbay, administrative office computer room. A minimum of eight (8) toilets for pupils and at least two (2) toilets for teachers be made available.
The classrooms should be painted with bright/warm colour, have ornamentals and flowers. Some equipments such as balls, skittles, swings, crossbars play pens should be provided. Fire extinguishers must be available in all schools.
For the purpose of smooth lesson delivery, instructional materials like large magnetic white boards/chalk board, charts, relia, posters should be available in every classroom. Furniture must be adequate, comfortable and child-friendly. They include low tables and single seats for pupils in the Nursery, dual desks and benches for those in the primary. Teachersâ€™ tables and chairs should be ideal and comfortable. While electronic/computerized boards are good, but very expensive. There should be laboratories for physics, chemistry, introtech, biology, fine arts studio.
Registration: The first step is to apply to the Ministry of Education and request for a Name Search to avoid duplication of names – not used before. Three names can be given.
Second step is site inspection by officers of the Ministry of Education. Thereafter, the prospective proprietor may be advised to obtain an Approval/Registration form if your premises was considered suitable for school business. This costs N25,000 only.
The third step is Approval inspection by officers of the Education Ministry and other relevant agencies to be carried out after the purchase of registration form. Site inspection officers are seasoned professionals, on constructive visits and to give advice that will help you.
Keeping the statutory records by the school some essential records must be kept by all the private schools.
These include: Approved Building plan; Recommended text books; Tax clearance certificates for teachers and proprietor of the school; curricula for all the teaching subjects; National and State Policies on Education; and WAEC, NABTEB and NECO.
According to Daramola, it is very important to comply with the Lagos State Guidelines on the establishment of private schools so that your school is not classified as unapproved.
He cautioned proprietors not to pay money to any official and that all the aforementioned steps attract some stipulated fee which should be paid into Government designated banks.
â€œPresently, the processes involved in obtaining approval are not as cumbersome as before. It is presumed that you might obtain your approval within three (3) months.â€
He reminded private school owners that the closure of illegal schools in Lagos State is a task that all well-meaning citizens of the state must assist government in doing.
â€œThe future of our children depends so much on the type and quality of education we give them now.
We cannot fold our hands and allow sub-standard private schools destroy the future of these innocent children.â€
He pledged governmentâ€™s readiness to continue to encourage private participation and investment in education.
â€œThere are over 10,000 schools in Lagos State, and more than 3,000 secondary schools or colleges. Many people are just out there without having anything to do with education, hence government has put in place these comprehensive guidelines. Building is first. In those days, children were learning under trees. But the products of those schools are our leaders today.â€
Pastor Joe Ejenavi, President, Association For Formidable Educational Development (AFED) in his address at the 2010 Annual Congress, said Private school owners have done a lot to complement government efforts.â€