• Private school owners engage in underhand dealings – Prof
• Schools employ secondary school-leavers, pay them N4,000
Olaleye Aluko, John Charles, Peter Dada, Olaide Oyelude, Bola Bamigbola, Chima Azubuike, Enyioha Opara, Rapael Ede and Adeniyi Olugbemi
Substandard private schools occasioned by lack of supervision by education authorities, corruption and poverty have worsened the state of basic education in the country.
Investigations showed that teachers in most of the substandard schools were everything but professional as proprietors in many of them employed secondary school-leavers as teachers.
It was also discovered that facilities there were nothing to write home about as the majority of the schools operated in ramshackle buildings.
Findings indicated that school owners capitalised on the failure of government to provide qualitative education for the Nigerian child to make money.
Investigations conducted by our correspondents in some states of the country revealed that increasing number of poor parents were opting for the substandard private nursery and primary schools.
Also, poverty and decay in the public school system, lack of dedication by public school teachers and failure of state government to establish new schools in spite of the increasing population of the country contributed to parents’ preference for the mushroom private schools.
Schools operate in uncompleted buildings, charge N3,000 as fees
In Benue State, The PUNCH’s correspondent, who went round private nursery and primary schools in Makurdi, observed that some of the schools were operating in uncompleted buildings.
They were mostly patronised by the poor, who could not afford expensive private schools.
It was learnt that fees in such schools ranged from N2,000 to N3,000 per term. Findings indicated that teachers in the schools were secondary school-leavers, who were paid N4,000 monthly, depending on the population of the pupils.
‘Why the uneducated opt for private schools’
However, the Executive Secretary of the Benue State Teaching Service Board, Prof Wilfred Uji, in an interview with The PUNCH, attributed Nigerians’ preference for private schools to the military interference.
According to him, the decay of both public primary and secondary schools has been systematic since1976 when the government started the implementation of the universal free of education programme.
He stated, “The ruling class, especially the military and top government officials, set up their educational institutions. These have created impact on our educational system, thereby reducing the standard of the public schools.”
Education ministry should supervise schools – Proprietors’ chair
But the state Chairman of the Association of Proprietors of Private Schools and coordinator of the association in the North-Central, Mrs Tabitha Msurshima, explained that once the government gave a licence to a prospective school proprietor, the association did not have the power to interfere in the school’s operation.
She said, “Most parents know standard and substandard schools, but due to the tuition, they allow their children to attend substandard schools.
“It could be true that we have some of our members operating in dilapidated structures, but we cannot hold ourselves responsible because the ministry of education ought to supervise the school buildings and environment before approving them.”
A civil servant, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of persecution, said, “Inspectors only care about the bribes they collect from substandard school owners; they do not care about standard.”
Benue has 2,000 illegal schools – Commissioner
The Benue State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Dennis Ityavyav, said that there were over 2,000 illegal schools in the 23 local government areas of the state.
He, however, said the state government had approved 697 nursery and primary schools in the state.
Ityavyav, who spoke through an Assistant Director of Education in the state Ministry of Education, Dr William Gele, said that the number of illegal schools particularly nursery and primary schools, was quite alarming.
But he lamented that parents still sent their children to schools that had been shut down by the state government.
Parents send their children to schools shut down – Commissioner
He stated, “We have been able to close down some of these schools, but as soon as we do that, they will go back and reopen. Despite the fact that we publicise the schools shut down, parents still send their children there.”
However, investigations conducted by one of our correspondents in Katsina State revealed that there were over 70 private nursery and primary schools in the state. Only very few of them are substandard.
It was gathered that many of the schools were owned by academics and businessmen who were non-indigenes of the state.
It was also learnt that some of the schools paid N35,000 as monthly salary to their graduate teachers and N25,000 to the Nigerian Certificate of Education holders.
However, the few substandard schools in the state charge as low as N1,000 as tuition.
A top official of the state ministry of education, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents that the state ministry carried out routine supervision of the schools and closed down those that did not meet its standard.
In Niger State, the Executive Director of the Private Schools Board, Mallam Yakubu Garba, said the state did not license schools in residential areas, churches, mosques and uncompleted buildings.
A community leader in Tunga, Minna, Aliyu Kuta, told one of our correspondents that there were many private schools in Minna.
Kuta said that 75 per cent of residents in Minna had their children in private schools, irrespective of the fact that some of them were expensive.
A teacher in the state, who gave his name as Isidore Abraham, said that teachers in private schools were more committed than teachers in public schools.
We’re ensuring quality in Gombe private schools – Director
In Gombe State, the Director, Inspectorate Services in the state’s Ministry of Education, Alhaji Adamu Ibrahim, in an interview with The PUNCH, said there were two types of nursery and primary schools in the state.
These, he said, were schools that fulfilled the minimum standard of the government and those without the standard.
According to him, the schools in the first category have structures and permanent sites, while others in the second category do not have.
But he explained that the inspectorate unit always encouraged them to raise their standards because “we are collaborating with stakeholders in the sector to reduce the number of out-of-school children without sacrificing quality.”
No effective supervision in public schools – Dean
However, the Dean of the Faculty of Education of the Gombe State University, Prof Gurama Dukku, blamed regulatory agencies for the problems of substandard private schools.
On teachers employed by private schools, Dukku said though private school teachers might not have the required qualifications for teaching, they were more committed than their public school counterparts.
He said, “What they lack in qualification, they gain in dedication. The public schools employ qualified teachers, and they usually send them for training but you find that the commitment to get them to deliver is not effective.
“Private schools although may have less qualified teachers, they make up for that through effective supervision to do their jobs.
More pupils enrolling in Ondo private schools
In Ondo State, it was gathered that private nursery and primary schools were springing up on a daily basis and that over 15,000 of them were registered with the state government.
Findings showed that the high number of private schools in the state had affected the enrolment of pupils in the public schools.
A parent, Mrs Agnes Amadi, said she enrolled her children in a private primary school due to the commitment of the teachers and stability in the system of education in the private sector.
Public school teachers not committed – Parent
A civil servant, Mr Ayo Adeyemi, said, “The public schools teachers have better pay, they are more qualified, but they are not as hardworking and as committed as those in private schools.”
During a visit to some of the private primary schools, it was observed that some had poor facilities and were not conducive to learning.
Investigations, however, revealed that many private school teachers were working in poor conditions. Many of them were poorly remunerated by their employers in spite of their diligence at work.
Some of them, who spoke to The PUNCH, also lamented that their employers did not pay salaries regularly.
My salary is N15,000 a month – NCE holder
An NCE holder, who teaches in a school in Akure, said, “ It is the scarcity of work that makes me remain there. I get N15,000 per month. The only way I get additional income is when I organise extra-lessons for pupils after the school hours. I have been working in the school for the past eight years. My salary was increased from N12,000 to N15,000 once. ”
Govt issues licence to anybody that applies – Akure South LG proprietors’ chair
In her reaction, the Chairman of the National Association of Private Schools, Akure South Local Government Area chapter, Mrs Bolajoko Alabi, said the association had difficulty in controlling proliferation of schools because government issued licence to anybody that applied for it.
A source in the ministry of education in the state said many civil servants were school proprietors and they registered their schools using other names. He said the act was against the civil service rule.
All efforts to get the comment of the Ondo State Commissioner for Education, Mr Femi Agagu, were unsuccessful, but a top government functionary in the ministry said the state government had been making efforts to improve the standard of basic education in the state.
Private schools litter Enugu, but quality not certain
In Enugu, the Enugu State capital, The PUNCH correspondent observed that virtually in every 10 buildings, there was a school either as a nursery school or as a nursery and primary school.
Though it could not be established whether learning was actually taking place in the schools, parents, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said they had lost confidence in public primary schools.
A parent, Mrs Ebere Ugwu, said she paid N20,000 per term as fees in a private school.
In Osun, top civil servants own private schools
Investigations in Osun State revealed that some top civil servants owned standard private schools, especially in Osogbo, the state capital.
Further investigations revealed that pupils in schools within Osogbo metropolis paid more than schools in other parts of the state. For pupils in primary schools in the less urban parts of the state capital, school fees could be as low as N7,000 per term.
‘No retirement benefits for private school teachers’
Three teachers working in private schools located in Ilesha Garage, Kelebe and Ayekale areas of Osogbo, told The PUNCH on condition of anonymity that there were no retirement benefits apart from their contributions to thrift and cooperative societies.
Parents have lost confidence in public education – Don
A professor of the Environmental Education at the Osun State University, Osogbo, Anthony Kola-Olusanya, explained that illiterate parents were opting for substandard primary schools because they had lost confidence in public schools.
Private school owners engage in underhand dealings – Prof
Kola-Olaniyan said apart from those he called elitist private schools, many private schools operators engaged in underhand dealings in a bid to retain the trust of parents and attract more pupils.
But the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrosheed Akanbi, said substandard schools were springing up in his domain because of government’s failure to establish schools in the areas despite rising population in the affected communities.
Akanbi said pupils living in Ojisun, Ogundigbaro and other villages that were located near Asejire, a border community separating Osun and Oyo states, trekked several miles before they could get to their school.
A top official of the Osun State Ministry of Education, who spoke on condition of anonymity, gave the number of recognised nursery and primary schools in the state as 2,909.
Public school teachers, govt responsible for substandard schools – Don
A lecturer at the Education Management Department of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Dr Comfort Akinfolarin, blamed public school teachers for the rising number of private schools.
She said, “In public schools, nobody cares, even many teachers in public schools send their children to private schools because the proprietors and teachers are being supervised.”
Govt can’t query unpaid public school teachers – NUT
But the Nigeria Union of Teachers defended public school teachers, saying government should be blamed for the backwardness of public schools.
The NUT Secretary-General, Dr Mike Ene, in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, noted that apart from being owed salaries by several state governments, teachers in public schools lacked adequate supervision and worked without commitment.
Ene said, “There is stricter supervision of teachers in private schools than in public schools. And why is this so? It is because you cannot query someone you have not paid or satisfied? What effrontery do you have to monitor teachers who are being owed several months of salaries? Teachers in several states up till now are being owed salaries and the organs of government that employed them are giving excuses.
“Some state governors, when we meet them, will say they are not aware that teachers are not paid. So, there is no doubt that the lack of motivation demoralises teachers and hinders their maximum production.”