Visiting Day is the one day in the term that boarding house (or boarding school as it's called in some parts) students look forward to. It is the day when parents, guardians, relatives come to visit their children or wards. Teachers, matrons, school masters and the general boarding school staff usually want the students to appear like they are well taken care of, even if that is far from the truth.
If you've ever been to boarding school in Nigeria, especially if it was in a federal or state government college (private schools were better, generally) then you know the tricks school staff can play just to put up a good front for that very special day.
Specifically, here are some secrets that are revealed on visiting day:
1. The Teacher (or Matron or School Master) has been spending your child's pocket money
Yes, this is true and possibly more common than we might think. Parents (especially those not familiar with the boarding school setting) sometimes leave their children in care of teachers or matrons or school masters or school mistresses (or even seniors) to "take care" of their children.
By "take care," I mean checking up on the child and giving them money for expenses like food, school projects, personal hygiene items, etc. In short, the teacher is the child's trustee.
What ends up happening is that when the parents come visiting, they discover that the teacher has been diverting the funds to his or her personal uses, and the child has just been suffering. Corruption at the school level? You bet!
2. Physical Evidence (Body Marks, Scars) of Bullying and Abuse by Senior Students or Classmates
Bullying is common in secondary schools, and is even considered to be some sort of rite of passage. But, parents usually do not understand the full extent of it, until they come to visit and see strange marks, scars or wounds on their children's bodies. These point to physical abuse by senior students and sometimes by fellow classmates.
Some parents will withdraw their children at that point, while others will blame the child for "causing it" and leave them to fend for themselves.
Different strokes for different folks.
What bothers me is the evidence that parents cannot see, especially in cases in sexual abuse. Where the child does not tell the parent (which happens most of time), it goes unnoticed, even on visiting day.
3. Absentee Parents (i.e. parents who are barely involved in the lives of their children)
It is usually on visiting day that you know that some parents send their children to boarding house to abandon them there. They leave the upbringing of their children to other people. Those students usually have no one to visit them and will hang around other students' parents / families.
Sometimes, parents have genuine reasons for not visiting: travel, business, and sometimes distance (along with the expense of transportation for those who live far away) are factors to consider. However, I believe that in spite of this, parents can and should make time to visit their children in school.
It is different where one parent makes the effort, but where both parents are absent, it's really bad. This can also affect the child's performance in school.
What sorts of interesting things have you observed that happen on visiting day? Please share.
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