We’ve Forgotten Our Children!

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Saturday COUNTERPOINT

By  Femi Akintunde-Johnson

If you love to complain or criticise, come to Nigeria… or perchance you originate in this great country with such grumpy tendencies, you will have a hundred lifetime of issues, situations, incidents and countless ruckuses to provoke and agitate your senses. In one week, you will have a Ganduje bloody fight-back in Kano supplementary election…the legal and political yo-yo in Bauchi…the acrobatics and semantics of crucifying citizen Walter Onnoghen by the denizens of anti-corruption crusade… the blood-letting wizardry of Wike-Amaechi and ‘benediction’ of ultra-politicking rocking Rivers State…and the list goes on.

 Yet, in this and many other things Nigeriana, wisdom counsels caution and circumspection. The roiling of aggressive contestation of political, legal and economic power blocs may lure some patriots to intervene and interrogate surrounding tissues of civil affairs…but, we have learnt overtime that Nigerians are past masters of dissembling, and dramatic sabre-rattling which often ends in powdery hollowness. The more you see, the less you really know.

 It may be convenient for some to quote Wole Soyinka’s piquant stimulant, “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny”… and then run headlong into raging controversies, pontificating on this side or that, of contemporary controversies… only to have a chip of dried dung smacking stubborn heads weeks after. Many a critics had been reduced to quisling drivel after encountering the duplicity and shameless make-belief of Nigerian public affairs management and managers.

 So, I have elected to step back from issues political and quasi-political, while soaking in the luxuriating engagements of restless and rampaging commentators, who are in a hurry to document the undulating “histories” of our nation-building exertions. May their roads be rough, as the inimitable Tai Solarin would have noted.

 Permit me to pull at a subject close to my heart…the future of our children. With the levity governments in Nigeria have been dealing and toying with education (at all levels) it is urgent that parents take very serious steps to help their children and ward grow and flourish in a manner that will give them some edge competing in a digital and smart world. Our political rulers are neither digital nor smart – what with the way the school calendars were kicked all over the place on account of elections and consequential disruptions…or the months wasted at home by university students because of the strike called by their lecturers as a result of prodigal abuse of past agreements between government and ASSU.

 When government officials deploy lies, blackmail and brinkmanship in an attempt to break lecturers’ resolve on a matter that seeks to make the government own up to, and perform its constitutional responsibilities!

I digress…my focus, as long ago as a decade, yet just like yesterday, is the long-suffering parents. Despite the failure and fumbles of our education administrators, Nigerian parents must step up, and from the formative years of our children, consider it very important to review and re-assess the quality and tenor of education our children are given in schools, and that which we give them at home.

We cannot hand the training of our children to teachers – because that is what they are paid to do? No! The consequences of a mis-educated child would hardly be felt by the teacher. The shame and hypertension associated with the stench emitted by an ill-educated child are fully borne by his or her parents.

Do not seek good structures, great ambience and mind-boggling tuition fees as yardsticks to pick “good” schools for your children. These things are not necessarily the moulding blocks on which you build a well-trained and schooled child. Even fantastic past results do not necessarily count as sure-fire proof of success in the education of a young mind. What then is?

Few things should occupy your mind, and inform your deliberate actions to get the best education affordable, for your child(ren). For one, ask from involved parents whose children attend schools you have earmarked. There are all sorts of parents: some just drop their children in the morning and pick them at the close of work (not necessarily at the close of school); some don’t check their children’s school work until they bring particularly poor results home. Involved parents monitor the progress of their children, gauge and engage their teachers to clarify or magnify areas that need attention.

Involved parents probe the deep mischievous crevices of their children’s minds to access their views of the school’s administration style, peer relationships and ancillary matters that can corrode or distract the minds of school children. Such parents will find time to parley with school owners or administrators on issues and areas identified as likely pitfalls that can short-change the future of those children.

 If you seek the opinions of such parents, and teachers of surrounding schools to the object of your interest; and ask for divine guidance in arriving at the best school for your child(ren), you are likely to live a blissful and wonderful life mentoring and nurturing them to the heights that God has laid down for them.