Grace Essen: Ambitious school proprietors risking lives of pupils

Grace Essen: Ambitious school proprietors risking lives of pupils

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 11:25 am


Grace Essen

Grace Essen

Grace Essen

With the failure of government to provide quality education for her citizens, we have over the years seen the emergence of private schools at all levels. Of particular interest is the nursery and primary school which we have in all manner of structures even in what you would consider a poultry farm! You wonder what kind of learning goes on in such an environment.

School business is now an all-comers-affair, if you can afford the required fee for approval, you are in business whether you have the capacity to provide conducive learning environment or not. I am aware there is supposed to be an inspection of the proposed school premises before approval, but from what we see one would wonder if that is still the case.

Once the school is open, the proprietors begin to look for ways to make extra cash – the classrooms and playgrounds (if there are any) are rented out for parties, church services and all manner of events during the weekend, in addition to numerous ways of making money off parents.

One of such private school proprietors in the quest to add another stream of income to her school business has brought about untold hardship to one of her pupils and his family. She decided to add soap making into her line of business, not minding the hazards she chose to have the soap making production right beside the classrooms.

Sometime last year, it was announced during a Parent-Teacher Association meeting at the school that soap-making would commence in the school premises. But how could anyone have imagined that what seemed not to be a bad idea would result in what can be described as a nightmare for the family of one of the pupils.

On November 19 2015, the unexpected happened. A three-year old boy, Darasimi was thirsty and asked his class teacher for drinking water, but his teacher ignored his request. The boy then found a bowl containing caustic soda already mixed and left lying around, he thought it was water and he fetched some and drank. It was when the boy was found outside his classroom crying and bleeding from the mouth that the teachers realized what had happened.

Based on findings, caustic soda, which is also referred to as sodium hydroxide or lye is an acid that breaks down tissues faster than many other chemical. Caustic substances cause tissue destruction through liquefaction or coagulation reactions. Experts say complications from drinking caustic soda include esophagitis (inflammation of the oesophagus), esophageal stenosis (a narrowing of the lumen of the oesophagus that slows or impedes the passage of fluid and foods) and progression to cancer, fistulas, perforations, stomach lesions, brain abscesses, and death.

A three-year old boy, Darasimi was thirsty and asked his class teacher for drinking water, but his teacher ignored his request. The boy then found a bowl containing caustic soda already mixed and left lying around, he thought it was water and he fetched some and drank. It was when the boy was found outside his classroom crying and bleeding from the mouth that the teachers realized what had happened.

At the hospital doctors found that the liquid had destroyed Darasimi’s throat and stomach. He is being fed through a tube on his hospital bed, reduced to a sack of bones and cannot even drink water. Right now, doctors have said Darasimi would require another round of surgery for the repair of his throat and stomach which cumulatively would cost about N2.5m.

Even more painful is the fact that when the incident occurred nobody from the school made any attempt to call his parents until a boy arrived from school and told the mother that something had happened to Darasimi and that he had been taken to the hospital.

Just last week, I heard a lot of noise coming from a private school very close to my house, the noise was quite disturbing I had to ask what was going on. I was told a borehole was being drilled in the school. But what I couldn’t imagine was how the drilling of borehole could go on while children were in class and lessons were going on!

The very same school has a nursery, primary, college and also a crèche, all in one story building (that is no longer strange). When they found they were pressed for space they decided to create an extra class by adding a block in the little space left at the back of the building. This construction went on while school was in session, with children around. The lodging of gravel and sand in the already very tight compound caused a lot of inconvenience for the children but the school management didn’t bother.

Talking about school environment, one would expect that schools should have reasonable space for children to play and have their sports activities. But these days when private schools can operate in one bedroom apartment, private schools do not have any space for sports activities. One school decided to take their sports to the street! And while that was going on, a child just about two years plus was said to have fallen down and hit his head on the interlocking stones lying by the road side. Also it was his older sibling who reported the incident to the mum.

Government can do more than just carry out initial inspection and give approvals. Activities of private school owners should be closely monitored. No mother wants her child to become a victim of the school proprietor’s selfish ambitions. May God protect our children.

What’s your thought?

You may reach Grace via email: gracessen@gmail.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @GraceEssen, on Facebook, and also follow her blog @Mum2MumAfrica.com.


Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.