Mushroom Schools Dot Rivers …As Panel Outlaws 437

Despite efforts of the Rivers State government to regulate private schools including the setting up of a panel to assess their suitability to give quality education to Rivers children, mushroom primary and secondary schools still litter the nooks and crannies of the state.

The panel headed by Prof. Ozo Mekuri-Ndimele said out of a total of 2511 schools that applied for accreditation, 1415 were approved, 659 got interim accreditation, while 437 were denied approval.

Our correspondent who visited various communities in the state reports that the over 400 schools denied operational approval pale into insignificance compared to the number of mushroom private schools in operation particularly in the rural areas.

At Rumnawhara, close to fifteen such private schools, some operating from make-shift buildings were seen. Some of them in uncompleted buildings, had a few desks and benches hurriedly put together by itinerant capenters, but claim to run nursery, primary and secondary education.

At Rumuokwurusi, many mushroom schools operate in remote areas with beautiful, painted walls and creative artistic works outside but inside were filled with “garbage”.

Rumunduru, Emeka, Oginigba, Runuodara, Rumuola, Rumuodomaya, Rukpokwu, Onyibo and many other communities in the state harbour a good number of these decrepit private schools.

Our reporter was able to get access to these schools (name withheld), because he pretended to be seeking admission for his wards.

When he spoke to some of the managers, it was discovered that their motive for setting up the schools was profit and not quality education they could offer to the pupils.

A retired educationist, Mrs. Eugenia Nwaokolo who spoke to our correspondent at Igwuruta, said Rivers State government had taken long in sanitizing education in the state.

She disclosed that Igwuruta harbours the largest number of mushroom schools in the state and urged government to move to the area and regulate what, she called, “the mess”.

She said in her own time primary school was the bedrock of education where young people were adequately prepared for Cambridge or what is today called secondary school. She is dismayed that some people have turned preparatory schools into a kind of buying and selling of goods.

“And you people are asking why the standard of education has fallen. You see the reasons in the decrepit schools, half-baked teachers and absence of supervision. In our time we had supervisors of education who come to schools two times in a month to appraise performances.

We don’t have them anymore. School heads, teachers come to school anytime they like, some come and abandon classrooms and go for their private businesses, while some do not come at all for days. How can pupils learn under these conditions, she asked?”

The retired educationist said if government wants to restore total sanity in education, it should overhaul all aspect of education, including half-baked schools and teachers, decayed infrastructure and institutional rot and requested for the restoration of school supervisors who would go to the schools regularly to monitor standards.

However, if government want far-reading sanity in the education system, it should go beyond the closure of 437 schools and fish out other mushroom private schools that still dot the state.

Parents have also been asking where pupils displaced from the closed schools would be absorbed, considering the dearth of public schools in the state. Some of them told correspondent that government need to put this into consideration before closing down schools.

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