• Saturday, February 24, 2024
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Why new government should tackle health, safety-environment in schools

The moral foundation of education

It is a proven fact that education is an essential tool for the eradication of ignorance and poverty in any country, Nigeria inclusive.

It is the process through which people are taught better ways of doing something or living, hence, education encompasses any form of learning which transforms and adds value to a person’s life which in turn leads to his benefit and the society at large.

However, in Nigeria this goal is hindered by many factors, such as poor learning environment, and lack of security needed for conducive learning especially at the basic cadres.

Without any iota of doubts, improving the educational system in the country is a challenge currently facing Nigeria today.

As Nigeria awaits the swearing in of new governments, many stakeholders in the education sector have expressed their desire that special attention be paid to the health, safety and secured learning environment especially at the primary and secondary school levels.

They argue that the new government should put in place a new management approach for safety and health in order to curb incidents of school burning, abduction of students and teachers, as well as sporadic shooting during school hours.

Many parents and guardians lament the failure of past governments to uphold the rights of children in this regard bearing in mind that health and safety in schools is a fundamental human right of every child; hence every child needs to be protected by the authorities.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)report in 2022, since December 2020, 11,536 schools in Nigeria have been closed due to abductions and security concerns.

The UN children’s agency said 1,436 school children and 17 teachers were abducted from schools, and 16 school children lost their lives.

Indeed, Nigeria can no longer afford to treat issues of health and safety in Nigerian schools with levity. This is because the country and the world in general is witnessing numerous winds of change that are dynamically affecting school service delivery.

From population explosion to unprecedented climatic change and terrorism, undue pressure is mounted on educational resources, amidst defined infrastructural deficits.

Many parents and guardians these days usually consider many kinds of factors when deciding which schools to enroll their children or wards.

Some of these are the quality of the instruction, availability of facilities, and track record in external examinations, among others.

Be that as it may, some parents and guardians do not ask questions about health and safety management in schools before enrolling their wards.

According to Taiwo Folorunsho, an expert in health and safety environment matters, “Accidents can happen anywhere and schools are not an exception. There is a great need for a robust system for managing health and safety in schools.
Besides, schools need to do the needful to prevent unnecessary harm to children under their care. And the issues of health safety protection should be extended even to the public to secure the lives of many Nigerian children in public schools as well.”

Friday Erhabor, director of media and strategy at Marklenez Limited emphasised the need to ensure there is adequate security in place before parents make their choice of a school for their children and wards.

“The first thing to look out for is security. Is this school safe and secured? Second priority is the school calendar. Security and adherence to the school calendar are non-negotiable,” he said.
Joy Akpovoko, a mother said; “As a mother of girl-children, the first thing I look out for is to know how hygienic the school environment is for my children.

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Does the school have a good toilet system, and then, the buildings around them. I try to avoid schools with residential buildings too close to it and lastly, the school must be fenced round with a major entrance gate,” she said.
Isaac Ojo Ogboadayegbe, a safety and risk expert is worried that a greater risk is involved in the combined low risk perception of children and of the adults around them who act as teachers and caregivers.

“While the low risk perception of children is understandable, not the same can be said of the adults who act as their teachers, school administrators and care-givers.

The combined low risk perception of children and of the adults around them is a greater disaster waiting to happen. This creates a high level of risk, albeit risk that can be and should be managed,” Ogboadayegbe noted.

The concept of safety in school, calls to mind a need for an environment where all who play one role or the other, be it students, teachers, non-teaching staff, and/or visitors to the school, are secured and kept away from danger that could be caused by man, animal or nature.

Fundamentally, providing students with a healthy and safe learning environment where they could be protected from physical and emotional harm is foundational to the undertakings of schools.

A United States of America department of education publication describes a safe school as not just a place of learning equipped with advanced security procedures, but as such a place that has what it takes to help students develop assets that allow them succeed even in difficult circumstances.

And this should be the main concern of the country’s policy makers and implementers as it concerns education or else the country would be in a wild-ghost-chase education-wise.

Experts believe that environmental conditions determine individual destinies and improve the lot of the individuals, hence, any education reformer should start with reconstructing the environment to benefit the individual student.
This is so because if a school’s state of health is adjudged good, but it is located in an insecure environment, such school would be considered wanting in its operational requirement.

And this situation is capable of reducing the public rating of such schools, thereby severely reducing the attendant patronage.

It is really worrisome and frustrating that the government could not adequately regulate both private and public schools in ensuring sanity, safety and conducive learning environment.
This failure of the government is giving well-meaning Nigerians sleepless nights bearing in mind that this is a subtle way of destroying the future of the country.

And if the future of these children is to be salvaged, then the need to look inward schools is a strong imperative of everyone including the government agencies and ministry irrespective of political differences.
The question is, how will the new government create the needed environment in the country’s various basic schools to favour these individuals, bearing in mind that components of the environment or facilities in the environment make up the environment?

To get the best out of the schools, the government should ensure that the social and physical learning environment is responsive to students’ needs by enabling their experiences and bringing about realistic expectations.
That is to say that the quality of teaching and learning should be enhanced by such an environment, and as well ensure the safety of learners and teachers, as a learner friendly environment is a proven approach to promote effective and efficient teaching for optimal learning.

Physical academic needs are met through provision of safe structure, adequate sanitary facilities, a balanced visual environment, appropriate thermal environment and sufficient shelter space, while emotional academic needs are met by creating pleasant surroundings.

This can best be achieved by effective implementation of government policies on health, safety and environment for both private and public schools, and efficient monitoring teams to ensure the goals are attained.