An old boy of Ansar-ud-deen College, Isolo, Lagos, Chief Ayodele Fatiregun, has described the high tuition fees charged in many private schools in the country as one of the factors encouraging corrupt practices among Nigerians.
Fatiregun, who is an octogenarian and one of the few surviving pioneering pupils of the institution, said this, in an interview recently during the commissioning of a new hall in the college.
Arguing that the proliferation of private schools in the country had further worsened the incidence of corruption, he said, “This is because the average parent who wants to take his child there will have to cough out a lot of money for tuition. If a school charges between N1m and N2m for tuition, where does a civil servant get the money from? He has to steal to get it.
“Even a lowly-paid driver wants his son to attend a private school. What does he earn in a year and how does he pay the school fees of his children in private schools? So where will the money come from? Some of these parents are stealing to pay their children’s school fees. This is encouraging corruption.”
Going down memory lane, Fatiregun recalled that during his time at Ansaruddeen College secondary education in Nigeria did not only emphasize academic excellence, but it also focused on the dignity of labour.
“It was a lot different from the type of education that we have in the country now. The kind of education, we have in Nigeria at the moment encourages corruption. Unless this is seriously addressed, all the talk about fighting corruption in the country will amount to nothing,” he said.
He also noted that while the high tuition in private schools appeared to have widened the gap between the rich and poor in the society in recent time, discipline had virtually vanished from public schools.
He said, “When we were young, we attended public schools. We attended the same schools with the children of government ministers and other important people. The standard of discipline was the same everywhere. If you misbehaved in one secondary school, you might not be able to gain admission into another secondary school in the country. But, today, children are being pampered in schools.”
Fatiregun said the only way to tackle the challenges facing the education sector is for the Federal Government to develop the public school system.
Describing the quality of education in the country as poor and incapable of producing the ideal citizen, he said, “Nigeria is sinking because the youths of the present generation were not brought up to fight for what is right. So they cannot criticize the government each time it derails nor fight for their fundamental human rights. My generation was different; we were brought up to fight.
“Bear in mind that a good education can only be useful in a structured society, not a disorganized society like ours. Even if you end up getting a Ph.D in the university, you won’t be able to operate successfully in this kind of society.
“You can send your child to the best school in the world and pay N1m per day for his fees, by the time he comes out you will discover that you have over-subsidized his life. There is so much chaos now that I don’t see any future in this country, unless there is a very strong intervention.”