I have been reading with keen interest arguments raised for and against the event that occurred at Queen’s College, Lagos. I must state that those that launched the bastardisation of the Nigerian education sector some decades ago really had a mission for doing so. It is so shameful that our institutions of learning have been turned to some sort of moral gymnasium, a perfect reflection of the decrepit nature of our societies where serious mental scrutiny through logic has given way to mediocrity.
Going by several opinions pushed out so far, the message being passed across indicates that women are still seen as sex objects and are expected to mould their public self-image through a sexualised appearance.
A close look at the dressing of the Queen’s College girl would convince anyone who believes in freedom and human rights that, as an extension of her freedom of expression, there is absolutely nothing wrong in the eyelashes she was putting on. But it is so pathetic that we are in a country where rape and sexual harassment are justified based on what a woman chooses to put on her body.
We have witnessed instances where women are expected to monitor their looks and modify their outfits depending on what is required in a given setting just to satisfy the moral compass of a segment of the society, and, this was at play in the Queen’s College scenario where the innocent girl was not just shamed but also humiliated for wearing eyelashes. It is embarrassing that despite the fact that the constitution provides for right to dignity of persons (with no emphasis on gender or age), the innocent girl was subjected to inhuman treatment by the authority of the school.
Without being hypocritical, the response of the school authority to the girl’s dressing is most unfortunate, condemnable and constitutes an assault on her person. Individuals have control over what they wear, but, it is most disheartening that the innocent girl has been a victim of negative evaluations even from women who should have ordinarily stand to defend her.
I remember that “education is light” used to be a favourite motto of many schools in my early years while growing up in Ibadan. This motto was clearly used by many in those days to the present without giving thought to perspectives, shades and colours of light the so-called education brings forth. Critical questions such as the kind of light (education) we are shining forth (imparting) need be asked considering the fact that candle light and light bulb cannot be compared in terms of brightness.
Nigerian secondary and tertiary education have so sank over the years that their worthless value shine forth so much that it blinds us. As far as Nigerian education is concerned, charlatans whose sole aim is to make profits have taken the drivers’ seat while professionals have become waste in the physics of the current sorry situation we are as a people. While the charlatans look chubby in their SUVs, the professionals look worn out with grey hairs and worn out shoes. This sorry state we are as a people reflects in how students are being treated with disdain in our institutions of learning.
It is therefore high time government paid adequate attention to education by providing realistic, effective and implementable policies to revive our educational sector from the present unfortunate development.
Kazeem Olalekan Israel, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife