Education Without Standard

Many private schools owners in Lagos do not adhere strictly to the conditions and regulations for opening and running schools

|  By Augustine Adah  |  Dec. 24, 2012 @ 2012 GMT
FOR a passerby, His Grace Nursery and Primary School located at no 5 Wale street, Odogunyan, Ikorodu, Lagos, could best be described as a modern football viewing centre. Built with plywood and tarpaulin, there is nothing to suggest that it is a place where about 50 children receive formal education. The school lacks the necessary facilities that befit a learning environment. Established four years ago, the school is located in a compound with other buildings and 50 children are crowded inside a makeshift building with no adequate ventilation.
The two teachers employed by the proprietress had only West African Senior School Certificate, WASSC, and also have difficulty in spoken English. These inadequacies have a negative effect on the children as many of them communicate in pidgin instead of the standard English. Besides, the sanitation of the environment is very poor. Children are allowed to defecate along the street and the nearby bush, because the school has no toilet or urinary facilities. The situation has exposed the children and the people living there to the risk of an epidemic.
The situation in His Grace Nursery and Primary School is not totally different from that of Divine Nursery /Primary School, Alapere, Ketu, where the school, established a year ago, operates from a sitting room. The proprietress, who does not want her name mentioned in the press, traced the history of the school to when her former employer could not pay her accumulated salary arrears and she decided to quit the job. At the moment, the school has about 65 pupils mostly from parents of low income earners.
The situation in the above schools symbolises what obtains in many substandard schools in Lagos State where the sitting rooms have been converted into classrooms. These have contributed to the problem of dwindling standard of education in the country.
The emergence of Lagos as a mega city with attendant high population has made it difficult for the government to provide enough schools with the necessary educational facilities. That made the patronage of private schools inevitable. Also the target of Millennium Development Goals, which aims to provide education for all children of school age by 2015, has put the state government in a difficult position over what to do with many unapproved schools.
Lanre Bajulaiye, head, press and public relations, Lagos State ministry of education, who admitted the proliferation of private nursery and primary schools without the necessary standard, stated that “the Lagos State government is working towards addressing the problem”. For this reason, he said, a meeting of government officials and operators of private schools was held recently. The purpose of the meeting was to address the inherent challenges facing the operators of private schools in the state.
Bajulaiye described education as an important sector that the government needs the support of the private sector to succeed. “Government alone cannot provide the educational services required by the ever growing population of Lagos State. Therefore, we always appreciate private participation to be able to meet the goal of the MDG,” he said. But the government has not closed its eyes against many of the schools which cannot meet up the standard. The government’s sledge hammer may come after all the necessary encouragement does not provide the required results.
Titilope Ajanau, retired school administrator, has appealed to the state government to always establish contact with proprietors/proprietresses of schools in order to acquaint them with the necessary requirements for establishing schools. She lamented the indiscriminate manner of opening schools without recourse to standard which has contributed to the falling standard of education in the country. “The falling standard of education starts from the creche, so government must endeavor to monitor all new schools so that the standard would be maintained,” she said.

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