Preparing one’s child for either primary or secondary school education could be a very tough task for parents especially when preparations are not adequately made. This is because parents suddenly realize there are many issues to consider which hitherto have not really been given serious thought. Part of those issues is the choice of school their child should attend.

According to online figures, there are over twelve thousand private schools and more than one thousand, six hundred government-owned schools in Lagos state. Making a fulfilling choice among all these schools requires more than luck. While many pupils have ended up with an 18th-century education in a 21st-century era due to the school they find themselves, some schools have also provided low standard schooling for their pupils.

As parents, the onus is on you to make adequate research and preparations in order to ensure your child has access to nothing but the best in terms of proper education. Though 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. Paying high school fees is not necessarily tantamount to great outcomes.

Below are important factors parents and guardians must consider before enrolling their children to any school. Every other factor is woven around these five.

1. The Vision and Mission of the School. As simple as this may sound, 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 a joke or unserious. Values and ideals 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 as a parent 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 their strict adherence to it 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 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 a world-class thinker and change agent. Even the landscape of the school was designed to showcase excellence in building technology and encourage students, staffs, 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 the sake of the future of your child, you cannot overlook it.

2. 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 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 or sexual abuse among the students or staff and how are those 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 those 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 experiences not because they are not well-trained as an individual, but due to the kind of school, they find themselves.

3. Are the schools accessible within a reasonable distance? Our modern society is daily undergoing a transformation of different kinds ranging from social, infrastructural, economic and political. All these levels of transformation also impact our daily lifestyles. 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 which are far from home tend to get late to school most of the time which ultimately affect 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 will find it difficult to concentrate on his or her studies. So a school within a driving distance of about 10-20 minutes and trekking distance of 10- 30 minutes time frame is ideal for any student. The cost of transporting these kids to school whether via a private, hired or public vehicles due to long distances also affect the family budget. Except for special cases, a parent 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.

4. 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 to be one of the oldest secondary schools in Nigeria located on the Island in Lagos state during the course of my work. I was amazed by the degree of serenity, orderliness, cleanliness and their general standard on excellence. It was a boys’ school and their academic and sporting facilities are designed to be youth-friendly. I saw dignity and excellence written all over the few students I encountered on my way to few offices I visited. The image 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 dilapidated with no plan for rehabilitation. Some are constructed with no safety considerations or plans for the students while others are without at least, one 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, check those things out.

5. Are their fees affordable? 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 ‘being arrived’ until reality dawn on them and the innocent kids had to be withdrawn from such school. 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 the parents couldn’t afford the new term fees. Some have shamefully moved their kids to another school for same reason with flimsy excuses to friends and relatives. 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 financial capacity for per time. There are plenty good schools around. As the Lord blesses or enlarge your financial coast, your kids can move to a better school.

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Olusegun Akinade

Olusegun Akinade is an author, entrepreneur, blogger, career coach, HSE advocate, public speaker and youth coach per excellence. His first book; "Me and My Future Career" is a bestseller amongst Pre-University students and in secondary schools at large.

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