Revealed: Lagos school where teachers demand food, airtime for good results

Until they finished narrating their different experiences, one would not easily imagine what these teenagers, who are pupils of St. Joseph Secondary School in Mangoro, Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos, had gone through in the hands of some of their teachers.

They looked good in their school uniform, but beyond the good looks, they had deep reservations about their school, which had made it somewhat a not-so-interesting experience for them.

In a chat with Punch on Thursday, the pupils indicted some of their teachers, saying apart from the obvious favouritism in the school and raining of abuse on them and their parents, they are also confronted with several illegal demands from their teachers.

One of the pupils, 14-year-old Esther, who pleaded that her real name be withheld, alleged that their English and Literature subject teacher was fond of demanding for money from them.

She explained that they were to do a project and bring it to school. But according to her, the teacher told them to pay N500 instead of doing the project. She noted that some pupils who paid it eventually got good scores, while those of them who didn’t pay had to contend with lower scores.

Perhaps, the act would have gone unnoticed and even fester some more, until Esther got home and asked her guardian for the N500 to be given to the teacher.

She said, “When I got home and I asked my guardian for the money, he was angry and he condemned the act. The following day, he sent my sister to follow me to school. On getting there, the teacher changed the story and told my sister that it wasn’t true, and that he only wanted to help us.

“When my sister left, he called me and scolded me for going to report him at home. Another pupil also threatened to report him to her dad if he didn’t return the money she already paid. He promised to return the money. We later found out that he gave more marks to those who paid the money.”

Another female pupil, who preferred to be called Josephine, also alleged that one of their teachers was fond of taking their food from them, which would put those who oblige him in his good books. “We found that he gives good marks to such people and those he knows,” she added.

Buttressing Josephine’s allegations, another pupil who introduced herself as Janet, added that one of their teachers once demanded sausage roll from her and that the teacher told her that failure to buy it would make her lose two marks.

She said, “In that subject, I saw 48, which I felt didn’t commensurate with what I expected, so I went to meet him. He said I submitted my maths note late and that I should go and bring it. He gave me two marks while he gave others in my shoes 10.

“The next time he saw me, he said I should buy him sausage roll and that if I didn’t, he would remove the two marks he gave me earlier so my score would revert to 48.”

Asked if she bought it for him, she said, “I gave him the sausage and he ate it.”

While some like Janet obliged and moved on, 15-year-old Rita (not real name) recalled that she was punished by the same teacher for refusing to buy him food.

She explained, “Sometime ago, the teacher said I should buy food for him, and when I refused, he told me to kneel down and he flogged me. I even wanted to report to the authorities, but usually they take sides with the teachers so I didn’t bother.

“He is still fond of asking students to buy food for him. Some people do, while some don’t. If you do, you are in his good books, and if you don’t you are on your own. The Economics and maths teachers are fond of doing that.”

According to these pupils, the demands are independent of the way the teachers abuse them and even their parents.

Rita said, “In our class, they give preferential treatment to science students, as if commercial students are non-existent. Why should that be when we pay the same fees? Some of them abuse our parents. Some would tell us they are older than our parents at home.

“They would tell us that our parents are wasting money on us. The maths teacher is fond of doing that. Sometimes when we complain to the authorities, they take sides with the teachers so we are not encouraged to do it. Sometimes, the two VPs tell us why we should stop complaining or reporting our teachers. So, that is discouraging.”

She recalled an incident when a female teacher abused them and an outsider who had come to teach them. She said, “During the first week of resumption, our male students had a football match with another school. Someone from outside came to coach our students.

“Later when the coach was interacting with some of the students, a teacher came and told a male student he was stupid for standing outside. So, the coach felt that was a wrong word in such an environment. That was how the teacher started abusing the coach. She told him he’s useless and that since she was talking to her student, she could talk to him anyhow. She even went to take cane and threatened to flog the coach.

“We are used to words like, ‘you are stupid; you are mad’ but it was strange to that man. That is the way some of them talk to us as if we are slaves.”

As if that was not all, they also alleged that the favouritism exhibited by some of the teachers was alarming, making some of them feel unwanted.

Janet said, “There was a time we went to a teacher to check our scores. While looking through the register, he saw the score of a child of one of the teachers in the school, and he changed it from 4/20 to 14/20, saying “this boy cannot get 4/20.

“There is favouritism, because the same teacher could afford to give some of us zero as punishment for late submission which many others are guilty of, and some would still get good scores. Sometimes, what we see in our script is different from what we see in our result sheets.

“For some of us, the scores could decrease while they could increase for some. Some are given preferential treatment while some of us are not. These certainly would not make anybody happy.

“There are also some teachers who demand for airtime, and it could be as low as N200. They have asked some of us, even when they know we don’t earn salaries. Anyway, some were able to give them while some could not. What we can deduce is that if you are able to part with money or some teachers know you, you would pass very well and we know this is not good.”

When our correspondent visited the school to verify the claims of the pupils, the Vice Principal, Admin, who introduced himself as Mr. Precious, said he was surprised with the allegations made by the students, noting that if the claims were true, the pupils should have come to his office to report.

When confronted with some of the issues, the VP however said it was wrong for any teacher to take money from any pupil for project, noting that such erring teachers would have been disciplined if he heard such complaints.

He added, “It’s in the curriculum that pupils would have project for the year. And parents are the ones to pay for it because it is not part of the school fees. They are to do the project from home and bring it to school, because the essence is for them to learn.

“The teacher is not the one to do the project for them. It is wrong, but like I said, I have not heard of such complaints. There are disciplinary measures for any misconduct in the school.

“The doors of my office are open to them, and they know they can always come in to make complaints. They could have done that. If we find out such a thing happened, the affected teachers must be dealt with and the money must be refunded. Our teachers know the rules. We will investigate the issues raised and take action on them.”