27 Nov 2012

Free Education

image src: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/free-education
About 4 weeks ago, shortly after we resumed from the mid-term break, I noticed a line in front of the counselor’s office. The students gathered round with their parents. They were holding brooms, hoes and the textbooks for mathematics and English. These students were registering for admission into the Senior Secondary School. It is now two weeks to the end of school and this scene has all but disappeared. The random lone student carrying their registration material as they approach the counselor’s office has replaced it. Apart from the hoes, brooms and textbooks, they will also be responsible for providing their own furniture.
Quite a few have not registered; this has created a problem for class teachers compiling lists of students. When I arrived at the school today, the assembly was still in session. The teachers where clustered just by the steps of the staff-room overlooking the students. I could hear the counselor having a rather passionate
conversation about the SS1 students.

“Some of these parents are just stupid. They show up at the office and they have not bought the textbooks for their children. How much are the textbooks exactly? Just about N1000 each. Meanwhile, before now, the students were required to buy textbooks for 5 essential subjects. But I was the one that went to beg the
principal that we should reduce it to two. At least, the students can buy the others later. But the parents! Even the two they don’t want to buy. They will be coming to beg me to please let their children register. I always send them away. I tell them to get out. Stupid people! They will go and be buying aso ebi instead of
buying books for their children”

“Ha! They must keep up appearances. You know nobody can see that their children are not doing well in school,” I said.

“That is the problem. They are more interested in party than their children’s success. They don’t realize that they are just creating more problems for themselves. These children will grow up and get pregnant, at least the girls will. The boys will just get someone’s daughter pregnant. Then they will come and dump the children on them. They just create a cycle of problems for themselves.”

After the teachers had done the requisite sighs and given a healthy round of interjections, she continued, “ I mean this free education thing is a problem within itself. When parents start to believe that they have no responsibility in their children’s education, this is when they start to believe they can get away with not providing books and other necessary things. I mean, am I supposed to be buying books for all these children? Where is that money going to come from? They don’t realize that there is no money in the school and we can’t afford to do much.”

Just as she was finishing her statement, the vice principal arrived and told the teachers to remind the students to pay for their exams scripts. I was so flabbergasted I actually asked for a clarification, “Really, they will pay for their exams?”

“Of course, who will pay for it otherwise?”

by Sinmi
2012 9JEducation.org work-study

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