By Ebele Orakpo
WHY should the teachers allow these children to stand outside the school compound with all these vehicles zooming past? It is dangerous, they could be killed,â€ noted a passenger by name, Suzanne in the Oshodi-bound commuter bus as he sighted some children in a nearby school standing outside the school gate.
â€œIt is really dangerous. If they want to punish them for coming late to school, why donâ€™t they send them home instead of allowing them to stand outside the gate and very close to the road?â€asked Toby.
â€œThat would have been the most sensible thing to do. Let themÂ in and punish them or send them home,â€ stated Kelvin. As the journey progressed, another group of students were sighted in sports wears running back to the school from wherever they had gone for sports as their school had no playground, â€œHavenâ€™t you noticed that most of these schools have no space at all?â€ asked Suzanne to which Israel replied: â€œMost of them do not have licences. They are not approved by the government.â€
â€œSays who? So how come they are in operation without the relevant authorities blinking an eye?â€ queried Ade.
â€œThe Lagos State Government shut down some unapproved schools last year but people cried foul. They said the government was persecuting them and all that stuff,â€ said Toby.
â€œIt is sad. When you get to most of these schools, you see overÂ 60 children crammed in one small classroom that should ordinarily take about 25 students. So tell me, how do you expect them to learn? How do you expect a teacher to mark the scripts of over 700 students?â€asked Joe.
At this point, Ade who said he had taught in one of such schools narrated his experience. â€œI taught for one year in a school and it wasnâ€™t a pleasant experience. First of all, the classrooms were way too small for the number of students so movement was restricted. Paying attention to individual students was out of the question.
I would just go into a class, teach them and leave. To ask if they understood was to fulfill all righteousness because they would all chorus â€˜YESâ€™ so that the teacher would just leave them alone and the teacher too is eager to leave and get some fresh air,â€ stated Ade.
â€œThat is why private schools have taken over because government over the years has failed in its duty of providing standard schools for the people. Anyone with little money now can look for a three-bedroom flat and before you say Jack Robinson, school don start be dat. They only need to grease the palms of some people. Everybody is looking for ways of making money and one of the surest ways is running a school or a church,â€ stated Kelvin. â€œUnder normal circumstances, a school should have standard play ground, well ventilated and equipped classrooms, at most 25 students to a teacher etc.
â€œI heard that some of those schools that were shut opened again after the owners must have gone round to meet with the right people. Some simply reopened using a different name, trust our people,â€ noted Toby
â€œIn the good old days, schools were never sited in residential areas. They were built in the outskirts of town so that students would not be distracted by all the hustle and bustle of city life,â€ said Suzanne. Continuing she said: â€œAnyway, we must commend the present administration for the ongoing refurbishment in public schools.
That would definitely go a long way in revamping the public school system and I believe if government leads the way, all the mushroom private schools would fall in line or be axed. You either meet the standard or you are shut down for good. The atmosphere must be made conducive for the children to leam. Why do you think our people who were not doing particularly well here end up doing very well when they go abroad to study?â€