You know they say until it hits you, you never feel it. Today, thousands of parents the nation all over having children about to cross into the secondary level of education and the tertiary level are pulling out their hair in frustration at a system that is broken and almost irretrievably scandalous.
So about fifty of us were ensconced in an air-conditioned common room in a high brow school nestled in Lekki. We had all left our houses at 4:00 am to get to the school just in time for the common entrance organised to admit new students into their secondary education. 97 children paying N15,000 each were screened to write an exam that we later found out would admit only 15 children. This was so because the school already had about 80 coming through their primary system into a structure that would take only 50.
So it was apparently lost on the school authority that with such limited space they did not have to sell forms to all and sundry since they already had excess within their primary system to fill the gaps. So with centres in three locations nationwide – Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna, they pulled in an excess of 300 candidates to write for 15 positions netting an estimated N10m in fraudulently received funds.
Who but the parents who remain hapless and desirous of giving their wards a fighting chance in this terrible society and with limited funds as occasioned by the terrible macroeconomic environment suffers.
It gets worse at the other end. The crossover to tertiary institutions. So you look to the terrible state in public schools and decide to go private. You get a better quality, still below world standard but pricing far above world standard. You are buffeted with huge bills and a child with better exposure and maybe diction. You relax and then as the child nears the end of the career, you begin to hear things like IGSE not being accepted by foreign universities. Oh, my God. The only reason why you agree to even pay the close to N1m per term fees was to go to the foreign University since you did not want your child to be killed or raped in our local universities. You remain stupefied to now hear that you would need independent tutors to tech WAEC!!!. Why these so-called highbrow schools would not put WAEC on their syllabus and teach separately despite these huge school fees continue to beat me.
And then you place a call to the independent teacher, who gleefully tells you that it is N10,000 per subject per hour. Doing a mental calculation on all 8 subjects, you will see that you will be paying far higher than what you paid to the school. The vulture smiles and tells you in between stained dirty brown teeth, that “it is for your child.”
Wait o, it gets worse. The sixth form tutorial colleges now drive through. Out of panic, you register your child simply to get a breather and raise some more funds to enable you pay for the foreign university and then you find out that you would have paid almost N5m for six months for almost no value. Your ward has just been enrolled in a glamourized ‘lesson’.
Who do we blame in all these apart from Government the obvious culprit? We have ourselves to blame especially our mothers who get carried away with all the faux glamour, faux British accents of the proprietors, like the one who spoke to us in Lekki and insist that our children should be taken through this system of organised fraud. So we get carried away with the outward showings and paraphernalia of a warped system without looking closer at the content and quality.
So why would you spend between N10million and N15million depending on the school for a secondary school tenor only to end up not being able to do the most important exam of them all – WAEC. The same WAEC that is being recognised by the so-called international schools.
Why would you pay N3.5m per year when just 20% of that amount can go into acquiring or adopting a public school and raising its standard to the point where it would be better than some of these grandiose carcasses we call private schools. Today the churches have done it. Look at Igbobi College and St. Gregory’s. Working with the alumni and the owners, they have been able to ramp up the standard still with moderate fees.
We equate high fees with quality and we usually end up battered. What we have today are entrepreneur players’ who have taken advantage of the system and left our children frustrated and naked.
I confess I do not have all the issues and may not understand it in its totality even if I am hit by a ton of bricks with it, what I am seeing is just a maze of confusion which is making me scream.
I would be sending a petition to the Senate in the coming weeks, seeking their intervention in all these. Because I am sure even the proprietors have their own story to tell. It is just a messed up situation only God can help us. Kai.