Last week, I wrote about the misconception of the true role of education which in large measure has resulted in the decline in quality of education in Nigeria. I stated among others that the purpose
of education should be programmed to produce a complete man who would embrace the values of self reliance, honesty, diligence, entrepreneur, self-esteem and ability to face the reality of life.This week, I will deal with how parents have contributed to the rapid decline in education in Nigeria.
Often times, we all blame the students, particularly at secondary and tertiary levels, for not being sufficiently serious at their studies, forgetting that more often than not, the parents themselves are tangentially culpable and responsible for the irresponsibility of their children.
In order to properly build up a child and make a total man/woman out of him/her, there is need for cooperation between the home and the school. It is in appreciation of this that all over the world institutions established Parents and Teachers Associations for the overall development of the students.
When children are under the control of teachers particularly in boarding schools, the teachers are expected to take over the children’s welfare, security, safety, health, indeed the children’s general wellbeing in addition to their education, thus making the duty of the teachers far much more than the parents’.
But when the children go back home, what do we find? It is either their parents don’t have time to supervise their children or they are too busy with the pursuit of their businesses at the expense of the welfare of the children. Some are even too busy to look at their children’s report cards.
But lest I am misunderstood, I don’t have anything against any professional (after all, I am one myself) or hard work, but a delicate and deliberate balance must be struck between people’s career and a good home.
Here, I want to rely on some personal experience. Sometime last year at about 12:30 in the afternoon, I caught a student who was trying to escape through a bush to the town. He confessed that he was going out to drink beer. Aghast, I told the young man the lack of wisdom inherent in his self-imposed pastime with a subtle threat that I would report him to his father.
His mien and attitude was that: what is the big deal about drinking beer? As if that was not enough, he dropped the bombshell by saying that it would not matter if he was reported to his father because they both share drinks at the family bar back home.
On another occasion, a student was caught drinking alcohol and indeed, he was drunk. Again, when he was told that he would be reported to his father, he merely smiled and retorted that it was needless and futile reporting him to his father because, according to him, he was sure his father would have been drunk by that time of the day!
Lo and behold, when I called his father, he was not only stark drunk, but was babbling some incoherent words that he would speak with me later, to which the young student retorted: ‘but I warned you not to call him that he would have been drunk’. Pray, how do you manage such students who have been negatively ‘formed’ from home?
Another way parents have contributed to the decline in education is in their failure to cooperate with school authorities in ensuring full compliance with College rules and regulations. In most public universities today, students stroll in three/four weeks after resumption without their parents chasing them back to school.
This brings me to the case of a female student in our university who came three weeks after resumption only for her mother to come, ‘pleading’ that they were both away holidaying in Dubai. This at time when her colleagues have put in three weeks of serious academic work and have written at least two tests!
When I was the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council in UNILAG, I noticed that some highly placed and influential parents gave directives to the Vice-Chancellor to give their children admission even when such children did not qualify.
Before I assumed office, about 1,000 of such unqualified students were admitted. I found that they were the ones causing trouble at the approach of examinations at the end of each semester because they were never prepared to write examinations.
The Vice-Chancellor did not want to offend these powerful big bosses, hence I personally wrote to reject their demand.
Again, there was this woman whose daughter was always coming last in her secondary school class, but her mother told me barefacedly that her child would be admitted regardless of her academic performance/status.
Lo and behold, when the JAMB result that year came out, her daughter scored over 290, one of the best results that year. The child was later sent out of the university at the end of the first session as she could not cope.
I found that most of the students who scored very high marks at the JAMB examination were the children of some devious parents who had made in road to JAMB, thereby compromising the quality of their examination.
It was for this reason that I, as the Chairman of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors, proposed in 2004 that JAMB be scrapped. Good enough, the government agreed with us, but with a proviso that JAMB should remain the platform while the individual universities were free to conduct their own UTME. That it was the origin of UTME.
I have said it several times that university education was pioneered by Christian missionaries, particularly the Roman Catholic, and not by government. Priority was given to discipline and character moulding and the trend has continued till today with missionary private universities as well as other private universities founded by philanthropist but certainly not with public school.
It would appear that Nigeria started on a wrong note following the Elliot recommendation after which government established and funded the first university (University of Ibadan) in 1948 while the nation’s second generation universities like University of Ife, University of Lagos, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and University of Benin among many others followed suit. By this act, government made people to erroneously believe that it was the duty of government to establish schools and fund education.
It is the duty of parents to train their children, even if government or some other Agencies have to render some form of assistance. It is immoral, if not sinful to produce children and donate them to the government to train. Perhaps more importantly, it is improper for politician and government functionaries to promise electorates free education when they know they cannot afford what it takes to provide private quality education.
AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR, CON, SAN, LL.D, D.Litt