The Director of Grace Schools in Gbagada, Lagos, Mrs Tokunbo Edun, speaks with TARE YOUDEOWEI on sundry education issues, including how inadequate funding is inhibiting the growth of the education sector.
How will you rate the country’s education sector?
The education system in Nigeria has worsened since independence. While growing up, someone with a primary six certificate could teach. Graduates today are half baked and some of them cannot communicate well in English. The quota system which is being used in the country is horrible. It guarantees admission for poorly performed pupils.
Inadequate funding is also affecting the standard of education. Infrastructural facilities are also not been improved upon by the government. The government should not just provide funding; it must monitor the funds to ensure judicious spending.
For instance, in the last 10 years, Rwanda has overhauled its education sector. Sixty per cent of its private schools have closed down due to the immense funding of the public education sector by the government. In Nigeria, private schools have taken over the responsibilities of government.
Since private schools are complementing the efforts of the government in educating pupils, how will you describe the relationship between both parties?
Private schools have better facilities than public schools. Private schools are actually doing what public schools should be doing. There should be a strong partnership between public schools and private schools. The government should stop overtaxing us, it is burdensome. For instance, what is the quality assurance policy? All sorts of multiple taxes are being forced on private schools.
The government should be friendlier in its approach to private education stakeholders. The relationship between private educators and the government should be more cordial.
What do you feel the government can do to improve the sector?
There should be proper supervision of the education sector. The government should not only release funds, but also monitor funds going into the sector. There should be specific projects to promote growth. The government should also focus on upgrading facilities.
The foundation of everything is important. It takes a lot of effort to correct fundamental errors. It should be noted that leaving primary education in the hands of the local government areas is not appropriate as the office holders do not pay attention to improving the quality of education.
What factors can be blamed for the dwindling quality of education?
Parents should set aside the belief that once they pay school fees, the school should take over completely. Parents should not abdicate their responsibilities to the school. They should try and create more time for their children.
Depression is gradually becoming prevalent among children. Children hardly see their parents at home. We have seen cases of drivers asking questions about homework for their bosses’ children. How can a driver suddenly become the one monitoring a pupil’s schoolwork? Children blossom more when they are shown love. It is expected for parents to do more for their children beyond paying school fees.
However, the teaching profession is not only about teaching pupils alone; it encompasses several things. Teachers need to develop a skill set to enable them to perform their roles effectively. The educational system in Nigeria is faulty. Teachers need to be specialists in their own field. They should not just be employed but be tested on their competencies and capabilities.
What is Grace School doing to correct the ills in the education sector?
We have our annual indigent scholarship award for the underprivileged in the society to have access to qualitative education regardless of financial and educational background. This is one area that the school becomes socially responsible by helping the underprivileged in the society.
We have also instituted an award in honour of my mother, the founder of this school, late Deaconess Grace Oshinowo, and it has become an annual event to support the underprivileged in the society. We also donate cash and materials towards the upgrade of several schools in Gbagada and its environs.