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Govt should give us subvention, not tax us —Bello

By Providence Obuh

Mrs. Nadia Bashir-Bello, is the Proprietress of Bellina Schools (Bellina College, Nursery and Primary Schools). She is an astute, hardworking and forthright woman, a disciplinarian, lover of children and a professional educator. Holds a B.Sc (Mass Comm.) PGDE, M.Ed (Admin). In this interview, she highlighted some of the challenges faced by good private schools in the country making recommendations on the way forward and urging government to aid private schools with subventions rather than tax them. Excerpt:

Most Nigerian parents take their children abroad to study due to a drop in educational standard

It’s very true that the standard of education has dropped drastically from my time till now, a lot of things need to be put in place, some of the parents do not have confidence in Nigeria, not just the educational system but in Nigeria as a whole. Many of the these countries parents take their children to, England and America, their educational system too is bad especially the junior education system is really bad, unless they go to expensive private schools and they don’t have the same culture and values that we have, they don’t have the same ambition and drives that we have. But unfortunately, many people don’t realise that until they get there and it is too late. The educational system in Nigeria is poor but the private schools have come to the rescue.

Microfinance interview pix
Mrs. Nadia Bashir-Bello

What is Belina doing differently?

We are doing our best to provide the kind of education that is global so that our children are most comfortable where ever they are in the world or where ever they go for further education. We are seeking the support of government, if there are more public schools more people will go to school, if there are more support from the government, for instance we who have private schools are having a lot of problems with the government and we are hoping we will get more support and that the government, should see us partners not as competitors, to see us as people trying to help to augment that which the government is giving.

They should not see us as cash-cow trying to take everything asking us for money all the time, asking us to do some exams we are not interested in, all sorts of rules and regulations trying to frustrate our efforts. Some of us are resilient because we are here as business people not only to make money but we have a passion for education, some of us does and some of us don’t. In Belina school we have a passion, we do all we can to make the children happy and successful and to be able to challenge their qualifications where ever they go in the world because we expect them not to stay in Nigeria only but to be able to feel comfortable wherever they go the world.

Employment of unqualified teachers by private schools

First of all I said some of us have a passion for education, we are not just in it for the money, some do not have a passion but they are there for the money, they don’t have any commitment or anything, they just want to make money and that is what matters to them. Sometimes you cannot blame some of these schools because there is an inspection team that goes round schools, why did they approve them, that means the government is a party to this. After approval, many a times they come to inspect this school, why haven’t they gone back to inspect those schools and see that they are not doing the right the thing, why are those schools still learning, is the government’s fault. If there are rules and regulations and there are no way to monitor those rules and regulations everybody does what they want so the government needs to monitor and stop giving approvals to schools that you would know for sure do not deserve the approval, there is even a government regulation that no school should be 500 meter from one another and yet they keep approving schools that are just next door to each other.

I blame the government and I also blame the level of education, sometimes you want to employ, you will interview probably 50 teachers with certificates from all sorts of Universities and they cannot even speak or write English, yet they have the paper qualification, sometime you wonder if they actually seat for exams, but they actually did. The educational system we are talking about is right up to the Tertiary not just primary or secondary. The kind of people that graduate from universities these days is appalling and that is why when people say there are no job I say there are lots of job but there are no people to fill the vacancies.

What could be the causes?
Sometimes out of frustration and desperation you recruit one or two people you know you shouldn’t whilst waiting for that person you know you are going to employ but again the government needs to look into the educational system. Because there are not enough Universities, many people try to get into the universities and many of them go through the back door and therefore those are the people we see out there to employ, some work so hard and with their result they don’t get anywhere and then we have all these quota system where you ask some people to answer one question and you give them admission where as other people would have answered almost all right and they don’t meet the quota because for their state the quota is so high.

Is it a crime to come from a state that many people believe in studying, do you know how many years it took that state to develop to that level and yet we keep giving the other states the advantages, it is not fair and because of that some students go through the back door to get into school.

Way forward

We need more universities, more monitoring and better people coming out of the universities, we need the government to be firm on the kind of schools they give approval, we need the government to stop charging us all sorts of things. They are supposed to be giving us some kind of money, say subvention and if they can’t do that they should commend our effort for trying our best and support us.

Some of us have stood the test of time, Bellina is about 30 years, we stood the test of time and there is no recognition anywhere, so I will say it again, we all have a part to play, the government has its part to play, even those who go into education because they want the business have a part to play. Even if you want to make it all about business, you need to get the right kind of people.

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