Choosing a school is a very delicate
issue. One big question on the minds of most parents once their children are
old enough to begin attending school is “What school is appropriate for my
child to attend?” Usually, the comparison is between Public and Private
schools. A host of stereotypical views about these types of schools make the
choice even more difficult.
It should be noted that there is not a
better type of school than the other in the general sense of it as each has an
advantage over the other in one way or another. But then, some factors can be
used to evaluate which would be better suited to you and your child’s needs.
You might just make a better decision when you ignore your preferences and
focus solely on the immediate factors you are looking out for at the given
time. Let us consider some of these:
Class size is one very important
difference between Private and Public schools. Generally, public schools have a
higher population than private schools, which in turn translates to a greater
number of children in the classes of public schools than that of private
schools. In Nigeria, an average classroom in a public school contains 40-50
students/pupils, while that of private schools contains 15-30 on the average.
One benefit of a smaller classroom is that the information delivered by the teacher is more personalised to suit the individual students. This is much easier in a smaller class, so the teacher can tailor each instruction to fit each child. The children also get to contribute more in class and get even more detailed assignments as the teachers do not have too much to grade.
A small class is not always favourable,
however. For instance, there is a greater level of competition in bigger
classes. This usually motivates the learners to be even more serious. Bigger
classes also foster social interactions.
It would seem that public schools have more qualified teachers than private schools. This might be due to the need for public school teachers to have a certain degree before being appointed. While public school teachers always need to be certified, private school teachers often don’t need formal certification. This is not to say that private school teachers are under-qualified. Many are experts in their fields or have masters or even doctoral degrees.
Because private schools
often have selective admissions processes, they can choose highly motivated
students. Many private school students want to learn, and your child will be
surrounded by classmates who regard academic achievement as desirable. For
students who aren’t challenged enough at their current schools, finding a
school full of highly motivated students can be a major improvement in their
This isn’t to say public
school students are not motivated though. Like mentioned earlier, large
classroom sizes for public schools foster competition which can, in turn,
motivate the students academically.
Academics and Activities
Private schools can be more flexible
about the curriculum operated and can offer specialized programs as they do not
follow any particular laws. Parochial schools can offer religion classes, while
special-education schools may provide remedial and counselling programs to help
their students. Private schools also often offer highly advanced programs in
the sciences or arts.
The immersive environment also means
that many private school students attend school for more hours in the day than
do public school students, because private schools offer afterschool programs
and a longer schedule. This means less time to get in trouble and more time to
get involved in activities.
- Increased parental involvement in children’s education, at home and within the school community.
- Class sizes are usually smaller; one-on-one time with students has been proven to improve academic achievement.
- Private schools often have a good reputation in global higher education institutions.
- Excellent extracurricular activities or special programs–e.g., arts, sports, clubs, music.
- Not run by the government, thus more freedom in curriculum design and general governance.
- Larger student populations in public schools may lead to decreased supervision and more bullying issues.
- Public schools may have more bureaucracy, leading to less innovation in program offering, less positive change at the institutional level and decreased parental influence on a child’s educational progress and disciplinary measures.
- Frequently overcrowded schools and classrooms in public schools may decrease a student’s chance of getting extra attention and academic support as needed.
- Cost-effective; public
school is free, paid for by the government.
- Like private schools,
some public schools offer specialized courses or programs–e.g., coding classes,
auto mechanic workshops, etc.
- Public schools don’t
usually require prospective students to undergo entrance interviews or tests to
attend the school, so students may be exposed to a wider range of people.
- Typically, teachers in public
schools must have a bachelor’s
degree as well as some sort of educational certification.
- Public schools are
overseen by the government, as such getting grants and funding for projects
- Top public schools may
have a wide range of resources and cutting-edge equipment.
- Some private schools
may be more selective than public schools and can be stressful to get into.
- Private schools may not
be affordable for some families; the cost of some of them is extremely high.
The choice of public school or private
school must be thought about carefully. Some parents are misguided in believing
that their children will always be better served in private schools and then
run into financial debt trying to cater for the costs. This would only be detrimental.
So consider your financial power, your child’s needs and character, location
and other points before making a choice.