The Challenge of Effective Students Hostel Management

Participants at the 2019 Africa Great Principals Academy requested that we should start a special training for Students Hostel Officers/ Managers. Immediately, we conducted one-on-one in-depth interviews and focus group discussions to understand the issues at stake. Surprisingly, most of the award-winning schools lacked trained student hostels officers at the time. Most of the private school owners were not satisfied with the conduct and performances of their hostel managers. There were issues of integrity, loyalty to their employers, and commitment to duty. Hence, except for public schools, the private school owners were not ready to train their hostel managers. The focus was on the termination of available officers and replacement with a new set of hostel officers. The 2019 effective students hostel management was quite successful, the Vitafoam Mattress subsidized attendance by her mattress customers.

There is an upsurge in demand for hostel services by parents of recent; due to quite a number of reasons: a) Better academic performance of boarding house students versus day students. b) Skyrocketing cost of living, necessitating both parents (mother and father) to work late hours to provide for their children. c) Rising wave of insecurity in Nigeria, in a dimension never seen before; we have kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, etc. The demand for hostel services is rising at a geometrical rate than the available bed spaces and manpower in both the public and private schools can cope with. Most schools are not able to price appropriately to support quality feeding and services to boarding house students. Boarding fees in most government-owned model / special schools were set years ago; when a 50kg bag of rice was #5, 000 versus today’s #25, 000. Where boarding fees have been adjusted, they are not reflective of current market rates. We continue to have cases of stronger students taking advantage of weaker students for provisions, and store officers molesting not well-fed students. It is instructive that the daily feeding rate of prisoners has been increased from #400 per prisoner to # 1, 000 per prisoner.

The negative consequences of not charging market reflective rates for quality feeding, quality care, and services for students hostel managers are enormous for every school brand. In the last 12 months, over 750 students have been kidnapped from Schools in Nigeria, and four notable school brands are feeling a great heat that will determine the future of the brands. Schools need money to beef up security, install CCTV in hostels, establish/maintain quality students’ health centers, and retainership with reputable health care providers. The current high ratio of Hostel Officers to students is not supportive of quality services. If schools are not charging adequately for good feeding and care of students, then they will lack money for the highly needed training & retraining of their hostel officers. If school owners are to protect their school brands from hostile takeover or unexpected liquidation; then, there must be a deliberate effort to hire, train and retrain the best hands as students hostels officers/ managers. The yearly effective students’ hostel managers workshop of the African Principals Conference Initiatives is highly recommended for every school in Africa. We are already receiving nominations for the 2022 workshops in Abuja and Lagos centers respectively. We also accept invitations for in-house workshops. Just contact us at [email protected].

Every School owner and worker must understand the increasing awareness and interest of the government for effective child safeguarding and protection in the schools. There is always a deliberate effort for the government to be on the side of the students. Available laws are being updated to ensure every offender is brought to book without delay. The Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBP) Act of 2015 expanded the definition of rape, sexual harassment, and violence. Offenders are liable to 12 years imprisonment. Sex with underage is regarded as rape.
Sexual molestation of a child in a school is automatic dismissal from service.

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