Home Schooling: Escape routes for Nigerian parents


IN the days of yore, formal education was only available to the elite of the society. However, prior to this time, before the introduction of compulsory school attendance law, child education most especially in some countries was impacted by family or community.
People were of the belief that it takes the whole community to raise a child and not by going to school. Home schooling is also known as home education. This is the education of children inside the home, done by a tutor or parent(s) instead of a formal conventional public or private school.

Home schooling is common in many foreign countries, countries like the United Kingdom, United States, Chile, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico etc. However, it is outlawed in most European countries and in countries like Sweden, Germany. Other countries like Nigeria do not really state it in its constitution if this practice is illegal or not as the practice is not clearly stated. Home schooling is more rampant these days.

This has been associated to the bad economic situation of the whole country. It seems parents are going back to the homeschooling era due to the economic situation in the country. School parents are beginning to lament as a result of the exorbitant school fee payment due September, home schooling now seems like an escape route.

Children who have been home schooled are known to do well, they are prided to be independent reliable learners and even employees. Many scholars and academicians have debated on the advantages and disadvantages of home schooling. Some are of the opinion that home schooling is usually motivated by factors such as: school environment, quality of academic instruction, curriculum, economic constraints, lack of faith in schools etc.

Home schooling is also an option for families that live in isolated areas. People who move to sites where there are no schools or are very far away usually choose to home school.

Also, families who move from one place to the other more often than not choose to home school too. Home schooling is sometimes used as a supplemental education most times they are called home teachers here in Nigeria or even lesson teachers. They help children to learn under specific circumstances. It could also be a parent acting as the lesson teacher.

Children are sometimes home schooled because of health problems. Some parents are of the belief that home schooling is the best for children under the ages of 8-12. According to them, formal education may harm children academically, mentally or even physiologically.

At school (formal education) problems such as juvenile delinquency, near sightedness, behavioral problems, external influence, peer pressure, punctured self-esteem, unhealthy competition, drug, sex, bullying are the attached vices to formal education.

Some parents are of the opinion that when home schooling is involved they determine the when, how and what. They also determine the learning speed based on the child’s capability. Some children function better in the afternoon rather than in the morning, homeschooling gives room for them to learn faster than in the conventional morning school. Learning speed and assimilations are known by the parent. There are no school rooms, no home work (too much homework). The tutor or parent determines when the pupil goes on vacation. Home schooling also fosters closer family relationship. The parent also inculcates the right moral or religious value they want in their children.

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Nevertheless, children who are home schooled are believed to be usually isolated from the outside world making some of them socially handicapped. Also, there is the belief that homeschooling is very time consuming especially preparing for the lessons if they are more than 1 pupil. There are limited resources in terms of labs and materials at home as opposed to school. It is also believed that home schooling does not give a child the ability to adapt to real life situation, when they are older.

Mr. Odese is a teacher who started tutoring his child when she was just three months old starting with bible stories and audio visuals. Afterwards, they progressed to how to read and write. He swears she competes with her other mates who attend formal schools.

Odese confessed that home schooling has not been an easy task but that it is definitely worth it. He claims that home schooling gives the opportunity to inculcate the right values as opposed to formal education which peer pressure and other vices may affect the child.

He also says that his daughter is confident and expresses herself freely because she knows it her father that is tutoring her. He claims it is also very economical; he does not need to think about school fees and other things attached to enrolling a child in a school.

However, he cites the only disadvantage of home schooling as the child not being able to mix up with her peers. He claims she moves and mixes with children in the environment instead and at church services. He also claims that she has access to communication at a close range. Mr. Odese says he has been badly criticized by neighbours but he still believes that home schooling is more rewarding. He also says that he thanks this type of education should be formally recognized in Nigeria.

Another Nigerian Maria Eke also spoke on the idea of home schooling. According to her, she was home schooled when she was young for health reasons. She stated “I was in primary two, when my parents couldn’t cope with having me going back and forth from the hospital and so they stopped me from going to school.” Her mom was a teacher by profession. It was through this that she sat for her common entrance examinations which she passed; though she does not have a first school leaving certificate which she told her employers. She has decided to home school her children too. She believes that home schooling is the best especially for primary school children till they are more mature and can express themselves. She says when she is at work her mind is at rest because she knows are children are at home and they are safe as opposed to cases she hears of school cleaners turn teachers who ends up impacting the wrong knowledge to the children.

According to her, she got her children a home tutor until they are old enough to tell her when someone molest or manhandles them. The result has been wonderful.

She also talks about the pressure she faces from both family and friends to enroll her children in school but she feels she is protecting them till they can protect themselves.

She believes that they’re a lot of unqualified teachers in Nigeria and that’s her greatest fear. According to her, some of these teachers cannot even express themselves in simple English not to talk of them teaching children. Many of these teachers are teaching because there are no other jobs.

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The dean of the faculty of education of one of the top federal universities in Nigeria also shared his opinion of home schooling. According to this professor, home schooling might not be easy to practice in Nigeria like it is practiced in some developed countries. He believes that a child cannot learn in isolation rather she will learn more if she is in the midst of her peers. Being in the midst of people will also help know the character of a child. He also says that homeschooling does not guarantee that what the home tutor or guardian is teaching the child is the right thing.

He however states that the only thing good about homeschooling is the fact that it is whatever traits the parent wants the child to have is what he or she will have. He believes that if the child later goes back to a formal school he or she might not be able to cope in high school.

He also believes that home schooling might not be the best because all technical and proper instruments needed are only be available in a school setting.

According to him, it might be cheap to get a tutor rather than take the child to school but how sure are the parents of the tutor? Do they know the kind of person the tutor is? He states “children are been abused all the time with various cases of nannies and house helps molesting children reported daily. So, won’t it be safer to put the child in a school or a general setting, where these risks are reduced?