Preparing one’s child for either primary or secondary school education could be a very tough task for parents. This is partly because parents suddenly realize there are many issues to consider which hitherto have not really been given a serious thought.
Part of those issues is the choice of school their child should attend.
According to some online statistics, there are over twelve thousand private schools and more than one thousand, six hundred government-owned schools in Lagos, Nigeria. Making a fulfilling choice among all these schools requires more than luck.
In the midst of this large number of schools, you could be sure there will be all manner of educational provisions ranging from excellent rates to low standards. The quality of education your child receives in any school will to a large extent determine how he or she turns out academically.
Parents must make adequate research and preparations to ensure their children have access to nothing but the best in terms of proper education. Though the availability of funds could be a major factor in getting a sound education in this part of the world, there are still many schools with moderate school fees and excellent outputs. Payment of high school fees is not necessarily a guarantee or tantamount to great outcomes. There are loads of children who attended government-owned or what we call public schools and are like stars on earth in our society today.
Below are important factors parents and guardians must consider before enrolling their children in any school. Every other factor is woven around these five.
- The Vision and Mission of the School. As simple as this may sound, I believe it is the most important factor when it comes to enrolling your child in any school. What do they stand for in terms of values, orientations, and philosophies? Are they also driven by those values and ideals? If they are, you will see it in their actions and inactions on their current pupils, staff, school environment, and, in their operational setup. For instance, if a school stands for cleanliness as part of their values, and you notice the school environment (including the classes, dormitory, bathrooms, etc.) is dirty and untidy, it will be glaring for all to see and also proves that such a school system is not to be taken seriously. Values are what make life meaningful and predictable. An individual or organization without values is like a lost ship drifting in the midst of the ocean. As a matter of fact, decisions are easy to make when you already know your values. A wise man has said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”So what values do you want to be inculcated into your child? Is it godliness, honesty, excellence, or hard work? Then find a school that possesses such for your child. Are those values written on the school’s vision and mission statement for all to see? Are they practicing such values? It is the vision and mission of a school and its strict adherence to such that will determine whether your child will get a proper and complete education or not. It is also what will shape their thinking and lifestyle from a younger age to adulthood. My Alma mater where I obtained my first degree is Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and has her vision as “For learning and culture”. Every current student or alumnus of that great school will attest to the fact that those two objectives are daily drilled into the students to make them world-class thinkers and change agents. Even the landscape of the school was designed to showcase excellence in building technology and encourage students, staff, and visitors to engage in exercise on a daily basis. So pay attention to this number one factor. It could be a lifesaver. For some schools, values don’t matter to them and as such ‘anything goes’ but for you and for the sake of the future of your child, you cannot overlook it.
- Find out the history of the school. You need to conduct a background check about the intended school. Any school could have a beautiful edifice with a seemingly smooth and professional outlook which is good, but what actually goes on within the four walls of the school in terms of operational styles and overall organizational culture is very crucial. Don’t just register your child in any school because you think they are great and everything looks good and perfect on the surface, but ask questions from the school authority, parents, and teachers. What are their students’ performances in external examinations? Find out and ask to see their records? Are they owing any financial institutions some unpaid loans? If they are owing, what are their plans to repay such? You don’t want your child’s education to be disrupted during the session due to court cases. Are there instances of drug abuse or sexual harassment among the students and staff? If yes, how are the cases handled? Are there any cult-related issues among the students? These and more questions should be researched properly before registering your child in any school. If these issues are a regular occurrence, then be rest assured you have not found a decent school for your kid. Some students have become victims of all sorts of abuses and mental torture experiences due to the kind of school they find themselves.
- Are the schools accessible within a reasonable distance? Our modern society is daily undergoing a transformation of different sorts ranging from social, infrastructural, economic, and political. All these levels of transformation do have impacts on our daily life. For certain benefits, it is important parents enroll their children in schools that are not too far from home. Except for those in boarding schools, students who attend schools that are far from home tend to get late to school most of the time which ultimately affects their academic and overall performance. Such students also tend to return late after school hours due to traffic and tiredness which also affect their physical and mental health. A brilliant student who is always tired or having health issues due to a long commute to and fro school will find it difficult to concentrate on his or her studies.
So a school within a driving distance of about 10-20 minutes and a trekking distance of 10- 30 minutes’ time frame is ideal for any student. The cost of transporting these kids to school whether via private, hired or public vehicles due to long distances also affect the family budget. Except for special reasons, parents should put into consideration the distance of their children’s schools from home. If the school is very far, the child can be registered as a border, or at best the family moves close to it.
- Does the school have a student-friendly facility? You need to check whether the school facility is conducive for learning and great for the overall development of young minds. I once visited St. Gregory’s College which is reputed as one of the oldest secondary schools in Nigeria located on Lagos Island during the course of my work. I was amazed by the degree of serenity, orderliness, cleanliness, and their general standard of excellence. It was a boys’ school and their academic and sporting facilities were designed to be youth-friendly. I saw dignity and excellence written all over the few students I met on my way to few offices. The whole picture still remains with me for more than two years now. Imagine having your kids in such a school for six good years… don’t you think those values will rob on them and they will have a great time learning in such an environment? Some schools’ buildings are an eyesore while a lot was constructed with no safety considerations for the students. Some don’t even have any sporting facility or space for pupils to engage in sporting activities. Some boarding schools’ dormitories and kitchenettes are raring grounds for bedbugs and bacteria of all kinds.
Before you register your child in any school, check out these things.
- Are the fees affordable?I know for many parents; this factor would have been the very first. A lot of parents have put themselves into financial trouble just because they want their kids to attend the ‘best school’ in town. The initial feeling is always that of pride and a sense of ‘having arrived’ until reality dawn on them and the innocent kids had to be withdrawn due to inability to pay school fees. They have to battle with explaining ‘why’ to the kid who might have formed a strong bond with the school and friends in class.
Before you register your child in any school, it is important you consider your ‘pocket’ and budget. You don’t have to go into debt so your child can attend an elitist school, go for what you can afford per time. Some students have ended up being told to stay at home for some weeks because their parents couldn’t afford the new term fees. Some have shamefully moved their kids to another school due to this factor while offering flimsy excuses to friends and loved ones. You or your kids don’t have to go through troubles arising from being unable to pay school fees. Find a school you conveniently have the financial capacity for per time. There are plenty of good schools around. As the Lord blesses or enlarges your financial coast, your kids can then move to a better school.
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