Dr Christy Toby of ABEC points to major challenges in private schools business

Could it be true that top private school owners also have challenges? The reality was unveiled in Port Harcourt on Wednesday when the owners of one top school played host to the media as part of their anniversary celebrations. The MD lined up issues that pose challenges and was helped to list them by her husband who is the chairman.
A big-time education investor in the south-south geo-political zone of Nigeria has pointed at the growing appetite for cheating, fraud and examination malpractice as the greatest virus eating deeply into the fabrics of the education sector in Nigeria.
Dr Christy Toby (PhD), educationist and founder of Arch-Deacon Brown (ABEC) group of schools that range from nursery, primary, secondary, day, boarding and inclusive educational schools, told newsmen in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, that most Nigerians these days would hardly trust any transaction that did not take care of fraud in the form of sorting, exam malpractice and cheating.

For this reason, any school that insist on clean dealing and zero-provision for sorting during major exams would scare most parents. She said one of her schools at Iriebe scares other non-WAEC secondary schools from bringing their candidates, just because they were not charged additional fees for ‘exam success’, a parlance for sorting to ensure students passed and passed with high grades.

The school’s insistence on zero-malpractice and zero-payment for sorting has scared away many schools, though she said it has brought good name to the school.

Another challenge ABEC group (Arch-Deacon Brown Educational Centre) is facing is the misconception that high fees alone guaranteed quality. She said most parents have the class-conscious virus that leads to bragging rights. “They want to brag that their children are studying in the highest fee-paying school of about N5m per session. They convince themselves that if the fees were moderate, their offering would never be equal, let alone higher that the highest fee-paying ones”.

Her husband, Sir GTB Toby, helped to mention lack of funds to support the kind of quality offered at ABEC group, saying this was levying burden on the management. Another challenge in the sector is proliferation of schools which she said has led to sub-standard schools that use ways and means to get high grades for students to the admiration of unsuspecting parents.

ABEC, she declared, has produced students that beat their peers in the best universities around the world, including those now in the US Navy due to outstanding performances and those that are now on scholarship in the best universities due to high grades in their first and second degrees. She glorified the name of the lord for ABEC to clock 20 years with outstanding performances.

In a presentation to capture the 20 years so far, the Executive Director of ABEC, Ibim Semenitari, said the core values of the school built on hardwork, integrity, excellence and care for the next person (through giving back mechanism) have propelled the schools to high levels.

He recalled how 47 students posted distinction in Mathematics and how a blind student made As and Bs from SS2 and is now doing well in the university. The ABEC groups is always situated on vast compounds to allow children enough plating space because of the belief that play is part of education for a child.