The president of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Ogun State chapter, ALHAJI RILWAN OLABODE HASSAN, in this interview with WOLE EFUNNUGA speaks on the falling standard of the nation’s education and why it became imperative for NAPPS to intervene. Excerpts:
AS a stakeholder in the nation’s education sector, what would you attribute to the falling standard of education and how can the nation get it right?
I think it is a two-way thing. It is falling in certain areas just as it has increased in standard in some areas. Frankly speaking, I believe we have all contributed to the falling standard of education in Nigeria. How do I mean? Let’s take parents for instance. A lot of parents these days don’t have time for their children. The home trainings that we had in those days are no longer there. Our own parents had time for us. When we returned from school, our parents would ask what we did in school. Even those of them who did not have Western Education still found time to go to school to inquire about the performance of their wards. Again, home discipline was there. Our parents did not leave everything into the hands of teachers. Nowadays, immediately a woman leaves the labour room, she wants to entrust the care of the baby to handlers, claiming that she has to report in the office. In those days, it took our mothers years to win a child. Today, the story is different. That is for the parents. On the part of the governments, it appears they are biting off more than they can chew. The so- called free education is not free in the real sense of it. During Papa Obafemi Awolowo’s free education policy, some of us gained a lot then. These days, those who claim to be giving free education found it difficult to give students two to three text books. And if a student is unfortunate to miss one of these books, the parents are in trouble. What is the need in giving a student textbooks that he/she cannot take home to read? In most government schools, there are no sufficient textbooks, even note books. Governments are just playing politics with the whole thing. And now, to the classrooms. Though government has qualified teachers in the classrooms, the students’ population is another thing entirely. In some classes, there are over 100 students in a class.
The infrastructural facilities are decaying and yet the government will tell you it wants to embark on new projects. Years after, they are yet to complete them. The old structures are there unrepaired. Some of these structures are collapsing and killing people.In addition, there is no more discipline in schools. Not that one is encouraging corporal punishment, but there is need for discipline.
Were these points you highlighted reasons that gave birth to NAPPS?
Yes, the falling standard in government schools was one of the factors that gave birth to NAPPS.We saw the need for us to correct that and those of us who had the means to fund formation of schools rose to the occasion. We saw it as a social responsibility and we decided to take the bull by the horn so as to salvage the situation.
To what extent would you say you have achieved this desire?
If you go by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) standard, over 70 percent of trophies being given to best students went to those from private schools. That shows the standard that the private schools are made of. This record is as a result of qualified manpower and the technology that the private schools injected into their curriculum. The question is, how many schools can the government fund and equip their ICT laboratories?
It appears all is not well among proprietors in Ogun State. What is the bone of contention?
The problem we are having is basically that of personality issue. Some members felt disgruntled over the administrative style of the former president, Dr Abayomi Jiboku. They were not in tune with the way he was running his administration, rather than come together for dialogue, they shifted base and decided to run a parallel administration.
So, there is division in Ogun NAPPS?
I will say there is an issue we are trying to resolve and we will soon resolve it and come together. As you are aware, where we are holding this interview is the state secretariat and there is a leadership in place, headed by my humble self. The issue we are resolving is still in court and I will not want to go into a matter that is before the court.
What is the relationship between NAPPS and state government like?
For about three years now, we had good, solid relationship with the government especially under Mr Odubela as the state commissioner for education. There was no decision the government took without consulting us as stakeholders. Today, the situation is changing and we do not like it. There had been series of letters from us protesting some policies. We are not pleased with this and we urge the government to reconsider its position in the interest of all.