Recently I’ve been to various present day Nigerian secondary schools, and one thing I found common in almost all of them is their lack of breathing space. To make myself clearer, I’ll like to refer to the school grounds of the old days when proprietors were not misers and were not blinded by the desire to make maximum profit and cared about the comfort of their students enough not to squeeze them in a rat space with primary school pupils. I am very certain that no one will like to study or learn in an environment where you have to battle with what you are studying and the voices of little children. It will be very unconducive to learning.
As a secondary student I had always felt the effect of an enclosed reading space on my brain, it was as though my brain was trying to reach somewhere and the walls around me were caging it. (By the way I wasn’t claustrophobic). Our physics teacher had always advised us to take a walk in an open space whenever we had problems that seemed too difficult to solve, but this advice felt almost impossible to take in the school premises where the school proprietor had made sure to utilize every available space. I do not think that it will hurt a school more than it will benefit its students to have a spacious orchard where students can sit under trees and air their choked brains rather than walk mechanically around dead blocks and inhale bland air.
I’m certain that not all students are very excited about reading in the library; some students do not fancy reciting words to walls, shelves of books and serious looking librarians; most of them just want an environment where studying can be refreshing, where you can raise your eyes from your books and watch a bird till you can shout ‘EUREKA!’ at a sudden apocalypse. But such fantasies can only be possible when the planning of school grounds is not about cramming buildings and students of different levels in a small airless piece of land.
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