Curtailing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has become imperative as parents who spoke to Funmi Ogundare, explained the measures they have been taking to make their children realise that rather than playing football on the street, kicking out the pandemic is a collective responsibility
Parents are taking on the dual roles of teachers and guardians as they devise ways of making children and their wards appreciate the importance of the stay-at-home directive of the federal government and measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic. They are teaching, counselling, as well as advising and controlling the activities of their wards during the lockdown.
Activity schedules like regular school timetables have also played a major role in most homes. Others are guiding their wards into online certificate programmes, supervised book reading, as well as creative writing.
Parents say they now take the time to explain the current health situation and its impact on everyone, teaching them how to prevent the spread of the pandemic and the danger inherent in mixing with crowd, keeping safe and practising simple hygiene, constant hand washing, disinfecting surfaces, as well as relating to them the importance of safety and staying indoors.
A parent, who is the Director of Marketing and Communication, Babcock University, Ilishan Remo, Ogun State, Mr. Suleiman Joshua told THISDAY that he has been reassuring his children that if they do these simple things, they will be fine, adding that he has been keeping them productively engaged at home to kill boredom.
“I drew up a schedule of daily activities involving everyone: prayer time, house chores stating who does what, food time, time for exercise stating who leads each day, study time in which each person touches base with their academics, leisure time dedicated to storytelling by anyone who has any interesting stories or experiences to share, reading time where each person picks any book of his/her choice from the book shelf, read a chapter and summarises it.”
The book, he said, is read in advance at least a day to sharing it with everyone, adding that it is to develop the culture of reading in them and broaden their experiences about peoples, places and life generally.
Another way to make the best use of their time, Joshua said, is to keep in touch with friends by phone. They are free to use their phones at this time. After which, they all submit their phones in my room. I also encouraged one of them to do an online certificate programme in a field related to her course of study. It’s three months, she can continue if school reopens before completion time,” he said.
For the younger one who loves constructing houses, ships, cars and other things, Joshua said he arranged with a designer to guide him in this area, adding that they do video conversations. “This is at a cost to me anyway. That is how I keep my children off the street, and they enjoy it. Everyone looks to the next day. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned, but everyone has a sense of direction.”
A lawyer, Mr. Sonnie Ekwowusi also corroborated Joshua, saying, “I have developed a flexible timetable for my children at home starting from the time they wake up till they go to bed. I have included in the timetable such things like morning devotions, house chores, breakfast, study, little repairs at home, lunch, games, sports and watching movies.”
The Vice-Chancellor of Edwin Clark University, Kiagbodo, Delta State, Professor Timothy Olagbemiro said he ensured that his children keep to the instructions on staying safe and detaching themselves from listening to gossips on the pandemic.
According to him, “the coronavirus knows no adult or youth. There are tons of fake news on the pandemic which would only bring them depression and fear. Yes, they may have faith, but if they are not careful, that faith can give room to fear.”
He noted that he has also advised them to look for skills they can acquire from the internet and learn to put up proposals which they could try to implement, adding, “there are tons and tons of information they could obtain via the web that could be of benefit to them. They could read novels to improve their vocabulary or learn to increase their reading speed and skills.”
The VC said he has also advised his children to use the time to be closer to God.
“They could set up specific times to pray for what they want in life. God asks us to ask for what we need. It means we can ask Him for anything we want and with faith, it could be achieved. The youths must remember their creator now, be friend to him, respect and serve him because time is coming in their old age when it will be too late to do so.”
A Theatre/Film Director, Mr. Tunde Adeyemo said he has been educating his children on the importance of avoiding all exploits hinged on physical social attractions and interactions, be it in sports, education or entertainment, as well as make them realise that the society is a collective responsibility.
“As a parent, I have given special concern to those within the teenage bracket who at this age, are highly susceptible to the exploits of social cohabitation, with all the fangs of global influences. They are vulnerable to the euphoria that comes with the instinct to discover both their bodily endowments and their boundless potential at their beck and call, with no regard to consequences. They have been educated on the implications of their actions during this passive third world war tagged Covid-19.”
Adeyemo, who is also an actor and writer, said he has educated his teenage children to aside socialising on social media, displaying nudity and vagrant nuances, they could take online tutorials with a seemingly nonactive classroom responsiveness.
“Rather than exposing themselves to the risk of Covid-19 infection through physical socialisation, they can roam the world online, shopping, studying and socialising on the convenience of their phones and computer. I believe that if the emergence of Covid-19 can keep our children to themselves in isolation for two to three weeks, they would learn to look inwards and perhaps the reading culture which seems to have long eluded their generation, would return unofficially.”
The President and Chief Executive Officer, Global Fund for Children, Mr. John Hecklinger, who has two teenage sons, said, “I have told my boys that their risks of serious illness is low, but it is their job to keep their grandfather who also stays with us safe. So, we all must stay away from others, even if they miss their friends. Our children need the right information to make them appreciate what the world is going through.”
However, sticking to government’s stay at home policy to guard against contracting the dreaded Covid-19 seems to be a challenge for the youths in the country, who have turned the streets to their football field and also do other forms of exercise, thereby defying the stay at home order,
Within the lockdown week, THISDAY monitored the compliance level of the youths who are meant to keep to the stay at home order of the federal government, designed to keep the spread of the pandemic at bay.
This reporter discovered that the youths seem to have defied the rule and are therefore defeating the objectives of the lockdown.
Between the hours of 7am and 11am, the youths usually take to the streets to either play football or do exercise within the Lagos metropolis. From Gbagada to Orile-Iganmu, Boundary, Surulere to Amuwo-Odofin and other places that have open spaces, the defiant youths prowl in groups, interacting without the awareness of now.
At the open places on the thoroughfare, in Gbagada, this reporter saw some youths jogging away in excitement, flaunting their sinews and interacting freely and sometimes competing, muscling their way on who would reach the set target first.
In Amuwo-Odofin, social distancing seems to be a mere platitude to the youths who believe that coronavirus which is currently ravaging mankind is a conspiracy theory.
In one of the streets visited at Jakande area of Amuwo-Odofin, youths between the ages of 17 and 22 years, congregated under a mango tree popularly called ‘Abe Igi’ around 9am to strategize on who the players are going to be for the day.
THISDAY checks revealed that since the lockdown started in Lagos on March 30, they have been congregating on different streets to play foootball.
In an interaction with some admission seekers who were waiting for their turn to be called into their makeshift football field, they told THISDAY that they are already bored of staying at home.
Master Micheal Akinloye said: “The virus is yet to get to our area and we need to exercise our bodies. We are not supposed to be living in fear. Coronavirus can come anyway it wants, but it is not here yet. Besides, I don’t have any reason to fear. If I begin to exhibit fear now, if it eventually comes, what will I do?”
Master Wale Boboye said, “we play with our legs, we don’t have to necessarily touch the next person. There is no reason to fear since President Muhammadu Buhari has said we should not panic. In Paris, they jog, it’s only in Nigeria that they arrest people.”
Already, efforts are being made to ensure that awareness is spread at the grassroots and communities about the coronavirus, while the state government has dispatched the taskforce and mobile courts to arrest and try those who disobey the lockdown order.
The Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, Mr. Valentine Buraimoh said parents have a big role to play by teaching their children the danger of the virus and ensure that they don’t go and mix with the crowd on the street, adding that those who fail to comply with the lockdown rules would be picked up and made to face the tribunal.
The Director, Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS), Professor Anthony Kila said rather than be on the street, his children will utilise the lockdown period to write more about the books they have read, shows they have watched and express themselves, adding that this method will get them to eventually read more in terms of content and format.
“I have advised them to write down what they think of people, events, ideas and places. By so doing, they will begin to design and defend their perfect world such that even people that listen to what they have done, will be awed by what they will discover.”
The President, Universal Learn Direct Academia (ULDA) and former Rector of Lagos State Polytechnic, Chief Olawumi Gasper said: “The time will be used to create a story around Covid-19 pandemic, by sharing personal experiences and challenges during the lockdown into a novel. A good script with good story lines will attract publishers and streams of finance for the young author.”