If you’re a Nigerian, especially born and bred here, this is our lifestyle. Secondary school education in Nigeria, apart from being among the foundation given to any child, is also the preparatory stage which equips the child for admittance into the tertiary institution for more knowledge in a particular chosen field. Admitted, a house that is built on a weak foundation is bound to collapse.
Managements and boards of both private and public secondary schools in Nigeria put into consideration so many relevant and necessary factors before taking a decision of whether the school will operate as a “day school” or a “boarding school”. Proximity is one of them. Level of engagement and monitoring, distraction reduction, keeping the parents aware and informed of their children’s daily performance, instilling independence and school’s established standards/excellence are others. Thus, we have day schools and boarding schools.
Before we continue, let’s have this basic fact at the back of our minds: “Proper upbringing is the parents’ obligation, while discipline is for the schools to enforce”. Inescapably, there will be a huge gap once a party leaves its responsibility for the other.
That said, “day schools” are schools whose students attend their classes from home and return home each day after lectures, while “boarding schools” are schools which provide accommodation and other related facilities for the habitation of the students; they can be visited on stipulated visitation days and periods and can only go home during mid-term and long breaks. In the same vein, students who attend these schools are called “day students” and “boarding students/boarders” respectively. Though there are secondary schools which decide to run both the day and boarding systems concurrently. I, for one, attended a day secondary school and don’t regret that, though, some friends of mine who were boarders keep filling and tickling my ears with moonlight tales of assured meals fit for Princes and Princesses. In the good old days, balanced meals were served almost straight out of the best home economics textbooks! Bread, Butter (hence the nick-name AJE BUTTER) and eggs in the morning; Eba, vegetable soup and fish in the afternoon; Rice, plantain and beef in the evenings, and even chicken, ice-cream and peanuts on Sundays. Not anymore! (Topic for discussion some other time).
You remember our “Unity Schools”, right? The FGGCs and FGCs. What is very shocking to note and almost impossible to come to terms with is the extent of squalor (at least in terms of physical infrastructure and amenities) to which these schools have been plunged. Most of them date as far back as 1973, being in existence for more than 4 decades now.
Now, if the two (2) options are graciously placed on the table for you to pick, which would you go for – A Day School or A Boarding School? Before you do, let’s analyze some basic concepts, differences, comparisons, advantages and disadvantages. In most cases, boarders and parents of boarders prefer the boarding system when the school is located far from home, thereby reducing the frequency of having their children on the road, as well as cost. Secondly, the level of engagement (‘prep’ time as it’s called, dining time, compulsory sleeping/nap time et al) and monitoring are definitely higher at boarding schools, except for ‘very strict’ parents who ensure those at home for their day-students children. Your eyes can never be on your children every 24/7. You might be unaware of some of their activities at home, like: watching movies, playing games, phone chatting and video calling, even outings, all contribute to distractions at home which alternatively, can be curbed at boarding schools. Parents of boarders are not aware of their children’s activities and level of educational growth and development, as they do not get to see them daily. That for me, is a bad side of boarding schools. Fifthly, by virtue of boarding schools, the idea of instilling independence is highly commended. It’s not as if the day school system does not have advantages, it does. There is much lesser cost implication here, compared to the boarding system – the 3 times daily feeding with non-optional diet, accommodation/bed space, house wears, mattresses and beddings, provisions and the rest. Lastly, some people entertain the belief that boarding schools help shape the values of and enforce discipline in children, in terms of punishments, more than the day schools. But I say irrespective of the type of school – day and boarding alike, same could be achieved. I have pointed out some other shortcomings of boarding schools to be: inability of girls to cook because they left home at a tender age and are in school till they are in their late teens, no motherly closeness and unavailability of instantaneous parental advice/motherly affection and corruption by means of tipping security men to allow them out of the school premises, worse still, jumping over the fence to escape and indulge in awful acts. Again, boarders have the opportunity to be trained in and practice adequate home keeping and involvement in household chores, unlike some day students whose pampering parents order their house helps to do everything. So, as a parent, you need to consider a whole lot of things before making the best and wisest choice for your children. Do your checks and balances wisely and appropriately. Anyway, it’s not easy to be a parent.
In all, the “boarding school system” creates room for close interaction, co-habitation, intimacy and bond amongst boarders, which they remember throughout their life time. Striking experiences and memories linger till forever. Does this then imply that day schools are impediments to the formation and co-operation of vibrant alumni bodies? On a personal note, I have witnessed scenarios where graduates from day schools ‘form’ when they run into one another, claiming not to recognize their former classmates’ faces, even do not help out when the power is in their very own hands. On the contrary, I have seen graduates of boarding schools keep their friendship alive, make their bond stronger, even host meetings, organize outings, form a strong alumni body and use their connection to help their younger ones to get job positions. A typical example on display is FGC, Idoani. Truly, I envy them.
Back to the question I asked earlier, I wouldn’t give a reply yet till you give yours. What’s your opinion? Back it up with reasons too. Let’s dialogue.