Searching for a good school in Nigeria? It's like a boy who buys a bottle of cold soft drink to chill on a sunny afternoon. He grabs the cover, opens hastily and gobbles ferociously as the drink rolls down his throat. Abruptly he stops, stares deeply into the details on the bottle, then he angrily throws the remaining drink into the nearest waste bin. The drink is sour – it’s expired!
The above scenario is similar to a parent who enrolls a 10 year-old into a beautiful school after a long search throughout the long vacation for a choice school. Only four weeks into the session, the parent realises the school only hides under the façade of beautiful buildings and truly has no value for the exorbitant tuition. What is the parent going to do? Take the child away from the school in the middle of the term or wait until another session ends then change school again?
Of course you cannot dispose a mistaken school brand like you would a bottle of bad drink! Parents who don’t want to gamble with the future of their children must investigate in order to ascertain facts about available schools. But what facts really should be investigated? We know it can be a cumbersome task for parents to know just exactly what features to look out for in a school before enrolling their wards; below is a list put together by the team at Edusko to provide some help to parents.
1. Excellent learning environment. Excellent learning environment goes beyond air-conditioned or marble-floored rooms, (these are what you’ll find in many private schools nowadays). You should be concerned about the learning environment of the school, is it a serene or an industrial noisy area? What are the classes like? Crowded classes may not be an appropriate learning environment. If it is a boarding school, you should be interested in knowing the routines after school hours.
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2. Trained and experienced staff. Unemployment has increased the number of unmotivated teachers. What we are saying is that many of the teachers you’ll find in schools are neither qualified nor satisfied with the teaching job. Whereas, professionalism and job satisfaction are key to the teaching profession. The right school however, employs passionate teachers who possibly have attended institutions that trained them for the teaching profession. Your wards may be safer in the hands of trained teachers, other than random graduates who lack experience and training of teaching.
3. Welfare of staff. No matter how much a school spends on advertising, words of mouth by staff would make or mar such school brand faster. The right school takes seriously the welfare of its staff. A teacher whose salary is delayed is not motivated. When choosing a school for your child, go for a school that takes the welfare of its staff seriously; staff are loyal to school brand that is loyal to them and they want to stay longer with such school. This is good for your child because you don’t want him/her to be taught by 12 different Mathematics teachers before he finishes his/her elementary or secondary school education.
4. Appropriate facilities. Are there well equipped laboratories and library? Do students have access to computers and possible internet connectivity? What about interactive boards or screens in the classroom? Are there good sporting facilities to exercise mind and body? Do students have opportunity of excursions and trips to relevant places in the world –local and international? The right school will make provision for skill acquisition programs to help students discover, develop and utilize their God-given talent.
5. Student-teacher ratio. In some schools, a teacher may have to teach more than two subjects at different levels/classes due to lack of adequate teaching staff. This practice is disadvantageous to students as such teacher becomes a Jack of all trades and master of non. The right school is child-oriented rather than profit-oriented. A child-oriented school would employ adequate qualified teachers in order to meet the needs of students. It's been recommended that a classroom shouldn't contain more than 20 students.
6. Discipline among teachers and students. You visit a school and students pass you by without saying courtesies; students evade school rules and regulations and go scot free; teachers miss their classes at will and management does nothing serious about it; teachers don’t have class control and cannot administer discipline. A school that allows for any of the above is certainly not the right school for your child.
7. Communications with parent/guidance. Are parents and guidance involved in important decision making process on matters that affect the well-being of students? Does the school communicate with parents and guidance effectively? The right school takes the opinion of parents seriously and carries all stakeholders along in the progress and development of school. Some schools only relate with parents when the issue of school fees comes up, the right school goes a step further, it sees parents and guidance as an integral part of the school that cannot be taken for granted.
8. School’s image. The right school is keen on its image outside the school's walls. The right school will do anything within its power to build a good reputation through the media, events and other means by which its target audience (parents) can be reached. The right school does not only win awards, the right school is proud to showcase it achievements and more so, the right school has got people talking about it.
Are you a parent, teacher or stakeholder in the education space? Are there other critical factors we've not highlighted in this article? Let's have your thoughts in the comment section below: