September 28, 2022

It is almost becoming clear as the School Census is ongoing that the process will be challenged by the School calendar and the pending closure of Schools across the country. The Minister of Basic Primary and Secondary Education and other officials of the ministry have emphasized on radio and other fora on the significance of the School Census towards the sustainability of the Free and Quality Education scheme in the country.This is largely because, statistics obtained from the census according to them would be very critical for planning and the eventual kick off of the project by government.

Many believe the government of President Bio is in a mad rush to kick start the scheme subsequently leaving out issues which should have been properly addressed before the commencement of the scheme in September 2018.The holistic census is expected to capture available data on all government, community, private and mission Schools including teacher and pupil ratio, learning facilities etc.

An initial assessment of the survey so far has discovered that both Secondary and Primary Schools pupils in most schools the enumerators have visited so far are empty as pupils have gone home immediately after taking their final exams. Even though some of the enumerators and their Deputy Directors of Education have managed to get the examinations of some of these schools delayed so that pupils will be present in their respective Schools where enumerators will count them and obtain relevant data, this has not worked out well especially in some villages and other remote areas.

Realizing the challenge that the timing of the School calendar has posed to the census, some enumerators  have connived with School Heads to obtain figures of pupils from their respective class/form registers. It is very clear that this will provide false figures of the total number of pupils attending school in the country.This by any means will be an advantage to heads of schools and  further pose a challenge to government  in terms of planning as they will be confronted with ghost pupils as has been the case before.

A school authority who spoke to this medium stated that government should have phased out the different components of the scheme so that they would be in a greater position to handle the respective challenges as they rear up their heads.

School authorities and parents in the country have also criticized the government plans to run a remedial School program in August this year which they hope to use to compensate pupils moving from SS 2 to SS 3. They have noted that the one month period which is usually characterized by heavy down pour of rains in the country is largely inadequate to cover syllabus that is usually covered in three months.