“A Child Miseducated Is A Child Lost”. That quote is from John F Kennedy. That was exactly how I felt two Sundays ago when my wife, Abimbola Adeyinka asked me to follow her to a public school she was working on. I wasn’t prepared for the shock I was going to experience.
As I drove into Isheri Nursery/Primary School, Bankole Street, Magodo-Isheri, I saw painters at work- one concentrated on the corridor while the other painted two classrooms- Nursery 1 and Nursery 2.
I stepped into one of the Nursery classes and was transfixed on one spot when I saw the desk that the class teacher was using. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I know standards have gone south but how can things be this bad? The table looked like that of a butcher at an abattoir and not one of someone shaping young minds and destinies. For goodness sake, how can anyone expect anything excellent to come from such a teacher or caregiver?
The walls were dirty. The chairs and tables were in poor shape. I looked at the PVC ceiling in the corridor- several pieces were missing with the roof in plain sight and pipes sticking out. Doors were broken. Yet, school was about to resume. How does one nurture great minds in a less-than-excellent environment? What kind of foundation is being laid for their future?
That viral picture of a child with a begging bowl gazing into a car where a more privileged kid sat came to my mind. This public school with 500 kids (105 of them in Nursery) is right in the middle of one of the highbrow areas of Lagos. It’s barely 300m to my wife’s school, Tamar Preparatory School. I got scared. I think we all should be afraid, really. The kids in this school will be raised in that community in less than decent facilities. From a young age, their minds have been conditioned to mediocrity- and there goes the future!
Tamar Preparatory School organized a Spelling Bee contest with the sole aim of getting parents to donate towards the renovation of Nursery 1 and Nursery 2 classes of Isheri Nursery and Primary School. With the support of a few parents who participated, the school proceeded to paint the frontage of an entire block, renovated Nursery 1 and Nursery 2 classrooms, purchased and donated 105 chairs and 16 tables for the pupils in Nursery 1&2, donated 5 tables and chairs for the teachers, fixed the exposed PVC ceiling and replaced 4 damaged doors with brand new ones. It was an entire makeover for Nursery 1 & 2.
After my visit, we sat and discussed an idea. I call it Private School Public School Partnership (PSPSP)- where private schools adopt public schools in their locality and renovate, build libraries and toilets, purchase computers and equip the classrooms among other things under a specified framework. In exchange, the State Government gives some tax rebates or waivers over a period of time. Imagine the revolution in our educational system if this is implemented over 4 years! Whatever will be spent will far exceed the budget for education for the State.
In the meantime, there is so much to do. Look around you. Complaining about the inefficiencies of government has never solved the problem. You too can do something. Buy a chair. Paint a wall. Fix broken tables. You can’t do everything but you can do something. You don’t need a lot of money to reach another person. What you need is a good heart and the will to contribute your own quota. Be part of the solution- and not part of the problem.
Thank you, Tamar Preparatory School, parents and staff who supervised this project. This is your way of showing that you care about your community. Truly, children in public schools also deserve to be taught in an environment where excellence is not compromised.
Tamar PreparatorySchool is at 3, Bayo Adeshina Street, Magodo-Isheri, Lagos. You can follow on Instagram @tamarpreparatory