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After a long one hour walk, Tunde (15) gets to the gate of his secondary school. Alhaji the Gatekeeper is the first “obstacle” he has to tackle, with his short cane and transistor radio, Alhaji askes in broken English “Why you no tuck in your shirt and where your white stockings?”, while Tunde is trying to give his usual excuses, other defaulting students see it as a chance to sneak into the school premises, when Alhaji notices it, he decides to chase everyone and he eventually loses all the students as they sneak into their classroom
Classroom for most kids in public schools are densely populated having a large number of over 90 – 100 Students in a close-knit classroom. Tunde has over 120 classmates so he has to share a 3-seater chair with 4 of his peers, while they’re being taught in a small classroom that is not properly ventilated. In some public schools across the country the government fails to provide chairs and tables for the first year students (JSS 1) so it’s mandatory for the students to bring the own tables and chairs.
Although Nigeria’s education budget for education is 2 trillion Naira, most schools are still under equipped causing the students to learn in an environment that isn’t conducive.
Lagos State Teachers have been undergoing various workshop trainings such as the just concluded Behavioral Management course where they were trained by lecturers in Lagos Business School on Emotional Intelligence and other teaching skills. While the students engage in extra-curricular activities like Spelling Bee, Essay writing competitions, they have a popular football tournament called Principal Cup, all these to help the students to acquire educational and social skills.
As important as these training programs are for the teacher’s development, they become ineffective to the students when these students don’t have access to basic necessities on a regular basis. It takes more than just effective teachers for these students to understand and apply what they’re being taught in school.
Many of these students come to school hungry, although the federal govt claims to spends over $1.6m daily on feeding students, the figure isn’t reflective on these public schools, over 50% of them are mal-nourished. They have to learn algebra in an empty stomach while sitting in a poorly ventilated classroom for 8 hours. This is more than the school system, it’s more like the biproduct of a broken society.
After closing hours at 3 Pm, Tunde leaves from school and heads to the tailoring shop where he works as an apprentice, learning fashion designing. He is expected to stand and watch while his boss works. When he leaves the fashion designing shop at 7 pm, he goes back to his mum’s shop to help her sell till 9pm when his mum closes her shop. When he gets home, his family does their night prayer devotion then Tunde finally gets to sleep. Without having time to rest, do his assignment and revise what he was taught in school, Tunde goes to school every week without gaining anything academically.
Many kids in public schools are like Tunde, after closing hours they don’t return home, instead they resume in their Oga’s shop where the learn different handiworks like tailoring, carpentering and many others, although these skills are valuable, they are learnt at the expense of their educational development.
The teachers get queried by the govt officials when these students fail, leading to reports of teachers helping these students pass by upgrading their exam scores.
Tunde takes some days off from school, and he uses it to play Playstation 4 in Game Shop along with his friends. Leaving home for school at 7 am, he branches into the game shop where he plays gamble till 2 pm (The usual school closing time), mostly “Losers pay”: A kind of gamble where the losing side pays for the games played.