Itori Ewekoro School in Ogun State, two weeks ago before Oando Foundation built a block of six classrooms to replace it.
By Dayo Adesulu, Tare Youdeowei & Elizabeth Uwandu
A MAJOR factor that determines a child’s learning is the environment where such a child studies. Carol B. Hillman while writing on creating a conducive learning climate for the early childhood years corroborated this claim when she said, “A positive learning climate in a school for young children is a composite of many things.” According to her, such composite for learning should include an attitude that respects children, a place where children receive guidance and encouragement from the responsible adults around them.
Others are, an environment where children can experiment and try out new ideas without fear of failure, an atmosphere that builds children’s self-confidence so they dare to take risks, and an environment that nurtures a love of learning.
Vanguard Learning findings revealed that many of these learning qualities are missing in many public schools as students learn in an unpleasant environment, overcrowded classes and poorly furnished classrooms. Note that overcrowded classrooms are not peculiar to primary and secondary schools; they are also applicable to our tertiary institutions.
In the course of filing this story, our visit to some schools revealed that the population of primary and secondary school students in a class ranges between 78 and 130; just as the number of students in a class at tertiary level ranges from 130 to 233. Students and teachers who spoke with Vanguard lamented the negative impact on their learning and teaching performance.
Emmanuel Aminu, a Senior Secondary School student of Gaskiya College, Ijora Badia, Lagos disclosed that students in almost all classes from A-G in the school have no seats to sit on, except the science students who have seats due to their small numbers. He said, “we in the Science department, SS1A and SS1B have seats. But other departments such as Arts and Social Science rarely have enough seats.
“In SS1B, we are 92 in a class, while SS1A has 91. For other departments, I can’t tell you their numbers because I am not in their classes.”
At Itori Ewekoro School in Ogun State, a state owned school, the experience students shared with Vanguard was appalling, as about 1,000 students studied in a dilapidated building, until Oando Foundation came to their rescue and built a block of six classrooms for them a few weeks ago.
On his part, James Imo, an SS3A student of Cardoso High School gave a gory picture of how students either had the option of sitting on the floor or bringing seats from home. He said, “we are 94 in my class, but because we are preparing for the WAEC exam, some of the students do not come to class. Majorly, all senior secondary classes seldom have seats. For those that do not have seats, they have the option of sitting on the floor or bringing seats from home.”
Some private schools are not left out. Laide Akinyomi, a JSS2 student at Nodos International School at Barracks Bus stop, Ojo, Lagos said there are 32 students in her class. She frowned at such number in a class, arguing that the class gets rowdy, while the teacher gets upset and spends half of her allotted time shouting on the students to ‘keep quiet.’
Continuing she said:, “I feel that if we are less in the class, our teacher would shout less and I will understand better and invariably perform better in class because my teacher is happier and less stressed.”
Chigozie who is in Basic 4 at Nodos International School, said he enjoys learning in congested classes. He said: “We are 42 in our class and I like it because when we make noise no one gets caught as we all pretend to be reading when the teacher comes our way. The downside of this is that when the teacher really gets upset, she flogs the whole class. I like the number we have in class, I like my friends, it does not affect me at all. Those that are too serious can move to the front of the class.”
Ganiu Osaremen of the Federal Government College, narrated her ordeal at the unity school. She said, “In my JSS1, we were 120. Then there was no big boy or big girl, we were all equal, we were still afraid of our new teachers. In JSS 2, those who could not cope in the school left and we were reduced to 109. By this time, the class was divided into the serious ones in front, the average students in the middle and the noise makers at the back. All the noises and distractions came from the back. It didn’t really disturb me, it kept the class lively, but I could tell the teachers were not happy with the number and it made them very mean.”
Odion Edosa, a primary 4 teacher in Ihogbe College, Oredo, Benin City, a state-owned school shared his experience as a class teacher of 78 students in a class. He said, “it is tough, especially since I spend a lot of time getting them to sit quiet and listen. Fortunately, the cane is always at hand but flogging is tiring. How many students will I flog, how long will I continue flogging? I mostly feel sorry for those teaching younger classes. What can we do, we must continue to teach.”
For tertiary institutions, the burden is no less. Though classes are divided by levels, 100 level can have 50 to 2,000 students taking a particular course. The highest numbers are in core courses and General Studies. This number would almost double for part-time students who are lectured alongside full-time students. Diploma, pre-degree and post-graduate classes are not left out at all, most run simultaneously.
Dr. David Edos, a lecturer at the University of Benin speaks of his ordeal in classrooms. He said, “Because of congestions, students find it difficult to concentrate. When the classrooms become so hot, I find it difficult to cope with the heat and get distracted with complaints. So to be heard, I have to shout at the top of my lungs. For afternoon classes, those who cannot cope stay away from class.
“The congested classrooms also mean heavy workload. In 100 level, there are 130, 200 level – 233, 300 level – 232, 400 level – 177. I teach five courses in undergraduate classes; one in 100, one in 200, two in 300 and one in 400. In part-time, I teach four courses, that’s nine courses in all. This is in addition to the 21 students whose project I am supervising.”