The education of our children will always be a topic of discussion. Year after year, parents, politicians and educators have the difficult task of arming our future leaders with the proper training. As difficult a task this maybe, if we can even the playing field for all children in public and private schools then it makes our jobs a lot easier.
The importance of education has always been emphasized over the ages. For example, Cohn (1979) states that education is the single most important determinant of a person’s economic and social success. Cohn quotes some world-famous philosophers to support this assertion. According to Cohn, Plato had declared that “the direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life”. Also, Plato had affirmed that, “education is the best provision for old age” and that, “educated men are as much superior to uneducated men as the living is to the dead”
What is Private School?
A private school is a school that does not depend on the Government’s Education administration and funding. It is not financially helped by either the local, state or federal government, rather they are funded in whole or in part by tuition she asks her students. The government do not intervene in the affairs of private schools, they do that only to check that it does not infringe public order and does not contravene good morals. A Private school is often owned and run by an individual or a group of persons. Private schools are also referred to as “non-contract” schools since no contract binds them to the government (Chubb 2015).
What is a Public School?
A Public school is a school directly administered and controlled by the Ministry and includes a school, educational institution or class established and maintained by the Minister. The public school system is divided into Kindergarten, Primary education, Secondary education and Tertiary education.
Melding the Gap between Public and Private Schools In Nigeria
In Nigeria, private schools are different from public schools in so many ways. If the gap between the two can be bridged, some of these differences must be identified and addressed.
Size of the classroom: Private schools have always maintained the globally recommended class size standard of a teacher to a pupil/student ratio of 1:25 at all levels of the educational system. The numbers of students are small and the teachers are motivated and attentive: the students can thus benefit from an individualized follow-up. When the pupils/students are few in the class the teacher can reach out to every one of them and attend to their individual learning needs. Sadly, the teacher to pupils/students ratio is hovering between 1:114 and 1:122 in public schools. With this large number, the teacher cannot be effective and will ultimately not be able to reach out to all students and meet their individual learning needs.
Strikes Actions: Private schools do not belong to any labour unions and therefore, do not participate in any strike action. This has helped them to maintain their academic calendar and full coverage of their syllabus. While public schools belong to various labour unions and often participate in strike actions to press home their demands. In 2013, sixty public universities were paralysed by strikes for more than five months over demands for funding increases and better employment benefits for university staff.
Teaching Facilities: For effective teaching and learning to take place, facilities such as books, teaching aids, libraries, laboratories, etc., are very necessary. Private schools ensure that these facilities are adequately provided to facilitate and enhance teaching and learning. But these facilities are either not provided or are obsolete in most public schools.
Training: Refresher courses, workshops, seminars and training are regularly given to teachers to improve their knowledge and skills by the private school owners. While teachers in public schools rarely get opportunities for training to improve their knowledge and skills.
School Fees: Exorbitant tuition fees and other sundry charges are peculiar with private schools. For instance, in the 2017/2018 academic session, the most expensive private primary, secondary and university are America International School (Elementary), Lagos, USD 27,232 (N9,857,984) per annum, America International School (High School), Lagos, USD 31,228 (N11,304,536) per annum and Babcock University, Nigeria, between N620,000 and N3million depending on the programme of study.
Even the cheapest of the private schools is above the financial strength of so many poor families, hence the need for the three tiers of government to intensify efforts to improve the quality of education in the public schools.
Freedom of Operation: Private schools unlike their public counterparts in Nigeria enjoy total educational freedom (choice of methods, timetables, teaching methods, programs). Private schools have the freedom to admit or recruit who they want and are therefore not obliged to keep students who have decided to create disorder or who radically challenge the spirit of the school, as is the case with the public and, to a certain extent, in private schools under contract. Parents whose children or wards attend private schools are free and can change their school child if they wish, which pushes the teaching team to give the best of themselves.
Lack of Life skills: The challenges public schools face have directly impacted students. In a recent study by YouthTruth, over 55% of students report they are unprepared for life after high school.
Another survey by StageOfLife revealed that about 66% of young people are afraid of life after graduation from school for lack of adequate preparation. Following a report by CNN, 75% of school students engage in serious malpractices – without even knowing they’re cheating. This includes sharing answers and plagiarizing.
These statistics are an important indicator of just how ill-prepared graduates and teenagers are for life after school graduate. These young people battle with even the most primal life skills including:
- How to save and budget money
- How to Communicate when they have a problem
- How to take notes
- How to study
- How to manage time
- How to deal with adversity
In conclusion, the fact that the nation’s education sector is in disarray is no longer news. All and sundry must wake up to the realities of the present time. Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out; hence individuals, the government and organizations must do their bits as matters have reached frightening proportions and dimensions.