Pastor George O. Odunoye, Executive Director, St George Group of Schools, Ifo, Ogun state, speaks with EMMANUEL UDOM, on the likely reasons the worship of money could negatively affect our education sector, the role of public and private schools in arresting the tide of falling standard of education in Nigeria.
Is standard of education falling in Nigeria?
No, the standard of education is not falling, but overtime societal values seem to have placed more emphasis on money and wealth and this has a negative effect on education.
Today, in Nigeria, some of us worship, respect and adore moneybags, without questioning the sources of their wealth.
So, what is the link between the love and worship of money and education?
In the olden days, teachers and traditional rulers were respected as custodians of wisdom and tradition.
But, today, poverty and the rat-race for money and wealth has forced some of us to abandon timely values of the fear of God, discipline and morality in desperate search for wealth.
In the past, students aspired and were dreaming of training and growing up to become teachers.
But, today, most students are thinking of becoming medical doctors, pharmacists, engineers, accountants, bankers, lawyers, etc, where they expect to make it quick.
The love of money that the Bible says is the root of all evil has crept into the education sector and fewer students in public and private schools are no longer interested in studying to become teachers, when they grow up.
What roles should parents or guardians play here?
In fairness, there are millions of parents out there who know the values of education and are making sacrifices to train their children both in schools, churches and mosques in the way of the God.
But, in our beloved country, where 80% of the population is living below poverty-line, some parents and guardians, as I said earlier are in the rat-race for money, wealth.
These parents think since money answered all things, they could buy their ways, intimidate or impose their will on school authorities, especially when their children are in private schools, since they pay the tuition fees.
How do you mean sir?
I run a private nursery, primary and secondary schools here in Ifo, Ogun state. The state has one of the best guidelines on education in Nigeria and there are more than 1000 registered private schools in Ifo.
Some parents think because they pay schools fees that have every right under the sun to tell school authorities how to run their schools.
This is not correct. Private schools are established to compliment the educational efforts of public schools. Education is all about applying passion and business, in nurturing the students from the cradle to the grave.
In my schools, I do not accept parents lording over the schools and I have had cause in the past to return the school fees to parents who tried to resist their children being corrected after several warnings.
Away from this, compare and contrast public and private schools in the education sector?
Like in all the states across the federation, public and private schools are under the supervisions of the education ministries at various levels. But, private schools have associations.
Observation shows that public school teachers are well trained with certificates and well paid. But, there seems to be little supervision, over-crowding of the classrooms, inadequate teaching aids and equipment.
In some standard private schools, the teachers may not be education graduates, may be receiving peanuts as salaries, but there is a high degree of supervisions, with low teacher-to-students ratio.
What then is your advice to government on how to salvage the education sector?
Government at various levels should take their regulatory functions more effectively. Funds should be made available to the education miniseries to tackle their various challenges; supervisions of public schools should be geared up, and teaching aids and equipment should also be provided.