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EXCLUSIVE: The scandal of illegal, substandard schools in Nigeria

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To evaluate how schools are thriving in Nigeria, 9news Nigeria visited private schools to uncover the factors responsible for the decline in the quality and standard of education in Nigeria. Disguising as an uncle attempting to find a great school for his ward, 9news investigative reporter perused private schools in Oyo and Ogun States. His findings unearth substandard private schools with ramshackle structures; inadequate and unprofessional teachers; students receive poor education. Odunsi writes… 

The name Royal Group of Schools should ordinarily invoke the picture of a magnificent school with good facilities and services.

But the school, sited in a fairly remote community in Abeokuta is only topnotch in its name. This primary school is located in a small two bedroom flat which is also the residential apartment of the proprietor.

How students can study in this type of milieu, where different classes are taught in the same room, could, indeed, be a topic of PhD thesis.

The school has a number of four teachers, whom, due to understaffing, split themselves among the various classes. One begins to brood over how the four members of staff are proficient in all the ten subjects mandatory to be taught in primary schools.

Learning in such an environment would obviously be a herculean task for the pupils who risk having a constricted worldview because of the lack of educational infrastructure in the school.

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Findings revealed that the school lacks clinic or first aid facility. Moreover, the pupils share same restroom facility with residents of the ‘recklessly-built bungalow.

Other vital facilities for an ideal operation of a school such as a library, playground, administrative block, and examination or assembly halls clearly are a luxury that these poor pupils cannot even imagine.

One of the teachers, a young, dark-skinned man, takes me around the school environment while I asked questions. As this was ongoing, a middle-aged woman, who had been carrying herself with the swag of a proprietress, walks towards us.

The proprietress, a plump, light-skinned lady, probably in her early 40s, showed no remorse for the pitiable condition of the school and its operation. She insisted the school is of a high standard in spite of its dilapidated state.

“You cannot use the school environment to review the quality of education we churn out here. This is our fourth year and having graduated two sets of primary six students into secondary school, we feel satisfied with such lofty achievement”.

Just like Royal Group of Schools, Buchard International School appears to be the same feat. Both schools have lots of things in common from the pompous-sounding name to the fact that they are both located in a residential apartment, and both have no sign boards announcing their existence.

Located in Asero area in Abeokuta, Buchard International School encompasses all that is wrong with shoddy schools. The school is situated near a motor park and yes, it has no fence.

Unfortunately, the school is bereft of basic requirements it needs to function accurately. Save for chairs, tables, and chalkboard, both the interior and the exterior of the apartment does not have a striking semblance of a school.

But the proprietor of the school does not see anything wrong in the poor educational setting of his school as he repeatedly canvasses the reporter to bring his ward to the school. “For a child that is in primary three we charge N40, 000 per term,” He said complacently.

Consequently, expecting such a school to have a library, sick bay or other requirements that would make for a standard school would amount to building castles in the air.

Laws guiding the establishment of private schools

While the guiding rule for setting up primary schools in Nigeria by the ministry of education stipulates that at commencement, they should have a minimum of a library, three VIP toilets, computer and health facilities and playground among others, these schools which have functioned for several years do not have such facilities.

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Other minimum standard mandated by the education department that this type of schools lack comprise two hectares of land, three classrooms of 9m by 12m in size, big assembly hall, administrative block, water utility, and farmland, among others.

The case is parallel in Oyo State: Most of the private schools are located in residential apartments; insecure places; and are without competent teachers, thus graduating bad products with no value to the society.

Residents of Ibadan have condemned in totality, the rate at which substandard schools are bobbing up in neighbourhoods across the Oyo State capital. Findings evince that a lot of these private schools function without names or any signboard in order to beat government officials charged with monitoring them.

Also, the buildings of these shoddy schools are without a doubt, the residential houses of the proprietors/proprietresses, which additionally function as beer parlours in the evening and churches at weekends. The rooms are partitioned into small sizes and the pupils are packed into the small room to receive lessons. It was also gathered that some of the schools existed without computer laboratories.

Mr Babajide Olukoya, a civil engineer in Ibadan, in an informal chat with the reporter, decries the rise of shoddy schools operating in the Dugbe axis, without government approval. He further noted that in most of these schools, “students are asked to bring N100 to school every Friday for chalk and another N50 to be paid for extra morals. Four textbooks are required and most times, no single student has those textbooks. They pay N1,500 for English studies, Yoruba, N1000; Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal reasoning is N1,500, Handwork, N300; and Examination/PTA Levy is N800.”

Further investigation revealed that many of these schools do not have the school curriculums that should guide what they tutor to their pupils, and while they are often understaffed, many of these schools engage the services of school certificate holders as teachers.

Indisputably, the proprietors of these schools are people who do not see education as a social investment which should not be guided by the profit motive alone. Rather, they see it as an avenue to line their wallets and are too inclined to cut corners and cost, not caring what effect their actions might have on their pupil’s future.

While these type of schools typically do not charge large fees, usually between N6,000 to N15, 000 per term, they seek to maximize profit by having many pupils, while skimping on infrastructure and paring down essential costs.

This is why such schools, apart from failing to provide good educational infrastructure, employ incompetent teachers who take salaries as low as N8,000 and are expected to teach several subjects.

A businesswoman at Ring Road axis, who pleaded anonymity, said, “The establishment of substandard schools in our environs is becoming very worrisome to us as these schools have taken over the entire state. The most annoying thing is that they don’t occupy more than a three-bedroom flat. During break time, the students play in the corridor in front of the school. It’s time the government put an end to these so that we won’t have a complete breakdown in the education sector.”

Efforts to get the reaction of the President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Mr Yomi Otubela proved abortive as several calls and text messages put across his lines were left answered.

UBA Bank
About Gbenga Odunsi 523 Articles
Writer, Investigative Journalist, Columnist, and Digital Media Strategist Editor with 9News Nigeria

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