• The debate on whether the best teachers are in the public or private schools has been on for sometime now and is continuing. It is all in a bid to address the problem of continued falling standard of education.

    Kuni Tyessi, in this report for Leadership Newspaper, looks at the issues involved.


    Before now, public or government-owned institutions had prestige. They imparted quality education on their students. Several of our leaders, heads of agencies and captains of industry are products of public schools and therefore testimonies of the quality these institutions were known for. That was before things took a turn for the worse in the education sector and public schools became such a write-off many people would not want to be associated with.

    In the public schools of old, things were done properly and there was order, just as there was sanity. Nothing was left to chance as government paid attention to every detail. The teachers were qualified and gave their students and wards their best. What do we have today? Mediocrity has taken over and the fortune of the country’s education has dropped sharply, leading to mass exodus of students and pupils from these institutions. Quality education is no longer associated with these institutions and government appeared to look the other way as if it connived to kill them.

    An opportunity was created for private schools to take over. Individuals and private bodies went into the business of establishing schools in order to tackle the growth of the teeming population especially in tertiary institutions where research and statistics have revealed that out of over 1.7 million candidates that sit for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), only 530,000 get admitted into universities which is the preferred choice of most candidates.

    In spite of the situation in public schools, many people still hold the view that public schools parade the best teachers with regard to qualification. In term of the prerequisite requirement of the National Certificate of Education (NCE) for qualification as a teacher, the debate actually could go the way of the public schools. Many of the private schools go for unqualified teachers, who though may be university graduates, lack the training to impart positively on the lives of the students. There seems to be a lot of compromise in the private schools which affect the moral and academic standing of the products of these schools.

    A teacher in one of the public schools in Abuja, Emmanuel Badang, who spoke on the issue. He said “public schools are divided into two categories which fall under rural and urban. For example, public schools in the FCT are doing better than private schools. This is because they are always under supervision and constant checks but such is not the case in rural areas.

    “In public schools, you will find better qualified teachers because they must pass through the rudiments of submitting their qualifications which must pass through different bodies. Such is not the case in private schools as research has shown that even teachers with poor teaching qualifications are allowed to teach even SSS3 students. Parents and students hardly know about the qualification of the teachers which is sometimes shrouded in secrecy with the connivance of the schools proprietors. Unity colleges are public schools. How many private school teachers and students can stand up to them? However, you don’t get such in rural areas where supervision is done once in a long while.”

    If the argument tilts more on the side of those who prefer public schools, then why do parents take their children to private schools, thereby giving the impression that public schools are for the less privileged and vice versa?

    A teacher in Dayspring Nursery, Primary and Secondary School, Kaduna, Uloma Okei-Smith expressed the opinion that “public schools whether in cities or villages used to be better than private schools but not anymore. Those who think differently don’t understand the matter. Parents are enlightened these days and will not joke with the education of their children, knowing well that it is power.

    “Why should they take their children to public schools when they are not sure if the syllabus will be completed due to incessant strikes? Look at what is happening in Benue State for example. Education is expensive and whoever says he will give quality education free or nearly free will only cheat the students and parents. For the teachers in public schools, how many of them have their children there?,” she asked.

    Okei-Smith: “If you look at the performance of students in public exams, you will observe that students in private schools perform better than their counterparts in the public schools. Child molestation and brutal punishments take place only in public schools where the teachers believe that the parents or guardians of the students may be too poor to seek redress in court. They hide under the guise of discipline to unleash all kinds of havoc on the students, thereby causing psychological harm in the form of inferiority complex in the students which will in turn affect the output of children put under their care”.

    Responding to the issue at stake, a principal in a public school, Mallam Hashim said “many prefer government jobs because that is where job security is. After a stimulated time, in most cases, 10 years, the teacher who is a civil servant and guided by the civil service rules will be entitled to gratuity and pension. The pension will keep coming for a lifetime until the recipient dies. In essence, there’s so much profit in working with the government. You are also entitled to trainings which will help in the teaching process and this usually comes free.

    “This cannot be said about private schools where sound education is sacrificed on the altar of profit. There is nothing like capacity building programmes or trainings for the teachers and in a case whereby they exist, the teachers will have to pay from their pockets. So where is the experience and added knowledge?,” he asked.

    As the debate continues, parents, teachers and students will continue to be divided and it is hoped that even with the disagreement, a common ground of imparting quality education on the children would be found and adhered to for the benefit of the nation and the citizens.

    What do you think? Join the debate. Drop your comments in the Comment Box below.
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    1 Comment

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    1. Isiaka Idowu Abdullahi 9 years ago

      I am Isiaka Idowu Abdullahi from Kogi State University, Anyigba, 100 level. As regards this topic, it is obvious that public schools are far better than their counterparts (private schools). If we would judge with sincerity and just, we would see that there are many reasons while public schools are more preferable to private schools most especially in secondary school education. Public schools have qualified and sophisticated teachers. In public schools, you would never find an ordinary level holder teaching the students or the pupils, this is the order of the day in private schools especially those ones in the rural areas where they would always be looking for ordinary holders who would teach and get paid for monthly salary of N5000. In most private secondary schools, their science students are always at the risk of inability to perform practicals in WAEC and NECO because of the lack of apparatus in their laboratories and some of the private schools do not even have laboratories. In the case of those private schools whose students are not well thought and are deprived of their rights to carry out experiments, this does not stop them from passing external examinations owing to what is popularly known as examination practice. Examination malpractice is most practised in private schools due to the non-inspecting of the schools by external bodies during examinations. It is in private schools that you see what is tagged ‘miracle centre’. Has anyone ever seen a miracle centre in any of the public schools? It is in private schools that you do not appear for an examination and you would pass it. Students in private schools are less disciplined compared to the student in public schools. For instance, an ordinary level student holder teaching ss3 students. Which type of discipline do you expect him/her to instill in those students? It is very unwise to say that private schools are better than public schools. I believe if the government pays the monthly salaries of teachers in public schools, the issue of strike would be overcome and the teachers would be very to impact knowledge in the students. By doing this, the rate at which public schools are better than private schools would be higher and their would be no doubting betterment.

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