You can know the number of schools in your small village by counting the number of uniforms you see in the morning as children go to school.
Like churches, schools are everywhere. There is at least one primary school in every seven or ten houses you find in some villages, and sometimes a secondary school too. This is getting worse in the urban areas.
Schools have become a money-making venture, which anyone can start, anywhere and anytime. But this is not good for our society or the children we are trying to educate.
Gone are the days when every village had one good government primary school, located on land donated by the people. The land houses the school and a large playing field. Those were the days when extracurricular activities played an important part in public school curriculum. Those were the days when schools inter-house sports produced young athletes some of who went to become national sportsmen and women. These days public schools, even with their large football-size fields do no sports and are equally poor academically. But that is subject for another editorial.
The proliferation of private schools is as ridiculous as it is annoying because their existence does not represent an improvement in the standard of education. Schools are everywhere yet many children within reading age cannot read or write properly.
Mushrooming of schools is an appropriate phrase for what is happening – because like mushrooms they spring up any and everywhere. Some are good and some are just not up to scratch. Some have no access roads leading to them, and others are located near rubbish dumps or high tension wires. In some of them, the teachers are just there marking time, waiting for better opportunities because the proprietor doesn’t pay them well
But parents desire good schools for their children. They know that education is the recipe for upward mobility even in Nigeria. They believe good education guarantees better life in the future. Hence, they are willing to pay any amount the private schools demand.
Government is to blame for this proliferation. Government inconsistent policies, none payment of teachers and lack of maintenance of schools have put our once respected public school system in jeopardy. This is the main reason private schools are booming.
Even with the so-called Free Education, our schools lack maintenance and teachers are frustrated. Government has interpreted free education as no tuition and nothing more. There is no subvention, no toilet facilities, no running water! Little wonder the children of the rich don’t go there. The children of the poor also avoid them, where possible.
Free education has not translated into proper maintenance of schools or paying teachers properly and on time. As a result, parents reject Government run schools and are willing to pay anything to educate their children in private schools, even if the teaching is done in the teacher’s bedroom. e
One wonders where and how these private schools located in a hovel technically, get their licences? How do they pass the health and safety tests? Finally does the Ministry of Education ever visit these schools? These are questions needing answers. When the education of young children stops being a social service, but overwhelmingly a profit making ventures, something is wrong. When the number of privately owned schools out number Government schools by almost three to one, then society is seriously in trouble.