Inside Lagos ‘wonder’ schools

  • Owners use living rooms as classrooms
  • Teacher says, ‘He has went out’!
  • We’ll go after them – Lagos Govt

There are strong indications that the Lagos State Ministry of Education may soon go after some nursery and primary schools, which though got government approval, have abdicated virtually all the needed standards in a school.

Uba Group

This much was revealed to The Point on Thursday in an exclusive interaction with top shots of the ministry. Besides, a one-month long investigation of many private schools, especially the nursery and primary ones, has shown that adherence to basic rules in the operation of a school is usually observed in the breach.

In the same vein, findings have shown that there is an unholy alliance between such schools’ proprietors and unscrupulous inspectors from the education ministry.

In setting up a private school anywhere in Lagos, there are guiding rules. Speaking in an interview with The Point, a director in the Department of Education Quality Assurance, Lagos Ministry of Education, Dr. (Mrs) Ronke Soyombo, listed government’s new assessment on schools’ viability to include yardsticks such as the school’s administration, governance, learners’ health and safety, learning environment and quality of the school’s buildings and premises.

Other conditions, according to her, are sufficiency and quality of teachers, appropriate classrooms and toilet facilities for both teachers and pupils.

She said, “For instance, each school must provide toilets for both male and female learners at a ratio of 35 pupils to one toilet; every class must have a teacher and a teaching assistant; and then, the pupils’ population in a class must not exceed 25.

“In classes where there are learners with special needs, additional teaching support is needed. Also, all classrooms must have white boards and interactive white boards and projectors. A school must have at least 12 rooms; nine must be for Kindergarten, Nursery 1 to 2 and Primary 1 to 6; while the remaining three must be allotted as headmasters’ office, library and sickbay.”

Findings by our correspondent have, however, revealed that many private schools in the mainland part of the state have not met these requirements.

For instance, the owner of a popular nursery and primary school, located by the Agric Bus Stop, in Ikorodu, Lagos, converted her living room into a classroom, according to a parent.

“She and her family members still live there, but they use the living room as a classroom when pupils are there to save money. There is no sickbay, library or spaced playground. The school is next to a private residence thereby causing pupils’ distraction,” a reliable source, who preferred to be anonymous, said.

When approached, the Head Teacher of the school, who would not want his name in print, said he was not authorised to speak.

The situations elsewhere in Ketu and Mile 12 are not different. Pupils in two private schools located in these areas, with the word international attached to their names, are apparently exposed to danger as the buildings are unfenced and there are no security measures in place.

A parent, whose son used to be a pupil of one of the schools, Mrs. Mary Hassan, said, “I couldn’t have left my only child there because of the high level of insecurity. Gangs of cultists fight in the vicinity every week, and I became very afraid because the school is open.”

For the other school in this vicinity, its building is located in-between two residential buildings.

Beside the gate is a potato-chips seller, who uses the small space left, which could have served as more space for playground, to fry potatoes, with naked fire! When asked whether it was right to operate such business in an environment where children were, the seller, who identified himself as Chinedu, said, “There is no alternative as this place is a secluded and shielded area for us to carry out our business. Moreover, the school has another entrance where the children can pass through.”

Other requirements set out by the government, such as library, sickbay, sufficient toilets and offices for the staff, are never heard of, much less available, in these schools.

Similarly, the quality of staff is also poor even though the head teacher insisted that the school was government approved and had all the necessary facilities.