We are having a new wave of challenge in Nigeria which bothers more on the safety of the school child and the negligence in school management.
It is global desire that every child has access to quality education across regions of the world, we in Nigeria in African region are battling towards ensuring this goal is achieved. There are obvious challenges ranging from the state and standard of education coupled with the cost of education. These are huge enough challenges for parents owing to the failure on the part of government in their inability to provide requisite and enabling infrastructures in schools and measurable regulations of the entire educational system. There are public schools which are generally a far cry of what schools in the real sense should be, there are places where children seat on the floor to learn and even in some regions within the country where children learn under trees or buildings without roofs. I get really worried what kind of education or learning that can be achieved under such conditions.
In trying to find a way out of this total mess in Nigerian education sector, access to quality schools have fallen into the hands of the private sector groups even some of these schools are owned by individuals who destroyed the education sector when they were in government. Parents in their honest desire to give their children quality education have swooped into patronising these private schools where a child access to quality education is sold at an astronomical rate beyond what most parents can even afford. This has placed parents under increased daily pressure and undue stress which has become a huge confounder of the decreasing health expectancy of the Nigerian people.
It has become even more frustrating the government inability to rightly regulate these schools and this failure on the part of government bites the emotions of parents and sometimes leaves most parents with very heavy traumatic experience. The quality and standard in academic delivery is an issue for another day but in the context of this expression we need to look at the issue that bothers on the health and safety of these children while under the care of the schools.
Lately, we have heard of a number of cases where kids who were conveyed to schools by the school bus which their parents are invoiced for, end up being killed due to the carelessness and recklessness of the school bus drivers. This further leaves the parents with such an enormous pain that nothing can sooth. I cried helplessly at work one afternoon when my wife called me on the phone to tell the school bus that my children ride on has killed a school child under the driver and the minder's care, i literally died at the break of that news. The boy who was about 3 years old, an only son of his parents was crushed by the school right before his two elder sisters who alerted from the same school bus, what a trauma. I was told the boy got down from the bus but his water bottle fell from him and rolled slightly towards the tyre of the bus and the boy went for the water bottle the bus was suddenly reversed and crushed the boy to death right in front of his house. As i write this story, there are still tears in my eyes because i am yet to get over this heart renting picture. I am grateful to God for his mercies everyday, placed in the same condition as this parents i am not sure i will survive but i thank God each time i see the parents of this little boy and the way God has helped them to manage and cope with the situation. There are cases too many to recount.
There was another case where a school bus loaded beyond the capacity of the bus was conveying children to school and it caught fire, some children died while some were rescued.
· Are these private schools really approved, registered and regulated by government?
· Before a school is sited, are there not supposed to be guidelines that must be met?
· When we see school buses that are in very bad condition conveying children to school, can we really stop the buses and call for government sanctions. If we call, will government duly respond?
· Who inspects the safety of the school environment?
· Shouldn't we parents inspect properly and carry out a safety and security search before sending out children and wards for admission into such schools?
· Who checks the conditions of the children living in boarding houses?
· What about the issue of food safety?
· Are there sanctions? If yes, who sanctions and to what extent?
· Who reviews the quality and lifestyle checks of school owners and the teaches alike?
· Child assault and violence against children, what do they mean to parents?
· Do parents measure what they get with what they pay for?
· Is there an agency responsible to receiving parent's complaints?
Many questions begging for answers.
If the future we hope for must be better than what we currently have, then the need to look inward schools is a strong imperative of everyone including the machinery of government irrespective of political differences. This is the future.
Parents pay so much and for these services and hurting them having collected their hard earned money is a disservice and a criminal act. A story of another family who sent their 3 months old son to a creche, they have such a heart touching story to share on how their son was manhandled in the creche and how the boy eventually died.
Both parents work and they had to send their 3 months old son to creche, they drop him on their way to work and pick him while returning from work. This fateful day, they picked the child home after work and in the middle of the night, the child started crying uncontrollably with running temperature and they tried managing him till about 5.00am when they had to rush him to a hospital where the boy's uncle works. Immediately they got in, they admitted the boy into an intensive care unit without delay, they battled endlessly to save his life. The Doctor came out of the ICU much later and told the father of the boy, "this is a very serious case, the boy has a damage in his brain". Obviously, this boy must have fallen while in creche and hit his head and the incident was never reported to the parents yet the boy was under a creche paid for by a labouring parent. May God bless the soul of that little boy who eventually died out of human negligence in what was trusted in to their care.
I am sure many of us have read the stories i had published on the incident that involved my son and a daughter of another family who lost their lovely daughter called Morenike under same negligence www.facebook.com/changingtheworldnetwork.
We all cannot keep quiet and allow such evil to prevail, we have put up a social movement called "Movement Against Negligence In Schools" (MANIS) it is non government and non profit social movement and we are calling on all parents and interest groups to identify with this movement, lend their voices, file in complaints, it must not be your child but when you speak out for some person's child, angel will watch over your own.
Go to our facebook page and like it www.facebook.com/groups/advocacyforchildsafetyatschools and www.facebook.com/changingtheworldnetwork we are using both pages for this change.
Please publish your stories in these pages and let's put energy together on this issues and ensure we stop these wrongs.