Education

Primary school class
© UNICEF Nigeria/2005/
Primary school pupils in class

Over the last decade, Nigeria’s exponential growth in population has put immense pressure on the country’s resources and on already overstretched public services and infrastructure. With children under 15 years of age accounting for about 45 per cent of the country’s population, the burden on education and other sectors has become overwhelming.

Forty per cent of Nigerian children aged 6-11 do not attend any primary school with the Northern region recording the lowest school attendance rate in the country, particularly for girls. Despite a significant increase in net enrollment rates in recent years, it is estimated that about 4.7 million children of primary school age are still not in school.

Increased enrollment rates have also created challenges in ensuring quality education and satisfactory learning achievement as resources are spread more thinly across a growing number of students. It is not rare to see cases of 100 pupils per teacher or students sitting under trees outside the school building because of the lack of classrooms.

This situation is being addressed by current efforts of the Nigerian Government with the implementation of the Basic Education scheme. The compulsory, free Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act was passed into law in 2004 and represents the Government’s strategy to fight illiteracy and extend basic education opportunities to all children in the country.

However the number of schools, facilities and teachers available for basic education remain inadequate for the eligible number of children and youths. This is more so in urban areas where there is population pressure. Under these conditions, teaching and learning cannot be effective; hence the outcomes are usually below expectation.

Another challenge in Nigeria is the issue of girls’ education. In the North particularly, the gender gap remains particularly wide and the proportion of girls to boys in school ranges from 1 girl to 2 boys to 1 to 3 in some States.

Many children do not attend school because their labour is needed to either help at home or to bring additional income into the family. Many families cannot afford the associated costs of sending their children to school such as uniforms and textbooks. For others, the distance to the nearest school is a major hindrance. Another cause of low enrolment, especially in the North, is cultural bias. Most parents do not send their children, especially girls, to school and prefer to send them to Qur’anic schools rather than formal schools.

Even when children enrol in schools, many do not complete the primary cycle.  According to current data, 30% of pupils drop out of primary school and only 54% transit to Junior Secondary Schools. Reasons for this low completion rate include child labour, economic hardship and early marriage for girls.

In the last few years, especially since the launching of the Universal Basic Education Act, much has been achieved in the reconstruction of dilapidated school buildings and construction of new ones, supply of desks and other needed furniture as well as the provision of toilet facilities.

However, the child friendly school concept, which UNICEF is advocating for, is not comprehensively adopted by the various States in Nigeria. A majority of primary schools, especially in rural areas, lack water, electricity and toilet facilities. For example, on average, there is only one toilet for 600 pupils in the primary school system. Despite political commitment to trying to reverse years of neglect in the education sector and a significant increase of the Federal funding, investment in basic education is still low compared to other Sub-Saharan countries.

For all these reasons, prospects of Nigeria achieving Education For All by 2015 remain frail.

Valedictory Speech of 2015/2016 School Session presented By: Rev. Fr. Basil EGBUJOR SC

 

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The Chairman,

The Father and mother of the day,

Special guests of honour,

All invited guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

I stand before you this afternoon to thank God for witnessing this year’s Valedictory service, and the graduation of the S.S.III students of 2015/2016 session. Today officially, we are coming to the end of another session and each of us can evaluate how the year has been. For some too tough, for others not quite tough, but for all at least, it has not been easy. But despite the difficulties God has brought us safe and sound to the end of this academic year. May his name be blessed both now and forever. Amen!

Our “Graduants” have come to the “T” junction of their carrier making. An important step in their history, where they have to decide which way forward. Here the question “what do you want to become in life” becomes very pertinent.

It is a thing of joy that little by little our population is growing, from 36 students last three years to 52 students at the end of this year of which 13 are graduating today. We pray and are working towards the increase in number of the students. Like the pasts sets, we also look forward towards to your excellent performance in all the papers you wrote during the WAEC and NECO examinations. I would simply want to advise that you grow steadily in the line of training given to you in this school, so that you would develop into more responsible citizens of our country. I therefore anchor my advice on the theme “Be focused in life”, I wish to remind you that hard work, discipline and self organization are the elements you need to achieve being an organised person in life.

Life is like a circle, when you run through it, you will meet people at certain points. Be good to whoever you meet at any point, because you never can tell when again you will meet them. Maybe in a position where you would need their help. So never ignore or look down on people no matter how they are at present or what they were in the past. Remember the good morals you were thought in this school, honesty, discipline, punctuality, respect for others especially the less privileged of the society, and above all seriousness in your studies. These are the virtues that are recommended by all religions, practice them therefore. My dear little ones, as you are going out into the world, you will be faced with so many challenges such as cultism, assassination, armed robbery, prostitution, kidnapping, political toggery, 419, drug addiction, etc. The choice will be yours. But keep it in mind that whatever choice you make, will have consequences (Good or bad). All you need is the great gift of love to be able to make a positive and profitable choice.

I want to use this opportunity also to thank and encourage your parents who have toiled hard and heavy under rain and sunshine to provide for you and make sure that you arrive at this level of your formation in life. It is true that with many parents we fought to make sure that your school fees were paid. Things are very difficult economically, we know it, but we had no choice than to push you to accept and respond to your tasks. You have invested in these your children; we pray that you may be alive to reap the fruit of the harvest of this beautiful and life lasting investment. I know they would like to proceed academically, please continue till the end you will not regret it. My dear students, one of the most important ways you can be grateful to the efforts of your parents is to always excel in your academic and life endeavors, do them proud not only by prostrating to greet them in the morning, but also by demonstrating the good moral behaviors you have been thought in school. Let your Alma-Mater Royal College be proud of you when eventually you join in the great association of Alumni of this noble institute.

To our remaining students and staff, I am sure by now you would have noticed the air of purpose with which we intend to pursue our goal of top quality of international standards. The baton is being handed over to you, continue the relay race!

To the Principal, teachers and non academic staff, I want to note how much we appreciate all the hard work and diligence you put in the effort to build a strong and viable college. I thank each and every one of you for making this day a memorable one. I know that surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life, for one day you shall receive your reward from God and perhaps from these children also.

Haven said this, permit me to share with you our work of education. Why Royal college? Who manages it? The latest! The latest is that Royal College has been bought over by The Congregation of the Servants of Charity. Who are they? The Congregation of the Servants of Charity is  a society of Catholic priests and religious lay men, founded by St. Luigi Guanella in Italy more than one hundred years ago with the aim of helping persons who are poor, weak and abandoned, in particular the orphans, the aged, and mentally disable. To continue in the work of charity, we see the need of contributing to a qualitative secondary education that is quite affordable to the lowest class. Therefore, Royal College has been transformed into a Catholic Secondary School, managed by the Priests and Brothers who are members of the this religious family. How do we hope to achieve this aim?

The Aim of the work

We all should be aware of the basic aims of giving an education to young students: it is not a matter of giving them pieces of knowledge (that they will easily forget) or simply imposing on them some behaviour that they may easily abandon later in life. The art of teaching, especially during the years of adolescence, is much more than “telling the students what we know, for them to memorise it”. Teaching youngsters of this age, means giving the students equipment for their life, preparing the luggage they will need along their life journey.

The Contents

Four are the “pieces of luggage” the students will need, and these are the things we want to give them:

  • Values:
    • the value of every human life, the values of love and respect in the family
    • the value of friendship, community living, good citizenship in democratic responsibility
    • the value of honest work, for oneself and for the common good
    • the value of attention to the weakest
    • the value of faith in God, our provident and merciful Father.
  • Reasoning:
    • the ability to understand language and ideas
    • the ability of thinking with one’s own brain, to follow a logic discourse
    • the ability to form judgments based on what they learn and on their values
  • Knowledge:
    • a good basic academic knowledge according to National standards
    • a special attention to preparing persons open to the entire world
  • Skills:
    • real computer literacy
    • at least one foreign language (French).These are, at the moment, our aims, to be implemented gradually and steadily with your help and effort. They are also not comprehensive, especially about knowledge and skills we could add new areas and “specialise” in some areas. But this can be in the future: for the moment, we can stay on a general level. Our tradition requires the use of what we call “preventive system” of education. Long Live Our Country Nigeria! Long live our State Oyo! Long live our School Royal College!
    • Rev. Fr. Basil Egbujor S.c 

      Ibadan.