By Godfrey Bivbere, Ediri Ejoh & Nene Otohinoyi
At a time when parents whose wards in private schools across the country are paying through their noses to keep the pupils in school, a private school – Ancore Life Primary School, located at Iyagbe a remote village in an island about 25 minutes boat ride from Ojo market in Lagos, is not only educating its students without collecting school fees from them but is also giving them free lunch daily.
Vanguard Metro VM, reporters had gone to the island community to investigate an alleged illegal ship to ship transfer of petroleum products mid sea in the area when they discovered the school. The school which is run by a missionary, Pastor Gbenga Kuti, has about 105 pupils. It has two buildings which serve as classrooms while the third building serves as accommodation for proprietor and his wife.
While one of the buildings, a four classrooms apartment is in a fairly habitable condition, the other two including the one where Kuti and his family live, are thatch houses.
The school which started in the mid 90’s, has six teachers including the headmaster. The headmaster, Mr. S. A. Williams, told Vanguard Metro that when the school started, they were collecting N2,000 from each pupil as fees. He explained that parents withdrew their wards each time they were sent out of school and this necessitated the adoption of new measures to retain them..
“We discovered that any pupil sent home did not come back, even after we had visited their parents. We had to go back to beg them to allow their children back to school. After several of such incidents, we decided to scrap the payment of school fees,” Williams explained.
Our reporters accosted a 13-year-old primary six pupil of the school who identified herself as Abu Bose to find out the quality of education they were receiving.
She was given a copy of Vanguard Newspapers which she read with ease. Bose did not only impress with her reading ability but surprised VM with the ease with which she pronounced difficult words.
Being a privately managed institution that is not supported by the government, Vanguard Metro asked the proprietor where he gets the funds to keep the school afloat as well as provide lunch (rice) for the pupils on daily basis. Pastor Kuti explained that they depend on contributions from individuals and churches to run the school. For instance, a man who visited the school and was impressed with what he saw, is currently paying the salaries of two teachers in the school.
But at Salvation Army Primary School, a state government -owned school located in Olomometa community a few minutes walk from the Ancore Life Primary School, the story is the opposite. The school presents a picture of total decay and indiscipline.
The two classrooms and office building in the school had no roof on them. VM did not see a single teacher on ground when we visited the school at a time they were supposed to be in session. The pupils were seen playing while some others were being immunized by health officials from Ojo Local Government Area. Only the school’s gate man and clerical officer who identified himself as Mr. Ahiabb Seth were around to take care of about 150 pupils.