Education, The Nigerian Child, And Why You Must Take Part By Johannes Tobi Wojuola
If there is one attitude that is ubiquitous with the average Nigerian folk, it is the swift ability to throw a complaint and tag-a-blame once a problem arises. Over-beaten but I ask again, how many times have complaints or blame-game-trading fetched results? Not once that I know of.
Acts of terrorism, crime – petty and gross – hate, immorality, and corruption are all functions of ignorance of one truth or another. It is either the terrorist is oblivious of the value of human life, or is unaware of the truth of whose converse he kills for; the criminal may be the victim of poverty, but no man who ‘knows’ is poor, or he may be doing that out of a kleptomania – that is however not my point here; hate itself is borne out of ignorance of the potential of love and the self-destructive nature of hate to its carrier; immorality would always be argued for by ignoramuses, sadly it has never stood the test of the societal bar of sanity, leaving its peddlers to blame circumstances beyond their control till they repent after they become re-oriented of the comeliness of morality; corruption, our most dreaded monster enemy thrives because the ‘devil’ seems to shut the mind of its perpetrators to the doom they eventually bring to themselves and their kin. The average Nigerian complains of either all, two or more of these vile acts at least five times a day. That has not helped to solve the matter. And in truth, the sins have only conquered more territory among our people. Sad.
One fact was clear all through the above paragraph, and that is ignorance is the arch sponsor of this madness. The Bible aptly captures this when it says in Hosea chapter 4 verse 6; “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (ASV). There are two options; either we stand and ‘unlook’ and eventually become contaminated by these viruses that flow from the pit of deception and sweet nescience or we stand up and fight them with education. Knowledge or its dearth, is the major ingredient that distinguishes a civilized society from a town of savages. The western society today, whose ideals the world’s blocs ersatz in one way or the other is founded on superior education – one that is far apart from any political manipulation. They are very aware that to be at the pinnacle of the world’s domination, ignorance in any form must not be allowed any manure to foster.
Education is the key to save a society from the vile savagery that the potent of human foibles desire to express. Education is the root for any kind of development. It is the bedrock for the cure of illusions and the foundation for forming rational thoughts. It is a tool for the empowerment of the mind that eventually spurs the cultivation of positive and society changing development. But education, like every other social innovation, is a two way street. And the way that is unfettered, open and seeks truth leads to the good. Whereas, that which offers part knowledge, unbalanced ideologies, deceit and unfounded theories leads to the obvious bad – and for me, that is nothing more than ignorance clothed in the false toga of education. The former is what I advocate for; the latter, is what I am against – totally! As the foundation of every building is the determinant of how far it will tower, or if it will be brought to grains when shaken, likewise, education must be imbibed from an early age in our young ones to foster a generation whose root ideals are soaked in rational, positive, avant-gardist, eclectic and commonsensible revolutionary thoughts. This is the sure tool for a twirl in the direction of our nation’s values. Values form the basis of good principles. And only when these good values are permeated into the minds of toddlers would we then have a bottom-up revolution of positive change in our society.
About 40 million Nigerian children are in school. Nigeria has a 67% literacy rate. These figures are positive but more must be topped to it in the coming years. The numbers which subtract from the entire potential population of children that should be in school exist because poverty and lack of opportunity wages a war against them. This war can only be fought with our resources. The government has its role to play, whether or not it is doing so, and remarkably so, should not be our concern at this point. Rather, what must bother us is the part that each and every one of us must play – outside the usual complaining. Many middle and upper class Nigerians are unaware that N5,000 to N10,000 can send a child to a public school for a full year. Yes. I have had the opportunity to interact with a Secondary School principal of a Public Secondary School in Gwagwalada, Abuja, and the tuition fee for a child in his school is N1,500 a term – inclusive of PTA fees. Surprisingly very cheap you may say. Yet, it is more astonishing that a chunk number of students in these public schools cannot pay this meager fee – thus denying them the opportunity of an even less than average education. The beauty of hope that beams here is that almost everyone can play a part to fight the perils of ignorance; supporting NGOs who make efforts at giving scholarships to indigent children, joining a book club, donating books – old and new – to public schools, paying the school fees of indigent children, encouraging young people who are out of school to go back to school and even going the extra mile to enroll a child in school if your means allow you to, taking a free tutorial class in a public school, sharing knowledge, positive messages, and relevant content on social media are a few ways you can take up ‘arms’ in this battle.
There is no greater truth than the younger generation are the leaders of tomorrow – in thought and in acts. The seeds we sow in them today would determine whether the polity will withstand the madness of ignorance that may rear its head tomorrow. I am grateful – always – to my dear mother who sweated her youth to give me and my siblings a worthy education. I am a reflection of that today, likewise my siblings. The ripple effect of that stellar education I once received is what breeds this advocacy today. And for every child who fortune smiles at that receives a sound education, another ripple effect begins. In no time, praiseworthy values, principles and thoughts would be entrenched in our society.
I conclude on this: Education is a right, just like any entitled right that man has. We must do all that is within our strengths to see to it that every child is not deprived of this right. And more so, after we have fought the good fight and when every whelp is certain of receiving education, we may then begin the war that QUALITY EDUCATION must NOT be a privilege.
Johannes Tobi Wojuola is a Capitalfield Human Rights Ambassador. He can be reached on www.google.com/+johanneswojuola .