An educationist, Mrs Ann Oparah, on Friday said that the private schools now contributed more than 60 per cent of the annual national budget to develop the critical sector.
Oparah, Proprietor of the Brilliant Academy, Agege, Lagos, made the revelation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the school’s Prize Giving Day and end of session party.
The seasoned educational administrator said that the future of education now rested on the outputs from the private schools which were now more viable and giving out more good results.
“In private schools, we strive to make parents happy because the onus rests on us to deliver the very best of qualitative education, not that we want to satisfy them alone, but to justify our fees.
“In private school, we must give it all when it comes to quality not 90 but 110 per cent.
“For us as private investors in education, we now contribute more than 60 per cent of what government is giving. This is a statement of fact which is verifiable; it is true that education is expensive.
“In private schools, we spend a lot in training and re-training of teachers, but rather than encourage us, the government often over-burdens us with heavy taxes,’’ Oparah said.
She also disclosed that government could only help the private investors in education with tax incentives and reduction in other levies.
“The taxes on private schools is a burden and this is not encouraging at all, this is making things difficult for the private school owners.
“It is much of a belief that private schools are for business and profiteering alone, these assumptions are bad because education is a critical sector that we cannot afford to fully commercialise.
“Government should understand that there are more things to take care of in education more than the taxes government is expecting from us can be channeled to something more worthwhile.
“In terms of welfare, we need to have a standard practice whereby teachers will be entitled to retirement benefits across board, this will serve as motivation than burden,’’ she said.
Oparah said the results from the external examinations show lots of difference between the quality of education that reside in public and private schools.
“The results from the external examinations such as West African Examination Council (WAEC), Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), National Examination Council (NECO) are testimonies of fact between public and private schools.
“More students from private schools come out strong and better in these examinations which are verifiable from the examination bodies.
“The private schools have higher percentage of passes more than their public counterparts. In my school, I make sure that all the matters in the syllabus are treated.
“There is no room for laxity in private schools even in terms of investment, we don’t mind being indebted just to see that things are well marshalled as far as qualitative education is concerned,’’ she said.
Oparah, a product of the University of Lagos, said that private schools now invest heavily in laboratories, scientific training and entrepreneurial studies because it was the future of education.
“Private schools now invest heavily in laboratories for practical because that is the future of our students; we want them to excel in the sciences.
“We also invest in entrepreneurial studies because we want our students to be well rounded in education so that they will be independent and engage in more critical thinking.
“At Brilliant Academy, we have Entrepreneurial Department for our students and the workshop is well equipped. For fashion design, we have more than 10 sowing machines.
“Also for the carpentry workshop, we have equipment so also the mechanical and others,’’ she said.
NAN reports that 26 students of the Academy graduated from the Cambridge Syllabus, while 59 graduated from Nigerian Syllabus. (NAN)