By Rukayat Moisemhe
Dr Victor Basola, Founder, Kingston Nursery and Primary School, a private school that provides free education in Ogun, has urged governments and spirited individuals to assist the initiative.
This, he said, would ensure continuity of the initiative, aimed at providing free education for out-of-school children in the society.
Basola, an education expert, made the call at a news conference on Wednesday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Basola currently provides free nursery and primary education through his school to about 60 pupils in the Akute-Ajuwon axis of Ogun.
NAN recalls that the Kingston Nursery and Primary School free education initiative kicked off in September 2021.
According to Basola, the free primary education initiative is aimed at providing quality education for children of interest in underserved communities; thereby contributing to socioeconomic development.
He said the vision was borne out of his experience as a child, saying children, no matter where they lived or their circumstances, had the right to quality education.
He noted that while education remained key to personal growth and societal progress, its cost could often, be a significant barrier to assessing knowledge and opportunities.
Basola said in Nigeria, about 10.5 million children aged 5-14 years and about 58.4 million children of the world’s 787 million children of primary school age do not go to school due to poverty.
“Hence, the need for a place like Kingston Nursery and Primary school, an absolutely free school here in Akute, Ogun .
“Free education was introduced to Nigeria by Obafemi Awolowo in Western Nigeria in the year 1955 and it provides opportunities for all individuals regardless of their socio-economic class.
“Although, the vision for starting the school was not to make everything free, we planned to make it subsidised and probably to give out a number of scholarships but two weeks to the inception, we knew God wanted the school to be a free school.
“However, the cost of running such an initiative is about N6 million per term and N18 million monthly, hence the need for support.
“I ensure that our Degree holding teachers are paid a salary of N50,000 which is far above what is obtainable within and around the community.
“This is because we believe that if teachers are well paid, the teaching profession will attract better qualified candidates which will reflect in the quality of students,” he said.
Basola added that the free school initiative included provision of uniforms, text books, and other amenities, including one free meal per day and medical services.
He, however, noted that free education was not free because some people helped to bear the burden in order to make it free for others.
The school founder lauded every one who had partnered to pay for a staff, for a child, or had supported the vision in one way or the other.
He, however, stated that the initiative needed more support to engender more reach and address many challenges faced with running the school.
This, he stated, was important to expand the provision of educational services and keep the vision growing to keep more children in school.
“There will be about 90 per cent increase in number of children in school if there is free education for students. No child is dull if the right educational system is provided.
“Hence the need for organisations to begin to focus on sponsoring education as the bedrock of the future.
“Our nature as Nigerians must begin to tilt toward higher value for education and the country’s reward system must place more value on education,” he said.
Basola charged government, multinationals, religious bodies, elites and corporate organisations to support the initiative and keep the flag flying.
He said that opportunities for partnership existed in finance, sponsorship, meals, stationeries, rent among other needs.
Responding, the Ogun Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Adijat Adeleye, expressed the state’s readiness to support the initiative and enhance children’s growth and development.
Adeleye, represented by her Personal Assistant, Mrs Adebisi Ojo, lent her voice to the call for support to provide quality education for many out of school children in Ogun. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Chioma Ugboma