Let’s Take A Break From Church Planting: Let’s Plant Schools Instead! By Kingsley Obom-Egbulem


I once read a book tilted “Where There Is No Doctor” by Jane Maxwell and I laughed and taught perhaps the author assumed that communities where there are no doctors( but have enough education to read her book and apply the knowledge in it) are better off.

How about Where There is No School?

That’s catastrophe! Call it human tragedies, if you like.

And we have them all over Nigeria in the 21st century.

That is why early missionaries to Nigeria would remain my heroes and heroines at least for giving us education. Can today’s churches learn a thing or two from their experience and expand access to education for over 11 million kids out of school?

I think we can!

If you have parents, grand parents or even great grand parents who went to school in the 1920s… up to the 1940s, chances are that they went to a missions school. And that’s probably why you are not in Koma Hills today walking about naked and you can use a smartphone instead of taping palm wine, inhaling snuff at 3am or drinking ogogoro while at the fire place and attending to the 3rd son of your 5th wife while his mates are running to school.

The early missionaries to Nigeria were simply phenomenal; angels in human forms who opened our eyes by touching the minds of our forefathers and igniting their hearts with education and knowledge.

Some of us not only have fathers who have doctorate degrees but even grandfathers who went to the university. If you have one, you need to be grateful to the early missionaries. They are partly the reason you escaped poverty. Imagine what would happen tomorrow to the grand children of that six year old kid who is not in school today?

Unfortunately the early missionaries are gone. Gone also is the philosophy that drove them to set up schools for the poor!

So, where are the missionaries of today?

Of course, they are all over the place. But they are contributing in making access to education painful and sometimes unaffordable. They set up Ivy league schools which many church members cannot even afford.

But this is not too bash the church, because indeed many are doing a lot. Unfortunately even with more resources today they have not been able to match what the early missionaries were able to achieve with meager resources.

How can we have the 21st century missions schools? Is there a need for such schools today at least at the primary level targeting communities with no access to quality, basic early childhood education?

In a nut shell, can we have public primary schools run on the same template used by the best of private schools and with funding from concerned church bodies and ministries?

Is there anything the church can do to rescue public primary education in Nigeria? Without putting churches and pastors on the spot (since they are not responsible for the rot in the first place) but I’m wondering if the church can design and run a pilot intervention that could rescue public primary schools from the pit it has fallen into in Nigeria?

Some churches currently spend so much more and resources on CSR and community impact projects to schools. But can these funds be better and more strategically deployed to create sustainable, systemic and replicable interventions that could give a critical mass of poor kids good education instead of books and writing materials?

What do you think?

1)It cost N3.5m to build a block of 4 classroom
2)It cost about N10million to build initial 3 blocks housing two arms of a public nursery and pry school up to primary 1. Additional blocks could be added as the children progress.
3).You need two teachers per class each earning between 30,000 to 50,000 monthly.
4). If you provide a sick bay, ICT room, school bus, library, play ground, TV room, etc (just like you have in your regular private school in the city) it would cost about #20million or less to run this school EFFICIENTLY and with a touch of excellence) annually when it gets to primary 6. This includes an average class size of 25 children and teaching and non teaching staff of 44.

The biggest incentive here is the opportunity to rescue 600 kids out of poverty forever within six or seven years… at the cost of #16million per annum.

Some churches are aleady spending #20million or more on CRS to schools annually without clear indicators for measuring the true value for that money.

In a village where there is no school at all or no public primary school, #20million looks to me like a better way to plant a church.

This is a lamentation on the state of public primary education in Nigeria, a retrospective appraisal of the magic performed by the early missionaries with regards to education and what today’s missionaries can do to rescue early childhood education.

Your perspectives, ideas and solutions are welcome!