I love children and I love to spend time with them, and for many years I have dedicated some of my time to teach certain subjects in public and private schools for free. Here are some of my experiences. You will be shocked!
Education is key factor in all developing and even developed countries because it is a means of empowering both the youth and adults in society and it is the major source of human capital development. This subject matter however, is not one that I would have really loved to discuss in a medium like this but due to the importance I attach to such issues, I have decided to pour out my worries after being urged to do so a while ago by a friend of mine. And also as a mother and god parent to many young children, my mind tells me it is right to share my experiences so that mothers, fathers, aunties, uncles and even guardians who can not afford to send their children or wards to privately owned schools know exactly what goes on in some of our public schools, and if they plan to send or already have their children there, will realise that they must devote some time to teaching these children at home whenever and how best they can.
This is what happened!
My friend and I walked into a government owned school a while ago because of our passion to voluntary render free teaching services in certain subjects.A meeting with the Principal of the school saw our request accepted whole heartedly, she welcomed us literally with open arms.
Glad to be given the opportunity to teach some of the children in that very popular government school here in Lagos, we prepared ourselves to put in our very best, but little did we know the surprises that lay ahead.
We hit the ground running and we were first of all shocked at how crowded the classrooms were.The children however, were very eager to learn. The turn out and interest shown was amazing to say the least. And so, we were super excited to teach.
I took the senior class (SS) while my friend took the junior one (JSS) and both classes were well fully packed for the entire period that we were there. On our way back home after the first day, my friend and I praised the students for their eagerness to learn. It actually surprised us to know that children from a public school would attend class the way they did. So we happily continued to teach them week after week, and as the weeks went by, the children started to demand for more teaching periods and the inclusion of more subjects. Their reason for the requests was that we seemed to impart more than their teachers did, besides, their teachers were hardly ever in school to teach and even when they did, it was just once or twice a week, the children were left for most of the time, in their classes unattended to.
So we began to pay more attention to what was going on around the school and it became more apparent that the students were just left alone to play on the premises; this just couldn’t be true, I can recollect the good old days, when teachers were only too happy to wait outside the gates just to catch and punish late comers, those were the days when teachers labored selflessly to empower young minds and teach them the principles of a good life, those times when teachers were after the success and wellbeing of students and not just their pockets. Those days when teachers actually accepted the fact that there was a reward waiting for them in heaven.
While speaking with one of the teachers, he said to me, ” a teachers reward is in heaven right?” “well it’s not yet time to die and since I am still here on earth I have to survive.” ‘Teachers’ are not my focal point in this article so I will leave that for some other time, but realistically I do not blame this teacher outrightly for thinking of how to survive, more so because more often than not, his salary is either not paid on time or not paid at all, and he most likely has his own children to carter for, and for that reason he would look for other means of survival.
Several times, during our stint at the school, we made efforts to meet with the principal to discuss the bad situation we saw and mainly the absence of teachers but she was hardly ever there. Whenever we made attempts to see her, if not only to thank her for allowing us fulfill part of our dreams, we were always told that she was not in school that day; however, her office was easily accessible and it was glaring that she was hardly ever there.
Those sweet children were so eager to learn but they just didn’t have the teachers; and we could not take them on all subjects.
Eventually we got to sit down with the Principal to discuss the situation but she told us that the children were lying and that the teachers were actually available. If my memory serves me right we must have seen her only twice, for the entire period we were there, and we never got to see the teachers she claimed were available to take classes. As the student pressed us to take them on more subjects, I got very upset and angry at the education system in my country Nigeria. I felt betrayed by the system. When did it all get to be like this? I remember back in my secondary school days, there were more government owned schools than private ones and they were held in high esteem by parents, teachers and the students too.
I remember how I longed to be admitted into a particular one, but I could not meet their requirements. Their girls were perceived as very smart and intelligent. I greatly admired the school and even the comportment of the students and how they carried themselves with pride. These days most parents with the exception of a few, would want their children to attend any government owned primary or secondary school, parents would rather squeeze themselves dry to pay for one of the numerous private schools that are spread across the country, than put them in public schools, and for that reason, private schools owners have taken full advantage of the situation of the incompetency and inadequacy of government owned schools in the country and have driven their school fees to the summit caring less of these trying times. But then again, there is really no reason to blame them for the rise in school fees, after all it takes a whole lot to meet up with international standards that our Government care less about. If only those in authority who most likely also attended public secondary schools during their time could just look back to how it was and compare it to what it is today.
The level of decay is shocking.
Why would our Education system not take precedence in a nation as vibrant as ours. Nigeria is too big and complex to be ruled by uneducated leaders. Good education helps in producing good leaders. Little wonder, why some of these children, after graduating from school can barely write properly, hardly spell and can’t even reason as enlightened individuals should.
What shocked me the most while still helping out in that school, was a young girl in SS2 who could not read at all, she wanted me to create more time to teach her how to read, but how on earth did she get to SS2 in the first place? Did she actually sit for the exams? Who promoted her ? Another shocker was the experience I had when it was time for their senior WASCE examinations, to my surprise some of the students begged us to give them some money to pay the invigilators, so they could help them pass all their papers, according to those students, this is the norm.
Imagine my shock and disbelief when I heard that.The student actually told me that the school encouraged the practice and after investigating the matter, we found it to be true. If a student is taught in school that the best way to achieve good results is by cheating, how do you expect that child, a future leader some day to be honest, or achieve greatness through hard work and not through stealing, cheating or murder.
How can an SS3 student, who can not read or write, be that great doctor, or engineer. If our public school system is not working, we should try what other countries have done to elevate their educational system; take for instance the United Kingdom where some of us send our children to study. The Government there, recently held a forum on how to improve their school system and make it even better.
Back in 1998, they came up with the so called BEACON SCHOOLS project just to improve some schools that were not doing particularly well. About 74 primary, secondary, nursery and special schools were selected by the Department for Education and Employment for their educational expertise in the areas of management or curriculum with the sole aim of becoming beacons of excellence’ for other schools to emulate. We also need to emulate such laudable things. We have to get the federal ministry of education to work.
Education is quintessential to the development of all nations including Nigeria. It is painful to see how Nigerians desperately send their children to other parts of the world for a better education, even to close by Ghana and Benin Republic, anywhere is better I guess.
When you present a certificate from a Nigerian university for employment at multi national companies, and that from a foreign school, the one from the foreign school will be considered first before the Nigerian one.
Good for those who can afford to send their children abroad, but what about those who can’t, what happens to their children, bearing in mind that they will still have to compete with the privileged ones for good jobs.
I believe that every Nigerian child has a right to a sound education. A right to be educated to university level just as the privileged child.
In many parts of the world, students are entitled to loans for their university education, they pay back only when they start working and start earning a particular amount of money, we have no such facilities presently in Nigeria, we used to have a students loan board whatever happened? right now you either have the money or you are left behind. The government has to sincerely overhaul our education system and configure it in a way that both the privileged and under privileged will benefit from it. If all children get the same opportunities to a sound education, we will no longer have leaders who think only about themselves.
•A great leader empowers and does not pull others down.
.•A great leader is compassionate, considerate and always puts those he leads first before himself.
•To be a great leader you simply need to be educated, at least to a certain extent.
How do you categorize our leaders?
Words from the heart.
Wisdom calls aloud in the street, it raises its voice in public squares and at the head of the noisy streets while it cries out at the gateway of the city.
Thank you for reading my article, for all your comments and for sharing it on Facebook and other platforms.