Deep Thought with Othman
As a corollary to my article of last week, readers may recall the question I posed; how do we contribute to preventing the detonation of the imminent “time bomb”, which may consume all of us?
Youth and children are the most vulnerable part of society. Children are like a cleaned whiteboard; whatever is ascribed on it appears; good or bad. There are so many writers on this blackboard; parents, teachers, peer group, environment, society, and above all destiny.
As responsible parents, it is our moral responsibility and parental obligation, within the societal constraints and abilities to see that the right lessons using correct procedures are taught to our children. We must be mindful of and keenly interested in what our children are doing at all times, whom they are associated with, and how they spend their active and leisure times periodically.
Naturally, as parents, we love our children but the parents of today have no limit to the kind of love they have for their children. We over-pamper them. Instead of showing them that hard work, dedication and discipline lead to success in life, we go the extra mile to “purchase” success for them by bribing teachers to give them good grades and excellent NECO/WAEC results.
Nowadays, I am no longer being impressed when I see 6-9 credits of NECO/WAEC scored by our youth until I am convinced of how he/she obtained such a result. The situation is getting worse, as parents come to our campuses to “lobby” for their children to pass exams instead of advising them to work hard. School disciplines of yonder years have disappeared; the boarding school system is becoming an outcast.
Recently, I saw a boy profusely crying because his mother threatened to send him to boarding school for an offence he committed. The excessive vigour with which we over spoil our children is becoming unbecoming. It is common to see an active and healthy graduate who could not secure a white-colour job hanging on to his retired parents for upkeeps from buying bathroom soap to airtime credits, what a shame.
In the 1970s and 1980s, there was no serious class segregation of our children as some of us, children of the commoners attended the same public primary and secondary schools with children of the emirs and other high ranking personalities.
Today, the children of the elites go to expensive private schools within or outside the country. Thus, they are denied opportunities to mingle with the children of the commoners and understand the problems of society. Yet, these are the children who are being prepared to take over the country’s governance from their elitist parents.
The next stakeholder is government. It is an important and key stakeholder in the good upbringing of youth and children. The government regulates, formulates, and implements policies on education and health alongside other complementary sectors for sound human capacity development.
As earlier discussed, the government is found grossly wanting in the discharge of these responsibilities. Our public hospitals are mere consulting clinics and at best, serve those who can afford to pay for the services. Our public primary and secondary schools are turned into playgrounds and avenues for passing the time of underprivileged children. Who will want to take his child to LEA or GSS today, even though, 30 or so years ago we passed through the same schools with flying colours? This is how bad the situation has gone. With the possible exception of higher institutions of learning, our educational system is wholly corrupted, dysfunctional, and rotten; incapable of meeting our national goal and aspiration. However, there is relative sanity in the university system, thanks to doggedness and unrelenting ASUU’s struggle against bastardizing the system.
Few children of the elites are attending first-class schools across the globe paid with funds acquired through aggrandizement. The majority of the children are attending the LEA/GSS or roaming the streets with a hopelessly empty future.
Recently, Daily Trust (https://t.co/A93wReqcsS?ssr=true) reported the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education “applauding” government for making the number of out-of-school children dropping from 12 million to 10.3 million. This number does not include the number of children attending LEA/GSS. This situation is getting out of control. The combined effects of poor parental upbringing, pitiable health service delivery, and a shaky educational system leave our children at the mercy of unruly society. This is where we are today, the sky is cloudy with uncertainty, an imminent threat is hovering over our heads and society is pregnant. So, what do we do to prevent the time bomb from detonating?
First, we must understand that when a time bomb is detonated, all the people and properties within the environment will be consumed by the inferno. There will be no hiding place for both the elites and the commoners. Already, there are signs of the calamitous event; steadily deteriorating of social security, banditry, insurgency, and kidnapping are all preparatory stride towards bomb detonation.
Second, the Nigerian leadership must wake up from slumber and reverse the ugly trend by heavily investing in the education and health sectors. Nigeria should allocate 20% and 10% of the annual budget to the education and health sectors. There should be a legislated policy to make it compulsory for all children of public office holders and high-ranking civil servants to attend public schools from primary to tertiary level.
This will make the policymakers take a serious look at our educational sector. There is a need to review our educational curriculum at all levels of our educational system. Germane issues on problem-solving strategies, innovations, and jobs creation and nationalism, culture among others should be incorporated in the renewed curriculum.
The educational system should be tailored to fast-track societal development for an agrarian nation with geometric population increase and diverse nationalities. This way Nigerians can be sure of a bright future with the potential of leading the world. May it happen quickly.
Prof Othman writes from NAERLS, ABU Zaria and can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.