Victor C. Ariole argues the need for the authorities to provide a conducive environment for children to learn

When a toddler cries for food and you decide to crack palm-kernels for him, you know he will ask you; where are the teeth to crush them? Gaius Ariole

The expedient and imperative for Nigeria, now, is that all must be done to crack and marsh kernels for Nigerian children whose readiness drive needed to be actuated to go on learning; otherwise over million Nigerian children and youths could enter into recessive or even dormant neuronal readiness drive mode, leading to either depression or deviant behaviours.

Readiness is one of the concepts educational psychologists talk about, alongside maturation and genetic disposition, for the positive development of children. Environment helps in actuating readiness. Favourable environment makes for good and wholesome development of the child. Environment sewn with unceasing dangerous items makes for deviant development. The minimalist way Gaius, my old-man, explains is what is stated above. However, if, indeed, you intend to assuage the hunger of the child for no other alternative to palm-kernel, then, you must marsh it in pulps for him. Note that in crass poverty in some areas in Biafra during the war, palm-fruit and palm-kernel were never in lack, and they were well used the way current crude oil ought to be used.

What is not in lack in the current lockjam of actuating the readiness for functional duties of over 10 million Nigerian children and youths, expected to be useful to the nation in future, is the solid mineral and crude oil exploited, currently, that must be cracked and mashed to serve the best interest of the youths and children for they are as at now asking the government to start cracking and mashing it for their use, instead of presenting the figures of oil sales to them, as they do not have the capacity or the readiness to be the ones putting the money of the sales to usefulness now. Education is the only way to do that and it must stand on the ethos of: Education for social Justice and Sustainable Enculturation Process. Note that it is not for acculturation but enculturation as what education inculcates must not be strange to the enduring cultural dynamics the society intends to follow so as to be competitive in the global culture. What education does is to be mindful of human beings who must sustain the dynamism of the society; and they must be educated following the continuous matching of their genetic disposition, that is ever evolving and seeking for challenges, either in the society or beyond, to actuate its potential. So, at maturation of such potential and their readiness to perform challenging functions that ennoble the society, which their physical growth or innate abilities expose, it behoves the leaders and the government to provide the environment that sharpens such readiness push to perform requisite functions expected of them.

So, schools must open with safety facilities made available or in the alternative functional tablets with available electricity must be provided for the over 10 million youths and children who need them now to continue strengthening their neurons for positive orientation without which more Almajaris and rapists could be facing Nigeria in years to come. Providing isolation centers in each school, running water taps, observing social distances, are not impossibilities or beyond One Trillion naira.

Indeed when people go to the National Assembly and see legislating against rape as a “one-way” phenomenon isolated from government or leadership delinquency, one wonders if such leaders are to be exempted from psychological rape of the society that make a physical rape just a child’s play. Imagine the current revelation of the embezzlement in the NDDC which greatly impoverishes the masses of that region, and creates frustrations that lead to either alcoholism or deviant behaviours among their populace.

If people take time to evaluate patients on the spectrum of autism, as explained by experts, they could notice that even as seen as genetic condition, it could be challenged to reverse. An expert in brain studies in Allez-Savoir, Lausanne – Paola Bizzi, sees it as ever process of neuronal internal communication to steady or adjust individuals to realities and experiences faced in life; and that as flapping butterflies, their neurons in their clustered pyramid outlook, must be made beautiful by the experiences they encode.

This is where “never interrupt the educational experiences a child is going through” comes in. An interruption could be devasting to some children or youths. The encoding process of the neurons does not want vacuum.

Vacuum is always filled by, possibly, what the society abhors for its own positive sustainability. Hence, even the rape epidemic in Nigeria, as at now, could be a remote vacuum creation in the individuals involved, in the past, because as Morayo of TVC thinks in her programme that “Mr. Johnson” (referring to a great erection of the penis) could be made to reason and come down instead of getting to rape level, “an ugly flapping” neurons that had suffered vacuum, could turn a great mental case, like a soldier suffering from artillery shock.

The West, especially, refers to LGBTQAI+ and expect those in that spectrum to identify themselves so as to avoid being wrongly evaluated as normal human beings when they misbehave. It is part of society acknowledging their own weak proactive intelligence gathering that had reached the pandemonium level, and is pleading that people identify where they fall in the spectrum so as to avoid being discriminated against.

Every deviant behaviour is easily detected in an educational environment if, indeed, those in charge make it a point of raising future participants in the society whose readiness drives had been well encultured to lean towards positive ends. The environment government and leaders provide today goes a long way in making tomorrow better. Covid-19 could just be a child’s play in how challenging the coming world could be for nations, especially in caring for their future generation.

Ariole is Professor of French and Francophone Studies

University of Lagos