Against the developmental problems believed to be affecting the process of educating the Nigerian child in the rural areas, parents and educators are of the view that rather than allow children brought from such areas to suffer in the cities, they should be restored psychologically in a conducive, loving environment and make them start school at the basic education level. Funmi Ogundare reports
It is not uncommon to see children between the ages of 8 and 13 years being brought from the rural areas to serve as house-helps in the homes of their madams or aunties, as they are taken from their parents or guardians to the city with a promise of a quality education.
However, by the time they get to the city, rather than send these children to school, they are being made to hawk various wares, man shops or work very hard in the house from morning till night thereby dashing their hopes of going to school.
One of such children is Chibuzo Okoye, 10, (not real name), unfortunately became an orphan at a tender age and brought from the village to help his aunt who has a one-year old boy, in Lagos.
Okoye had already completed primary four in the village, but by the time he got to Lagos, his aunt, Mrs. Cynthia Amadi (not real name) tried to home school him, but he could neither cope academically nor spell his name.
As a result, he was flogged severally by his ‘madam’ and her husband for being a dullard.
Rather than waste their money sending Okoye to school, he was made to man Mrs. Amadi’s shop , do all the house chores and also take care of the baby.
Bringing children in Amadi’s shoes from the rural areas, may not pose a problem, but more challenging is the fact that those areas in Nigeria are characterized by series of under-developmental problems such as poor basic health facilities, good road networks, portable drinking water, high illiteracy level and prevalence of extreme poverty, among others.
With this in mind, some concerned parents and educators who spoke to THISDAY, opined that rather than flog and overwork the poor lad, he should be relocated to a more conducive, loving environment to restore him psychologically and that they should make him start school at the basic education level.
Already, the Lagos State government Child Rights law stipulates that every child has a right to education, healthcare, love and social security which stands as a strong pivot on which its children development programme rests.
Under the Amendment and implementation of the Child rights Law, 2015, children are fully protected and those who infringe on those rights are apprehended and prosecuted.
According to Olaitan Nurudeen Onifade, “ The poor kid is a slow learner of no fault of his, Mr. Amadi is being abusive, no doubt. If the kid can’t learn academically, perhaps enroll him in a technical school. His guardians should both be empathetic and loving . What’s ever happened to sense of humanity these days for goodness sake?
Mr. Tokunbo Oworu said flogging him is not appropriate.
“ As an orphan from a village, one does not need a prophet to know he would have been through a lot of stress and his nutrition very poor. The combination of poor nutrition and stress would most likely have led to an underdeveloped brain; specifically a shrunken hippotalamus.
“The best they can do for him, if they truly are passionate about his success in life, is to get a really good multivitamin like centrum for kids to address his nutritional deficiencies. They should also feed him healthily so that his brain can regrow. He should get enough sleep too. A private lesson teacher can tutor him in the basics of reading and writing.”
Adedoyin Oduntan said such children need counseling on the importance of education.
“Encouragement is key so that he can also make it. However, primary four in the village is not primary four in the city. He needs to go to a lower class and move up from there. With prayers, he will adjust and be where God has ordained for him.”
Gbenga Adedoyin believes it is a foundational problem and he should either be taken back to primary two or a good lesson teacher be gotten for him at home.
“To do the work, teachers may not have required patience. I believe with effective work on the boy, he will improve to join the regular school system. He should not be flogged again, NAPTIP will not take it lightly, ”he said.
Bolanle Sekoni said, “Child abuse already in place in this matter. To get something good out of the poor child, he should be relocated to a more conducive, loving environment to restore him psychologically before anything else, if anyone is sincere with the plan to give him sound formal education for an assured better tomorrow.”
In her submission, Florence Adeogun Odunlami argued that, “ If you really want to help the situation, start from the beginning. It needs a lot of patience. I brought a girl from the village at the point of writing WAEC. All she could do was write her name. Register her in KG class, it was very tasking, but it paid off afterwards. Flogging? He will simply go back to his shell.”
Justus Oriola Olawole affirmed that they are not helping the poor boy by flogging him and that there is a huge gap between education in the urban area and that of the rural area.
“One cannot compare the education in the rural area with the urban area. The boy will eventually catch up if you can teach him in a friendly manner while beating him will make him to fear the more.”
According to Vicky Okem, “It is a problem of poor foundation. They should home school him as he cannot meet up formal school activities for his age. The lesson teacher should be patient and empathetic. He should start from the foundations of literacy and numeracy. That boy may wow them some day.”
Chidinma Nebonta Ikechukwu-Edeh recalled her experience with a 14-year old girl that stayed with her saying, “she can do all the chores in the house and even add many more with joy and happiness, but once you mention education or ask her what she learnt in school, she will be so cold and start crying. She is in JS one but can not pronounce the word ‘what’.
“When she brought home her last term result she scored 90 and 95 in subjects she couldn’t pronounce , scored 98 in French and she doesn’t even know an alphabet in French. I was shocked when I saw her result. Don’t know what some schools do these days!
In her submission, Mary Ogbeche said, “Take him back to primary one. Let him know that in your house there’s no place for dropouts. Obviously he doesn’t like to learn because he can’t cope in the class. Village standard these days is so low that a school certificate holder can’t read. Please don’t mind his age, once he’s groomed in that class he can then jump a class till he gets the basics. You will be glad you did.”
Kelechi Michelle Onyekwuru affirmed that, “The fact is they don’t teach them anything in the villages, especially in the east. They should stop flogging him, it will do no good. they should let him start from the basics; kindergarten. I have one in my house she’s been with me over one year and she just learned A to Z and she can write one to 100 now, but can only count one to 50.
“She’s in KG two and does home lesson with my daughter in KG three. It’s hard to teach her and assimilation rate is low. she’s 13 years old. It’s not their fault, but where they find themselves. I feel, given the right opportunity, they will excel.”
In her contribution, Folake Oso said, “Flogging the boy is not the answer. He is still a young boy and as a matter of fact the change of environment may be a big factor. He may need a personal tutor he can open up to. The educational foundation is faulty and flogging him is not the answer it may rather dampen his willingness to learn, and taking a 10- year old as an helper in the house is not ideal. He is too young for that.”
Elizabeth Ohaka noted that no one learns in an atmosphere of cruelty and that learning should be linked to positive emotions.
“He has refused to learn because he has linked learning to unpleasant outcomes.
Change your style, introduce play, games and activities, shower him with love and encouragement and watch him blossom.”
Taiwo Oluwapamilerin Akinlade also recalled his own experience with a 10- year old boy that was brought from the village earlier this year saying, “Then he couldn’t speak one word of English. I didn’t enroll him in school immediately, I just introduced him to crayons and colouring for a whole month in his free time and got him excited about school.
Now he speaks English well and is in the process of blending five letter words on his own. He can even read simple sentences now. So it’s really about drawing out a plan for him and getting him excited about school.”
Sowunmi Ejehi asked, “ But, why do they think that the boy doesn’t want to learn? And will flogging enable the child give what he does not have? He does not know it, simple. And if they are teaching and he does not seem to understand it; then the method used to teach should be looked into and changed.
“ I suggest they find out the exact level of the boy’s education and start from there. And if it means starting from the scratch, so be it. Home schooling is a good option. Unnecessary sentiments or transferred aggression will not help but hurt the boy, neither will the harsh approach to the child.”
Olamide Onikoro Adeshoye posited that, “Please stop beating him, the boy is just a victim of his own circumstances. Flogging him will give him psychological issues with learning. You should know that products of village school can hardly read or write. He needs private tutoring and should be placed in a class based on a proper assessment of his abilities, not the class from the village.”