By Amaechi Agbo
The Federal Government has been advised to close down private schools without sporting facilities.
The advice was given by the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Municipal branch, Abuja, chairman, Comrade Umar Makusidi.
Com Makusidi who handed the advice in an interview with our correspondent, bemoaned lack of sporting facilities especially football field among private schools.
He also called on the education management boards not to grant approvals to private schools that do not have enough space for sporting activities stressing that sports are a key component of a child’s growth.
Comrade Makusidi who spoke on the back of dwindling sporting activities across all levels of education in the primary and secondary schools, commended the government for doing its best in facilitating sports development in the FCT, reiterated that inter-house sports completion still holds in public schools.
“Sport is part of school activities which is very important. It is as important as classroom activities. Any child that grows without physical activities may not grow very well. The child will lack a lot of things in life.
“Lack of sporting activities or field is most prevalent in private schools because many of them do not pay attention to sporting facilities generally. They don’t have enough space for their staff to park their vehicles and other activities.
“Formerly we have a department called Department of Policy Implementation, DPI in the FCT which was in charge of accreditating private schools and even the public schools.
“One of the criteria before a school is accredited is that there must be a lot of facilities in place. One of them is school field. If there is no field in the school, it does not qualify to exist. The DPI, now called Department of Quality Assurance, needs to do more in that aspect. Most of the private schools, even the standard ones that collect thousands of naira per term, don’t have school field which is not very germane for our pupils and students.
“But in terms of public schools, the government is trying in that aspect. You hardly see a public school without field. They have sporting equipment but government van do more to improve them. It is based on lack of facilities that it appears that sports are dying in our schools.
“This month, we had our grassroots sports programme for the junior students – the Grassroots Athletics Championship 2017. It held from 9-12 October. The purpose was to create awareness, encourage, discover and train hidden talents from the grassroots.
“NUT is making a serious impact in our schools not to abandon sporting activities. These activities have a lot of advantages; they help in physical growth of the child. They keep the child busy all the time. After school activities, the child can go for sport. An idle mind, they say, is a devil’s workshop. When a child closes from school by 2pm and has nothing to do than to go home and watch films of join bad groups.
“But if we impact the knowledge of sports in them, after school activities, they can go and engage in sports and it will keep them busy throughout the day because once they are done with sports, they would go home, bath and sleep. This is why we took it upon ourselves to initiate the competition.
“Already, we have programmed the competition to hold every year. For instance, the last one was organised for only Junior Secondary Students although in the closing ceremony, we invited some senior schools to participate. But in 2018, God willing, we will be organising it for the Senior Secondary Schools. Then we may invite either primary or junior secondary to be part of the closing ceremony.
“Right now we are making it an annual competition. We will be holding it every year in collaboration with the Athletics Federation if Nigeria, AFN. They have booked us for 9 – 12 of October next year. AFN has promised us that the national stadium will be released for the programme. They also assured us that they will make it part of their yearly calendar. I believe that they are working towards that.
“And what this means is that by the same time next year, by God’s grace, you will find us there with another edition of the competition.
“As I said earlier, the FCT government is doing their best, they are trying. In so many of our schools now we have sporting activities. In every school annually, we use to have inter-house sports competition most especially in junior and senior secondary in the FCT and the primary schools are coming up.
“Inter-house sport is part of our action plan each year. Any inspector going to any school, the first thing the person will request from the school authority is the action plan. In the action plan, the sporting activities must be reflected.
“The private schools should take Physical Education very serious for every child. I equally advise the Department of Quality Assurance to take their time and check all the private schools that do not have fields for sporting activities to do so or they should close down the schools,” the NUT boss, who is also the Head teacher of LEA Primary School, Jabi, concluded.