Maryam Hamza Ph.D
The Nigeria Police may not be getting it right, because in reality Nigeria happened to the force, but I can authoritatively state that with the Police Schools at both primary and secondary levels, they got that right and are still trying to make it better. I decided to write this piece because, when I mentioned in a previous post that I attended Police Children Schools for my primary education till I finished. Someone commented that her children attended Police Children School in Akwa Ibom state and how good the school was. They school topped in all competitions they got invited to.
This I can attest to and quite relate to. I went to Police Children Schools Yola, Maiduguri and finally Ikeja Lagos.
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I also was a teacher at Police Children School Main, Kaduna for six years before I secured a lecturing Job at the NDA.
All Police Children Schools (71) and Police Secondary Schools (16) of them are being managed by the Force Education Unit. Apart from the corporate social responsibility of the force to society, the aim of the schools is provision of education services to children of both serving and retired personnel as well as general populace.
One thing that may strike you is that about all Police schools have same architectural structure with huge spacious classrooms conducive for learning. The excellence you see is replicated in many of these Police schools.
I would use police children Main Kaduna, as a case study.
Forget that most of the children who attend the school are from the barracks where they are mostly located, almost all the teachers teaching them are professionally trained. Meaning that that they possess various teachers’ certificates. Many others keep upgrading themselves. Without that teaching certificate, securing a job in one of the schools can be most difficult.
I remember when after nine years of graduating from the university without a job, my parent thought it wise I got a job there. Before I got the job, I was almost nonchalant about securing a paid job. I don’t think I have written up to five application letters seeking employment my entire life. This is because, there was never a time I wasn’t busy doing one small business or the other (story for another day). The only attempt ever made for a job was when someone approached me with a teaching job offer in the Kaduna state government. I was to pay #40,000 before the job and another #40,000 after I got my letter of appointment which I declined because I didn’t have such an amount at the time.
Anyway, when the issue of application came up, my father made me go back to school to get a certificate to qualify me to teach. He refused to use his influence as senior ranking police officer to get me the teaching job without the certificate till I got one. A year and half after, I got the job having gone through a post graduate diploma course at the National Teachers’ Institute, Kaduna.
In the years I spent in PCS Main Kaduna, it was a learning process. I learnt to teach on the job and after some time, I just knew that my calling was in teaching.
One thing that struck me about the school was the quality of leadership the headteacher Alhaji Idris Salisu Danmusa exhibited at the time assisted by Mrs Mary Dabson and Mrs Hannatu Mutuwa. He was the true definition of a leader. He never allowed any room for laziness. He routinely went on class rounds almost every day or his assistants did. He had zero tolerance for late coming in both teachers and pupils. Lesson notes must be updated, submitted and marked weekly. The teachers themselves gave in their best and operate as one big family. It was just awesome. This quality of leadership is something I have heard of from different headteachers of different Police Children schools across the nations.
In almost all the classrooms, there were not more than 25- 28 pupils at a time. Every subject had a teacher to teach it, not what we see in many private schools where a teacher teaches almost all subjects.
Let me shock you, in almost all police schools, there are three teachers who collectively teach English; grammar, phonics, composition and comprehension, apart from teacher for verbal reasoning. For mathematics, there was always two teachers for general mathematics and mental mathematics. The children always got the best out of the teaching.
The teaching does not stop there, when it comes to extra curricula activities, the children are mandated to belong to different recreational clubs where they sharpen their skills and talents. They have a live band that plays while the national anthem is sung every morning, guess who plays the instrument? The pupils of themselves!!!
Have you encountered pupils from police children’s schools during interhouse sports and march past? Hmm…it is a sight to behold. Their crisp and starchy khaki is the always the delight of the events.
For a public school, the standard is way above average. I have witnessed severally how the children excelled in almost all competitions they went for. Forget that the children are mostly from the barracks, their street wiseness plus the quality of education they get makes them stand out always. And guess what, the school fees of all Police Children Schools is still just four thousand naira (N4000). Nothing more, nothing less except of course the books one has to buy. During my time it was just N40 (forty naira) till I finished.
The schools are not all perfect, just a little more funding, attention and reforms to fit into 21st century education will make the schools outstanding. I urge the government to give more focus and attention to public schools. These are the heartbeat of education in Nigeria.
I am always proud of what I got from there and super proud of what I was able to give back to the schools that laid the foundation for my education.
To the teachers there, know that you are doing something right and the world is watching. Kudos to you all.
Maryam Hamza Ph.D Dept of History and War Studies Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna email@example.com