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.

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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).

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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.

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  1. To some of us that attended day school, they instilled disciplined in us. The truth is that excesses of the day school are corrected in boarding schools while those of boarding schools are corrected in the day schools. The bond among boarders not withstanding. If parents will also take responsibility concerning their wards, day schools will just be ok. As the writer said ” the school instills discipline while parents instills morals”.

  2. I love this article. It took me way back to FGC Ugwolawo Kogi state. My experience there was a bittersweet experience. It had its up and downs but I still thank God I went to boarding school. It really taught me how to live on my own and survive on almost nothing. That school really was brutal but I smile anytime I think back and remember the experience. I saw hell there o! But I am alive aren’t I?
    I thank God o. I still would prefer boarding coz it really made me know how to deal with the different manners of people and how to manage them.. See enh my children must go to boarding school o. That’s where the vices are and that is where the children learn to fight the vices and manage their independence

    1. Thanks a lot Mr. Paul. Your thought almost got me scared of boarding schools, but that’s the power of words. Am glad you like the write-up and I appreciate your comment. I hope I would see more of you in my writing space.

  3. Very Good! This piece brings back beautiful memories of boarding school. Many advantages, not perfect though. But clearly, Day schools provide weak alumni groups.
    Congrats again!

    1. I love the way the comments are coming in. The variety is beautifying. Well noted sir “Day schools provide weak alumni groups”. Thank you so much Doc. God bless you sir.

      Keep them coming people.

  4. Nice write-up! I was smiling as I read through. You just reminded me some forgotten lifestyle in the then boarding arrangements. I attended the now FTSC; the school had provisions for both day and boarding students, it was fun being a day school student. Lots of crazy stories always told that happened in school boarding premises. I feel because of the bloom of youth an adolescent would think he or she is missing out when such stories are told but it’s not true. Adolescents would always prefer to be in boarding arrangements because of the so called freedom or independent lifestyle and to excercise the feeling like – let me do my things my own way which in most cases have resulted in regrets and lots of ill-decision making.

    To me the answer to your question is No – day school is never an impediment. At any time I’d recommend day school for my child.

  5. It’s sadly a mindset problem. However, boarding school graduates naturally have deeper bonds and common memories due to the nature of its community. The Day School leavers should not envy them, it’s useless and only brings inferiority attitudes. I was in the Boarding school, but many times I wished I attended Day school. So simply,rep where u left from, it’s fair that way.

    1. This thought of yours has opened my eyes to see this issue from another perspective. Wow, on the other hand, I attended a Day school and will choose it over again. Well said! The takeaway is “Rep. where you finished from”, Boarding and Day schools alike and no room for inferiority feelings. I appreciate you El Basil.

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