The world over,the government is charged with the responsibility of guiding its citizenry on how to make a good choice when placing their children in schools and other institutions of higher learning. A major duty of the government is to provide free education up to secondary level and also aid the provision of standard education up to secondary level. In Nigeria, things are a bit different, yes the State governments provide education, but in most cases it is such that the children of the state government staff would not be caught dead in such schools.
|A government school in Kogi State.|
|Another one in Kwara State.|
There is indeed a large gap to be filled and this has led to the proliferation of schools in Nigeria that claim to offer good education. I have searched to check if there is any guideline emanating from government to help in making a good choice, but there seems to be none.
All is however not lost, let’s take a look at the following checklist and see if it wont help in the selection of a good school.
1. Private. Check. Chances are that if a school is privately owned and run, it is a good school, it is only if you are not a Nigerian or you don’t live in Nigeria that you need further explanation.
2. The name of the school. Check.
|Avi- Cenna School in Lagos State.|
if the founder of the school takes pain to arrive at a good and meaningful name chances are that it will be a good school, parents have been known to prefer schools with oyinbo names, like Vivian Fowler, Avi Cenna, Grange , Corona, Loyola Jesuit, Chrisland, Day Waterman, Greensprings, Supreme Education Foundation etc. It is the parents’ belief that the more English or foriegn the name is, the better the performance of the school in helping their children achieve good results. Parents cannot be blamed really because there are names like Aunty Yewande Schools, I rise and shine secondary school, Blessing Impeccable Schools, Holy Ghost Fire School, Proper Arsenal International Nursery and Primary School, Sachel School, Branded College, Normal College, Nursery, Primary College, ( I mean, is there any such thing as an abnormal college?) Tambad School etc. Imagine your child saying ” The name of my school is Proper Arsenal Nursery and Primary School” (in Tatafo’s type of voice). Are we not carrying this football craze too far? Poor child.
3. The school fees. Check. This is perhaps the major determining factor. Let’s listen to this conversation between my friend, Ngozi and I.
Ngozi: Which school does your child attend?
Me: Blessing Impeccable
Ngozi: ( frowning, trying to check if the name rings a bell, unfortunately, it does n’t) How much do you pay per term?
Ngozi: (finally convinced) Na better school.
If the school fees is not in hundreds of thousands, chances are that it is not a good school. Apart from the main fees, there should be other fees such as development levy, utility fee,( for electricity and water) Maths clinic fees, Excursion fees, Inter-House Sports fee,in short, an endless list of all sorts of ridiculously named projects.
|“……na better school”|
4. The uniform. check. Now this is a very funny one, it must include a tie, a blazer, a pinafore, leggings or tights and wait for this, bowler hats,regardless of our climate and weather, otherwise, potential parents might think the school is not up to standard.
|Bowler hats, blazers in this all year round summer?|
5. The type of and the number of school buses. Check.
Toyota coaster is the favourite of good schools in Nigeria, Toyota hiace fully AC with curtains is however a second choice, a good school must have a minimum of one Toyota coaster and a minimum of two Toyota hiace buses. This is however not an Herculean task because a separate fee of an average of ₩40,000 per term for transportation is charged by schools that provide school bus service,
6. The nationality of the Principal. Check. Majority of parents in Nigeria are of the opinion that their child will perform better and get better results if the principal is a foreign national, it could be British, American, French, Australian (like in my children’s school, and assisted by an Indian) Indian, or even Ghanaian. Most school owners are of the opinion that Nigerians ( for reasons best known to them) are not good enough to head a school.
7. Foreign trips. Check. For a school to be deemed as good enough it must offer outrageously expensive foreign trips, to America,( for example my children’s school organized a trip for her students to go and witness Obama’s swearing-in ceremony, even if they were only able to watch on screens littered outside the inauguration venue), Britain, Canada and more recently Dubai, it does not matter if the students have not been to neighbouring African countries like Ghana, The Gambia, Kenya e t c. The reason behind the choice, I guess is that the farther the country of choice, the more money is to be made on foreign trips by these schools and also the more ‘posh’ the school would appear to be.
|No, you are not mistaken, the Queen actually stopped by or was it the school that visited? That indeed was the Queen of England with students of Vivian Fowler. Can you beat that?|
8. I.T. compliant. Check.To be regarded as up to standard a school must offer IT, traditional black board and even the modern white board must give way for projector and other learning aids, flash drives are used to collect class notes by students and downloaded unto the students lap tops, in some schools, ( Greensprings for example) these lap tops/ tablets are rented out to students annually at a fee you would get a brand new one in the market
|Now this is neither a film trick nor “demo”, these children use tablets and its not paracetamol, Greensprings.|
9. The curriculum. Check. Just as everything in Nigeria is in mega proportions, to be a good school, the student must offer a minimum of 15 subjects and be put through up to three different curricula simultaneously , we have Nigerian curriculum, British, American e t c, our children have now become professional exam writers. Some schools aiming at being even better concentrate only on either British or American curriculum, so their students will not sit local exams like W A E C, NE C O, Lagos State Government Exam and GCE which they consider to be unnecessary distraction.
10. Co- curricula or extra- curricula activities, a good school must have facilities for these and offer a variety of them. Schools should therefore have music room, tailoring and home economics room, arts and craft laboratory all equipped to the nines. And the students must play hard just as they work hard, and their playing hard must reflect in trophies, prizes won in competition, tournaments both within and outside Nigeria.
|Swimming competition, Day Waterman College.|
|Good at carting home the trophies, Vivian Fowler|
11. External Examination results. Check. This is another selling point. It does not matter if it is only a fraction of graduating students that do well, as long as there is a list of names that can be pasted on notice boards to show intending parents that their students do well in the examination. Note also that you the parent have to organize extra home lessons for your child and the school will of course take the credit when the results turn out good.
12. Location. Check.The factor that sells a property is the same as the one that sells a school; location, location, location. Parents don’t mind commuting up to two hours to go and two hours to come back or even longer every school day because of the location, in search of a good school for your child? Consider areas like Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Lekki, Ikeja, Magodo, Surulere etc, it does not matter if you live faraway from those areas. A friend and a co parent in my children’s school confided in me that they had to relocate from their own house to a rented place when their children became of secondary school age in quest of a better school.
13. Intercontinental cuisine. Check.Quality of the meals served in the school especially those that have boarding houses. Schools that have such food like hot dogs and burger, ice cream, jollof rice and chicken, chicken and chips, designer rice, etc on their menu seem to be better than those schools where Mama put will bring her basin of rice and beans and ponmo to sell everyday without fail. However while such schools are more concerned about nutrition and balanced diet, it has been discovered that Mama put floors them in the taste department.
14. Facility for foreign exams. Check. SAT, TOEFL, GMAT, Cambridge Checkpoint, IGCSE is a sine qua non. A school is not considered good until it can prepare students for and administer these exams.
15. Spoken English. Check. From my observation, students from different schools can be told apart by their ‘accent’, each school has its own unique ‘foreign’ accent, thanks to the school they attend. So in your quest for a good school, avoid schools have ‘Engiligbo’ English language spoken in Igbo as there lingua Franca, and schools that the teachers are versed in pidgin English and other local languages especially Yoruba as medium of conversation, you know schools where oil is called oyeli (Igbo)and teacher is pronounced shisha(Yoruba), the type of school you would find Akpors and his cohorts
16. Discipline. Check. A good school will gladly indulge the students and their parents, punishment is almost non-existent. Gone are the days of morning duty, sweeping and keeping our environment clean, clearing bushes e t c like we had it in our own time, a good school would usually pay people to do that. The heaviest punishment in a school that I know for example is washing your own plate for one week( Vivian Fowler), trust me, I make up for this at home by ensuring my children wash plates to the extent that they do a better job than our dishwasher. Note also that offences and punishment that go with them would have been printed and given to you before enrolment
17. Public image/ perception or call it goodwill if you like. A good school would usually not be an island.
|Walk to create awareness on dangers inherent in Drug Abuse, Vivian Fowler.|
|Care for the less privileged children in the society.|
|Excursion, a visit to the Oba of Badagry|
It should be involved in what goes on in the society and in the area it is located and once in a while be featured in local newspapers and magazines for one good deed or the other it carries out and how it affects the society positively.
18. Facilities and amenities that are up to international standard; to cap it all, a good school must invest in these. Some schools have air conditioned classrooms( Chrisland) and they run power generators through out the school day except when there is PHCN. Laboratories must be able to compete with that of any school outside the shores of Nigeria. Well kept lawns, fields etc are also essential.
|Halls of residence, just like home.|
|Well kept lawn, Vivian Fowler.|
19. Vibrant PTA. Check. A good school would have the creme de la creme of the society as members of its PTA, giving rise to networking opportunities and competition amongst parents in giving, sponsoring, playing and yes praying together, you could even learn a few new ways of speaking in tongues(just kidding) .
20. Have I forgotten any other point? Add your own.
If you are armed with this check list you can’t go wrong when choosing a good school for your child, how has your school search journey been?