An educationist and proprietor of Access International School, Magboro, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Ogun State, Mr. Jonathan Akpan, has said that the country has enough resources to finance free education.
Akpan also analysed the problems with the nation?s education sector and said that inconsistent government policy and wrong attitude were part of the challenges facing the sector.
He said, ?Nigerian students are not dull. Their counterparts in other countries are not better than them. But there are facilities in other countries. In the universities I visited, such as Oxford and Cambridge, each student walks into campuses with his or her laptop.
?Also in Ghana, teacher training colleges are free. Students enjoy free food and uniform. They do not pay school fees. Government subsidises high school students. Some people may say their population is not large, but we (Nigeria) have resources to provide these free for our children.?
On the problems bedevilling the sector, the proprietor said that these included inconsistent government policy, unfriendly environment and stakeholders? negative attitude.
He said, ?Government, for example, is not assisting the students. There are no plans for children in the country. If you doubt me, go to Mowe or Ibafo now. You will see children hawking eggs and bread.
?In England, children do not hawk. It is an offence for children to hawk. Over there, they provide for children. They provide textbooks and writing materials. The children there are made to read. The reverse is the case here.?
The proprietor identified poverty as another problem in the sector.
He said, ?If you ask parents to buy books for their children, they will tell you that they have not collected their pension. How will such parents get money to buy books? We must help parents to provide for their children. But we should also protect the children?s rights.?
He called for a law that would protect the rights of children.
?A child must know that he or she is entitled to free education, like the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo did in the Western Region and other regions refused to copy. If we want to do the right thing, we must make education free for every child,? he added.
He added that adequate facilities should be provided for the schools as a way of motivating the pupils to give their best.
He faulted Nigerian schools using British and American curricular, saying that there is nothing wrong with the Nigerian curriculum.
?The Nigerian curriculum is good. Anyone that feels that our curriculum is not good is deceiving himself. We should do things based on our environment,? he said.
The educationist, whose school won the International Quality Award in London, said that the standard of education in the country was not falling.
?I said that those who were saying it was falling were only painting a bad picture. If the system is not working, I could not have gone there to receive an award. The organisers of the award sent representatives to this school to see things for themselves. The school is of high academic and moral standards,? he said.