Boarding schools in Nigeria have always been a matter of mixed opinions. Some have claimed that boarding schools prepared them to be an adult as they were away from parental cuddling or pampering. Many others have said attending boarding schools laid the foundation for trauma and undisclosed mental issues they battle with, due to the stress and pressure placed on them to survive alone at such a young age.
Why boarding schools, though? Why do some people prefer boarding schools to day schools? How much trauma and scars are people getting because they didn’t have their parents to talk to at the end of every day? No doubt, there are good things about boarding schools, but for the most part, there are wrong, ugly, and downright messy things too.
But first, let’s define what boarding schools are.
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What are Boarding Schools?
Boarding schools are like your regular schools but with built-in facilities for students to live in without having to go back home at the end of every school day. This arrangement make it easier for parents to take a break from parenting for the duration of the school term for an extra fee.
Many schools in different locations provide boarding facilities so students from all over the country can attend. The federal government of Nigeria also has federal government colleges in almost all states designed to be boarding houses for students and teachers.
The Good: Preparing Young Students for a Life of Independence
Being in a boarding school means not having unbridled access to your parents like you usually would. The closest figure you had to your parents to talk to more often was either your guardian, who is usually a teacher or a school parent. A school parent is either a male or female senior student, usually in their second or third senior secondary school year. These people serve as your money keeper and protector from bullies or harassment from people bigger than you.
Usually, this meant you were safe from suffering, and you didn’t squander your money on time. As good as this sounds, you are still alone most of the time because school parents will go for their classes and teachers have to do their jobs.
Unlike your parents, whose first jobs are being parents, these people are doing it at a cost, where your parents thank them for looking out for you. You have to learn to stand on your own, figure out things yourself, and protect your belongings all by yourself.
It is survival of the fittest for most of these schools, and it feels like the real world where man’s priority is to survive first before every other thing. Children in boarding schools often hesitate to talk to their parents, especially when they feel emotional or overwhelmed. This leads to strained relationships because there is no foundation for emotional connection.
However, this also helps the children develop tough skin to any form of emotional blackmail or abuse. Whether or not this is an entirely good thing is hard to say. Many have, however, said that this helped them a lot with surviving in the world.
The Bad and The Messy: Bullying, Trauma and Damaged Souls
The most critical years of a man’s life are his/her teenage years. So much moulding and manipulation can occur, and this causes a lasting effect. It is, therefore, sad and distressing to see that Nigerian boarding schools, for most people who go there, are a place of trauma and suffering for them. Instances of this effect can come from but are not limited to;
- The loss of personal belongings from your locker or wardrobe leading to paranoia.
- Bullying by seniors and classmates leading to fear and low self-esteem.
- Harassment from the same or opposite sex leads to withdrawal and depression.
- Body shaming and objectification leading to body dysmorphia and injured body confidence.
- Sexual harassment leading to damaged physique and mental trauma.
The list goes on and on, making it nearly impossible to talk about all of the bad effects of being in boarding schools. Many children who left home happy at the ages of 11-13 often graduate secondary boarding schools withdrawn, resentful and more rebellious than they would be if they had the guidance of their parents all through.
It makes one wonder who started the assumption that going to a boarding school softens a stubborn child and toughens a weak child. Being without the supervision of those who care about you the most i.e your parents can expose you to danger that can be fatal. Many families have felt the burn of the risks that come with putting their children through boarding schools.
The Extremely Ugly: Deaths, Burials and Irreparable Damages
In Nigeria alone, there are over 6 million cases of bullying every year, and a lot of them have made headlines over the years. There have also been cases of deaths and physical and mental trauma resulting from bullying, sexual harassment and physical abuse. Below are some of the issues that have sent Nigerians into an outrage over the years:
- Sylvester Oromoni: The young student reportedly died of multiple internal injuries after fellow students beat him for refusing to join a cult in Dowen College, Lagos, on November 30 2021.
- Karen-Happuch Akpagher: 14-year-old Karen was sexually assaulted at Premiere Academy, Abuja and was found with a condom in her private part on June 22, 2021. The culprit is yet to be apprehended.
- Don Davis: An 11-year-old student of Deeper Life High School, Uyo, was physically and sexually assaulted by his male seniors. According to his mother, the seniors would push their legs and hands into his anus. It was also reported that the school authority starved Davis because of bedwetting.
These cases and more have deterred many parents from taking their children to boarding schools, but these schools still exist. Precautions should be taken to safeguard boarding school students.
Some useful suggestions include thoroughly vetting the teaching and non-teaching staff of the school, providing a functioning guidance and counselling forum for students to speak up when they need help, and taking cries for help seriously because no danger is too little to be ignored.
Did you have any experiences in boarding school? Let us know in the comment section, or even better, join our Whatsapp community to be a part of us. Also, subscribe to our newsletter for more valuable tips on how to navigate life as a Nigerian Student.
Edited by Oluwanifemi Akintomide.
- Student of Philosophy||Writer||Baker|| Content Writer|| Student Journalist|| Video Creative. I love books, anime, and games.
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