CHALLENGES OF SCHOOL PLANTS IN NIGERIA
Lack of relevant school plants can hinder effective and efficient teachings and learning process. Without an understanding of the purposes of school plants, design and construction will be limited to imitation of past practices. This, in effect, would tend to perpetuate past mistakes for another half century and perhaps longer. The school plant has been regarded too long as merely a “shelterhouse.” Few would argue with the principle that the occupants of school buildings should be sheltered from weather, health and safety hazards. A fundamental purpose of the school plant is obscured, however, when protection is regarded as the sole function. This fundamental purpose is that the school plant must facilitate the educational process. The very existence of the plant is derived from the fact that it is one of the instruments necessary in the execution of an educational program. The protection function gathers even greater significance when viewed in relation to the educational purpose of school plants. This paper discussed the challenges of school plants in Nigeria.
The school plant is the sum total of building, equipment, textbook including the surrounding where teaching and learning takes place. The school plant includes all permanent and semi – permanent structures in the school. School plant can be described to mean the site, building, equipment and all the facilities within the school which enhance the teaching and learning activities and at the same time protects the physical well-being of the teachers and the learners. School plants according to Olagboye (1998) consist of the basic system and structures which a viable school or institutions’ needs in order to function effectively and to fulfill the purpose for which it was established.
However, it has been observed that many schools are now paying more attention to their school plant. School plant which includes all educational facilities has been repeatedly found to have a positive relationship with quality of education. These educational facilities include the site, the buildings, physical equipment, recreational spaces and textbooks used for the achievement of educational objectives (Oluchuckwu 2002).
Odupurokan (2011) states that a well planned school plant will gear up expected outcomes of education, that will facilitate good social, political and economic emancipation; effective teaching and learning and academic performance of students. Therefore it can be said that the school plant is an essential aspect of educational planning because unless schools are well suited, buildings adequately constructed and equipment adequately provided much teaching and learning may not take place. Corroborating these, Mark (2002) and Ajayi (2007) maintained that high levels of students’ academic performance may not be guaranteed where instructional space such as classrooms libraries, technical workshop and labouratories are lacking.
THE CONCEPT OF SCHOOL PLANT
The term school plant includes the site, the building and the equipment. It includes permanent and semi permanent structure as well as items such as machines, laboratory equipment, the blackboard/chalkboard, and the learner and teacher tools. Enaohwo and Eferakeya (1989) defined school plants as the entire physical infrastructural facilities provided in the school for the purpose of educating the child. Ojedele (1998) have a broader view of school plant as including the school site and all the structures that have been put in place to aid effective teaching and learning in the school system. In his own view, Yusuf (2008) defined school plant as the space interpretation of the school curriculum. The curriculum cannot be implemented if the physical facilities required for teaching and learning are not available. Without school plant, the school cannot exist to this end, it becomes necessary to ensure that school plant is properly planned and maintained to facilitate the effectiveness of the school system.
Moreover, school plant refers to all non-consumable and durable physical and infrastructural facilities available in the school for teachers’ and students use in order to make teaching and learning effective and thus ensure the achievement of pre-determined aims and objectives of education hence, the school plant includes the ‘space’ within the school premises which houses the basic systems and structures.
For Yusuf 2008 and Ajayi (2007), school plants comprise the following:
- Machinery: It includes machines and tools used in the workshop, duplicating machines and so on.
- School site: This refers to the entire landscape on which the school’s permanent and semi-permanent structures are built.
- Buildings: These include classroom blocks, administrative offices, libraries, workshops, laboratories, students’ hostels, staff residential quarters, assembly halls, toilets, dining hall and so on.
- Equipment: These consist of typewriters, photocopiers, computers, sporting equipment, laboratory equipment and workshop equipment.
- Furniture: Desks and seats used in the classrooms, office furniture, residential furniture and so on.
- Vehicles of various types and sizes.
- Books textbooks, periodicals and all library books.
- Electrical infrastructure: Air conditioners, electrical fans, generating sets and other electrical fittings.
- Water supply infrastructure: This involves deep wells, boreholes, water tanks and public water.
- Accessories: These include playgrounds, lawns, parks garden and farm.
THE CHALLENGES OF SCHOOL PLANTS IN NIGERIA
In developing countries, the school plant lacks some of these basic system and structures which make teaching and learning process effective, for instance, many secondary schools in Nigeria are yet to install their introductory technology equipment and machines in the workshops almost twenty years after they were supplied by the federal and state governments because they were lack of electricity supply. Other challenges were lack of Introductory Technology workshops, laboratories, functional libraries and portable drinking water supply. In supporting this assertion, Ezeocha (1990 p.150) observed that “while the government is encouraging that the country goes technological education, these schools are not equipped with the necessary infrastructure and materials, for example, the 188.8.131.52 system of education provide that students be taught a number of ethical and vocational subjects. Unfortunately implementation has been a far cry as the problem are compounded by the inability of teachers to involve students in practical works for lack of equipment in the schools.
Even though the teaching and learning conditions for many less developed countries (LDCS) can be described as deplorable, differences still exist in the conditions for the individual countries. In many countries including Nigeria, “it is still common to see classes holding inside uncompleted or dilapidated building and under tree shades and pupils sitting on floors (Agabi 1999 p.226).
In a nutshell, there are several issues confronting effective school plant maintenance in Nigeria School. These include:
- Enrolment explosion leading to excessive pressure on existing school facilities.
- Inadequate fund arising from economic recessions and competitions for funds by other sectors. Consequently, facilities are inadequate to cope with increased enrolment pressure. In addition, inadequate funds have not allowed for proper maintenance of available facilities.
- Inadequate and outright lack of experts (artisans) to handle and repair the ‘modern’ gadgets used in the school system.
- Over centralization of authority and duty: Many of the school heads do not delegate duties to their subordinates, which leads to over centralization in the school system.
- Non-challant attitude of school head, teachers and students to government property. There is overt lack of maintenance culture among Nigerians.
Peter Hezekiah Lawson (Sir Pee). The CEO of Sir Pee Integrated Services and www.libraryguru.com and www.projectvilla.com.ng. A reputable researcher, ICT Instructor and a publisher of many research works in Education.