As an expat residing in the UK, I’ve always admired the British Education system. I come from a third-world country where education is not a right but rather a privilege – denied to many because of astute poverty. Growing up, all schooling required payment. Public or private, parents were expected to pay school fees on a termly basis. I was privileged: My parents could afford this ‘luxury’. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for hundreds of thousands of young children. Two years ago, a new ruling+, depicted by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights came into force, stating that Primary Education should be free and compulsory to all. Sadly, it’s thought this obligation still hasn’t been properly fulfilled.
It is because of my upbringing that I feel so passionately about the right to learn. I was almost incredulous when I discovered that education in the UK was free and accessible to all. Not only could every child study, they could do so in a safe and regulated environment. You see, Ofsted doesn’t exist in Africa. Some of our schools don’t even have running water or electricity let alone a regulation carrying out inspections and regulatory visits. Initially, I saw this as almost an overindulgence but after residing here for 7 years I now consider this service a crucial companion to our education system. So, imagine my despair when a recent BBC investigation identified more than 350 suspected unregistered schools++. Schools which had concerns of abuse and neglect as well as dirty and unhygienic conditions. Ofsted can’t regulate these schools because they don’t technically exist. Yet they don’t have the jurisdiction to shut them down. What purpose does Ofsted have if they are unable to rectify these intolerable findings? By not granting them the power to prosecute these schools we are putting students at risk!
It’s time the Department of Education took a long hard look in the mirror and brought stricter action against the proprietors of unregistered schools. We need to drive these isolating, deprived facilities out of our communities and get these pupils the education they deserve. We have ample resources, funding and teaching staff to ensure all children feel safe and cared for within a controlled learning environment. So why is our education system failing the most vulnerable?
How do you feel about theses findings? Do you think organisations like Ofsted should have more power to shut down illegal schools? Post your thoughts below.