As a child rights activist, Adeola said having handled several cases of child abuse in schools, she could not imagine her child going through such indignity. The fear that her child could be a victim has always been on her mind.
“The first question I consider in choosing a good school is who the teachers are. When my child was in a daycare, I enrolled him there because I had done my background work. I also relied on testimonials from other parents. I usually paid surprise visits to the home and I discovered that the woman in charge does an excellent job.
“Right now, I am also relying on testimonials from parents on which nursery school to take him to. Ordinarily, getting good schools should not be a problem but a lot of factors have to be considered. But the one that remains uppermost to me are good teachers and a safe environment,” she told SUNDAY PUNCH.
Another parent, Mr. Olaniyan Adeolu, shared a similar view. Some years back, Adeolu said he checked his son’s assignment booklet where the teacher wrote that the past tense of “go” is “goes.” The father of two said he became curious and realised the teacher had been teaching his child nonsense all along.
He stated, “I concluded that the teacher must be an ‘olodo’ (dullard). I didn’t waste time before I withdrew my child from the school. Sometimes, it is important to check what your children are learning. For me, the quality of the teachers in a school determines performance of the pupils. You can imagine what would have become of my child if I had allowed him to stay in that school.”
A mother of three, Mrs. Dolapo Ashogbon, also had a bit of challenge when she lost her husband in 2003. Prior to her husband’s death, her children attended a private school in Lagos. The burden of fending for her kids became too much to bear when her husband passed on.
“For my three children, we spent not less than N750,000 on their school fees every year. This was not a big deal to us because my husband had a good job. But shortly after my husband’s death, trouble started. I knew I could not afford the fees,” she said.
Ashogbon, a civil servant, said her mother’s observations changed her opinion about the criteria for a good school.
“My mother asked me, ‘Are schools which demand high school fees necessarily better than schools that demand low fees?’ She pointed to a few schools around which do not charge as much as the one my children were. I then decided to withdraw them from the expensive schools and enroll them in another which is affordable. Two of my children brilliantly passed the common entrance examination in the less expensive school. I am grateful to my mother for that piece of advice,” she said.
A school teacher in Ogun State, Mr. Samuel Ayegbusi, listed conditions parents should consider when choosing good schools for their children.
Ayegbusi said, “Factors to consider before registering your child in a school include the environment, infrastructure, past performance of students either in the common entrance examinations or the West African Examination Council examinations.
“Others include proximity and convenience to one’s residence. It is important to also check for safety procedures and hygiene such as how clean the school is. You don’t want your children coming home with infection. I think what stands out is the standard and quality of the teachers and past performance of the pupils.”
Speaking on the issue, the Director, Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, University of Ibadan, Dr. Kola Babarinde, stated that schools that use the right curriculum are good schools.
The expert added that conducive school environment, adequate number of teachers with requisite qualifications, serene school location, teaching and learning materials and good administrative and organisational infrastructure are other factors.
Babarinde lamented that some schools do not follow the proper standard, adding that while pre-primary education is expected to be for fun, some private schools have turned it into ‘unnecessary academic’ exercise.
The expert stressed that the choice of a good school should not be solely determined by a school’s academic performance, noting that while some children are early bloomers, others are late starters.
“So, patience should be exercised with the children and they should be allowed to enjoy their childhood. The future is very open and cannot be determined by single factor of school type while recognising the significance of good foundation and good education.
“This good foundation can only come by concerted efforts and serious commitment to public education by all tiers of government. One of the necessary battle cries in Nigeria today should be a persistent call to ‘save public education’ if the society wishes to be strategic about development and control of social vices,” he stated.
A Professor of Psychology at the University of Lagos, Oni Fagbohungbe, expressed a different view.
He stated that parents could determine good schools by how well pupils from such early-learning schools perform in secondary schools or colleges.
Fagbohungbe noted that since education has layers, a child’s performance in an upper layer is a function of his or her performance in primary school.
He, however, warned that this yardstick might not work because the educational situation in Nigeria leaves much to be desired.
“What we have here defeats that natural phenomenon. Here, we find schools making special arrangement for pupils to pass examinations. Parents should avoid schools that cheat and get examinations done for pupils. When pupils pass through such specially arranged schools, they become a burden to the lecturers on getting to the university.
“I was once an admission officer for my department. There was a candidate who scored over 300 marks in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. This is a great score and we expected the fellow to pass the post-UTME. But he scored the lowest mark. We subjected him to three other tests, which he failed. It became so glaring that the foundation was not there. Parents should avoid schools that cut corners,” the lecturer said.
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