From the nineteen sixties to the early nineteen nineties, public secondary schools in Nigeria provided quality boarding facilities for students.Then it was the prerogative of religious groups to do so because they were running the schools.This was owing to the fact that they were the major investors in the sector.
Even at the initial stage,when the government gradually took over and played a more supervisory role on schools, boarding facility was admired, coveted and patronized by parents and guardians.That was when educational standard was noble and high with its products fitting properly into the social stream.They contributed meaningfully to the overall development of the society
There was high level moral discipline, proper teacher co-ordination and government supervisory function on the system. All these streamlined students academic abilities as the officials saddled with boading house activities were well behaved and demonstrated worthy lifestyle.
Students then learned to be more tolerant of the opinions of others in the hostels which was invariably transferred to the larger society.They conducted themselves in a more socially acceptable manner.These eventually patterned their social behaviours when they begin to live adult citizen’s life
However, with the decreasing number of boarding facilities, which became noticeable in the mid nineties,only a shadow of the once cherished boarding houses were left;I dare say the entire school system standard. Students now find it difficult to meet the demand of resuming early for school activities.
In cases where boarding facilities are provided, they are very expensive for children of low income earning parents.This is a far cry from what it was in the sixties and up to the early eighties.
Then boarding facilities were cheap and affordable with no financial discrimination in favour of any particular classs,But this financial divide and the nimpling of the powers of the missionaries of the control of schools pushed it farther away from the generlity of the people.The rational why government took over the control of schools is yet to be justified.
But that was the genesis of the unimaginable downturn.This is not to say that there were no none boarding students who were coming to school from their homes, but there was the glory of boarding that was not undermined.
According to some repondents who lament the situation they said boarding hostels, especially those which do not have religious supervisors,mostly the privately run schools,are not an impressive place to send ones child.The private schools now provide boarding facilities,doing the best to maintain them.But they are still not what they should be.Boarding facility is almost near none existence in government run schools.
There is the fear that it is a breeding ground of anti-social activities; disrespect for elders and authorities,coupled with the poor academic performance exhibited by students.High academic performance is a function of good teaching,dedicated teachers and adequate supervision of students’ academic work.
Whether restoring boarding facilities will repair the emotional,social and academic backwardness of students that has plagued the educational system was the question News Reporter Tamunobarabi Gogo Ibulubo doing a report for http://www.rstv22.tv asked some educationists and parents in Port Harcourt,capital of Rivers State,where the situation is also visible.
According to the Mrs Faith Aham Ochi [principal] and Mrs Gladys Akpanah [proprietor] of The Salvation Heights Nursary/ Primary and Secondary School at Elelenwo,Mrs Sofiri Brown of Government Community Secondary School –UBE-[principal] andMrChristopher Okpamo of Dietams nursary, primary and secondary school said the low moral level of students is not akin to poor hostel facilities alone.
They attributed it to a general fall of standard in the system.The lifestyle manifested by youths is a reflection of the disconnect in the social fabric of the society.
They said at the time when boarding schools were seen as the ultimate place to send students to, there was increased communal life and disciple in the society.They opined that boarding schools then provided an environment where students learned life lessons to adapt to and live an independent citizen’s life as well as tolerating others under a regulated schedule.
They further said that under the regulated time table students are groomed for the best of society life and described the facility as the best.
Parents like Mr Adeniyi Omoniyi,Mrs Babasanmi Ramatt and Mrs Nnedah Amadi said they would prefer their children go to school from their home.They alleged that boarding houses have become breeding grounds for social . Especially so when they are not under the surveillance of a school authority with a christian background and discipline.According to them some parents abandon or give less attention to their children to pursue economic gains.
They said if parents cut down on the amount of time spent pursuing money and invest same in their children, the needed discipline and academic excellence required of their children or wards would be achieved.
They decried the situation where school authorities pamper students by providing personnel to wash their clothes, dishes,clean their toilets and surroundings. These,they said negates the essence of sending students to the boarding house.
If students are made to live as a kings and queens in the hostels ,how could they learn the lessons of appreciating life challenging situations. Such that can confronts people in their social drive to survive.
They argued that most modern boading facilities do not make effort to inculcate in the child the needed emotional balance and disciple to cope in the larger society.
They wondered why most government now can not sustain their boarding facilities.According to these parents, when the child is with them they endeavoured to give him or her the best and required attention for proper growth.