Olusola Bankole is the Chairman of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). In this interview with ABDUSSALAM AMOO, she highlights some of the realities of running a private school in Nigeria. Read excerpts of the interview below.
What are you doing to address the issue of ‘expensive’ education?
There are different categories of private schools. Here in the FCT, we have about 2000 members of our association. Of these 2000, the high end expensive ones are not more than 20. I mean those that charge in dollars or in millions of naira.
Then, we have the category of those that charge between 80 to 200 thousand naira – maybe like a hundred and thirty of them.
Then, we have those who charge like 20 to 80 thousand naira. Then, we have the bulk of about a thousand five hundred schools that their fees is between N20 per day and N20, 000 per term.
There is a need to build more schools to cater for the out of school children. Is your organisation willing to fund such projects?
The modality is very complex. That is not what we need. Rather, we are battling with the proliferation of schools. We are beginning to see schools next door creating issues. What we have is a dwindling number of enrolments in each school.
So, we have a lot of schools that have a lot of capacity that they are not filling because more schools are springing up. So, it is not too much about building schools.
So many times, when I hear about 13 million out of school children, I’m wondering where they are. A lot of them are in our private schools – those N20 per day schools and those N5000 per term schools, which sometimes are even cheaper than public schools.
A growing school of thought in private schools is that parents don’t like their child to be disciplined. What is your perspective to this?
It depends on the school. If a school or a teacher is not disciplined, the learning is useless. So, it depends on the school.
So many times, private schools being private, there are some school leaders who just feel that they just need to encourage the parent to keep coming.
I want to tell you that a lot of private schools, at least between last year and now, there are not less than ten private schools that have closed down.
But then, there are a lot of private schools that the discipline and character building that we do is high.
How can private school owners upscale what they have been doing for better results?
I think going forward, we have a campaign on no… (inaudible). That is a major problem facing our education system. That why we would advocate for quality education.
It is better to keep the children with their parents teaching them the local things – their language, trading in the market, to knead and all that – than for us to send children to school and what they are doing is taking their minds back.
They are not creative. They are being miseducated. They are not getting the quality that is going to advance this nation. What is the essence of education if not for the good of the society?
We have private schools always skipping classes these days. How do you advise teachers work around that?
That is within our campaign (at NAPPS Abuja). We have the campaign called “No rush, no push”. We are insisting that children go through the whole all of basic education. That includes primary six.
Right now, primary six is going into extinction. As we resumed this session, I have at least been able to win about six schools which have started primary six again.
We are beginning to see children leaving from primary four to secondary school.
We are beginning to see underage schooling. You would see children who are barely thirteen going into university. I do ask the parents: to do what?
They make it sound like all Nigerian children are very intelligent. What sort of intelligence? If the intelligence is not bringing advancement to this country, it is useless. Are we building innovators? We should be more concerned about quality education.
How do we balance the competition among private schools in relation to ensuring quality?
We pray that we have quality government schools.