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DOWEN COLLEGE: Private Schools Are Largely Sadly Driven By Profit & Time To Appoint A Governing Board For All Public/Private Schools In Nigeria Is Now By Frank Tietie.

Dowen College.

In history, Nigerian public primary and secondary schools have produced the best of graduates. Private schools were an anomaly. They initially flourished because some parents couldn't get their children to cope with the high standards of public schools. Private schools came to the rescue, to harvest students that failed out of public schools.

At a time, proprietors of private schools did everything possible to market their schools. They bribed regulatory officials, churned out several paid adverts in the media and procured answers to WAEC examination for their students, a few nefarious things they did, to create the impression they offered good education. What a lie!

If the conditions for establishing private schools were made so difficult, beyond buildings and half-baked teachers, many Nigerian parents would have long pushed for Nigerian public schools to have governing boards, made up of parents that would oversee the schools in the interest of the children, against the buccaneer- proprietors, whose real interest is money. Just money!

We deceive ourselves a lot as Nigerians, almost in every social endeavour. So there is the concept of the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) which to my mind is a huge fraud in many instances. Thus, a proprietor owns a school and collects all the profits that accrue therefrom yet, convinces the association of parents to contribute money for the development of the school in addition to the school fees they pay and the remains his own. What kind of thing is that?

When parents contribute money for the development of their children's schools beyond the school fees, they should regard themselves, essentially as co-owner of the school and therefore must take active, day-to-day participation in the management and control of the school.

In the case of the PTA system, parents contribute money for the school and go to sleep, leaving the proprietor without accountability for protecting the real interest- the children's wellbeing.

Long before the era of sexual and physical abuse of children in schools, especially private schools, I had sought an order of the Nasarawa State High Court, compelling the Nasarawa State Commissioner of Education to close down a private school in Mararaba, Karu. The Court missed the point when it opted to award damages of N200,000 to baby Egiethua who was flogged against the standards of the Child's Rights Law of the State. I had pointed out to the Court that closing down the school would send a strong signal to other schools not to mess around with children's minds and bodies. It didn't take long thereafter when our news climate was bombarded with abuse of children in schools. Especially private schools!

I have long campaigned to the leaders of my old school associations- Government College Ughelli Old Boys Association (GCUOBA) and Unity School Agbarho Old Students Association (USAOSA), that they should stop funding those two Delta State Government owned schools unless they are prepared to take some reasonable measure of ownership and control of the schools.

GCUOBA spends millions of Naira annually, on the maintenance of Government College Ughelli (GCU), yet it can hardly determine the quality of teachers and the currency of the curriculum for the school. Could it be the reason why many of the GCUOBA members who bring the money don't even send their children to GCU? You can't be throwing millions of Naira, yearly into the development of a school that your son attends and leave issues of management and standards in the hands of someone who cares only about salary?

Nigerians remain in a state of shock over recently reported deaths of  Sylvester Oromoni Jnr. of Dowen College, Lagos and Karen Happuch of Premiere Academy, Lugbe- Abuja, both of whom were entrusted by their parents into the hands of the schools, only to realise that the management of the schools cared less about the condition of each individual student. And in the event of any reported case of sexual or physical abuse of any student in their custody, the first thing the school does is to abdicate responsibility and defend itself with sponsored publicity antics in the media. Those private schools only care  about the money and never at any time really realise the import of the legal principle of in loco parentis.

While the Lagos state government, a very progressive state in my opinion, has moved swiftly to close down down Dowen College for its manifest, irresponsibility, it remains a big shame that the authorities of the Federal Capital Territory- Abuja are yet to bring to account Premier Academy Lugbe- Abuja for the death of Karen Happuch that was allegedly raped while in custody of the school.  The FCT authorities can join the cover-up of the rape and death of that teenage girl-child but they will remain haunted forever in their hearts. I pray that such a thing will not so soon happen to one of their children. Retribution doesn't usually take so long. Let us know that a country does not make progress when it fails to uphold standards irrespective not who is involved. Premiere Academy, Lugbe-Abuja should have long been closed down over the rape of late Karen Happuch while she was in its custody.

A case is therefore made that the biggest stakeholders in every school in Nigeria are the parents of the children that attend the school. Parents must be given greater share of responsibility and defined everyday roles in making determinations and exercising control in the day to day management of  schools.

Profit driven school proprietors have become a disaster in managing the welfare and interests of children. Parents must wake up and take a greater share of management responsibilities for schools in Nigeria.

I move for the establishment of school boards for all public and private schools in Nigeria.


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