Hello friends, it gives me great pleasure to be here with you today in the spirit of Social Empowerment Advocacy. Please note that the reason for this exercise is to help you become a regulatory body in the lives of your children. The truth is that the regulatory bodies in the educational system in Nigeria are asleep. In fact they are not only sleeping and snoring, they are comatose. Like it is in every area of our life in the Third World, we must become private regulatory bodies in matters that relate to our children. We have PHCN, yet as a private regulatory body we have generators. In fact generator has become the main source of electricity while PHCN has become the alternative. We have the Nigeria Police Force, yet we have private security arrangements including vigilante groups. We have Water Corporation, yet we have to dig wells and boreholes. In summation individually, we operate like Local Government Chairmen. Though, we are tax payers, we run a budget for almost everything we pay tax for. Most painfully, we are responsible for our own security and welfare.
The educational system is not different. Though there are public schools, we make register our children in private schools. Same way PHCN, Water Corporation, The Nigerian Police and the rest cannot meet our needs; the public schools also are not able to meet our needs. Now, the private schools also are in different cadres and categories. The bottom line is that irrespective of their cadres and categories, they operate in an unregulated system, where the best practice of each private school is not commanded by the vigilance and effectiveness of the regulatory bodies but the sanity and commitment of the promoters and the vigilance of the parents and other stakeholders in the private schools system. It takes adherence to higher values for a citizen to live responsibility in a system where anything goes and you can settle all things with who you know or how much you are ready to spend. It is important to note that the adherence to higher value, I just mentioned is missing in our land today because of another serious factor, which is called survival mentality. Almost everyone in the land is trying to survive, whether we accept that fact or not. When a system is unstable and the security and the welfare of the people are no more the primary aims of governments at all levels, as envisaged by the principle of Social Contract, the people, the rich and the poor feel they are under siege and when you are under siege, you think of only one thing, safety and survival.
The evil I have found however is that only very insignificant percentage of parents, who register their children in private schools are conscious of their roles in an unregulated system. Many parents just wish with any empirical or scientific basis, which comes out of thorough investigation that all is well with the schools they register their children. Some parents have taken the bull by the horn by setting up schools that will meet their educational expectations of their children. While that is highly commendable, it is not still the direct answer to the situation. The way forward is for all of us as parents to move into the private schools sector and become active stakeholders and informed regulatory bodies in the defence of the best interest of our dear children.
It is in the light of the foregoing that I share with you these 15 tools, which I believe are able to help you to be effective regulatory bodies:
- What is the motive of the promoters of the school: Motive is very important. Every endeavour in life will not rise above the motive of its promoters. In my experience, I have found that there are two responses when you try to dig into the delicate issue of motive. The first is that the promoters tell you what you want to hear, that is the popular expectation. So if you ask promoters in the private school system their motive, you will surely hear things like ‘we have passion for children,’ ‘we want to give children the best of education,’ and so on. The second is the real motive behind setting up a school. People hardly tell you that because it is not popular, except few, who are genuinely committed to giving a future and a hope to our children or who are not afraid to tell you where they stand (you hardly find such though). Now, where do we go from here? Motive can never be hidden to the wise and professionals even if the owner of the motive tries vigorously to hide it. I have attended meetings with schools leaders in the company of some of the parents we consult for as Child Protection experts in trying to make a choice of schools for their children, no school leader has succeed in hiding their real motive thought they made brilliant attempt to do so.
I will like to continue tomorrow and I will discuss with you how to detect motives from one single discussion. I will show you the three kinds of schools owners, I have identified and their characteristics. Please make it a date with me tomorrow by the grace of God. Stay INSPIRED.