By Paschal Chisom Obi
Yesterday morning, as I strolled down the street of Abuja for my usual early Monday morning exercise, I observed that the street were busy unlike before. I saw smiles on the faces of young students as they resume for a new term. As they match to their various schools, some were carrying their lockers and chairs on their head. Those living in boarding houses were loaded with snacks. Some were busy admiring their new school uniforms, new sandals and new bags. Some were rushing so as not to be late, while others were walking sluggishly.
I almost had pity on a young boy who was wearing torn and an unironed uniform. His sandal was too dusty and almost equivalent to that of a farmer. I wondered if he was coming from a home that morning or from a farm settlement. I wanted to laugh about it, but at a second thought, I had pity. This time, not only at the boy, but to the parents for failing in their Godly responsibility. I observed some student putting on their uniforms, sandals and others tucking in their shirts in front of the school gate. Where are they are coming from? Home.
Also in the evening of yesterday, I was able to speak with some students who came for a youth program in the Church; known as Kizigor group. There in the group, majority of them were happy sharing their experiences as regards the new academic year. One Miss Agatha said, “My school was very busy today, we did a thorough sanitation round the school compound, we also used the opportunity to share our holiday experiences. I am happy been in a new class, and I feel that I am moving higher in life.”
Another Kizigor member called, Yetunde said, “I left my former school to a new school. In my new school we wrote resumption text after a few hours of sanitation, unlike my former school where students play without seeing the teacher on resumption days. Today, the teachers together with the students did an evaluation of the last first term. The form teachers of each class also had a private discussion with all the students as regards their academic, social and spiritual performance of the last year.
I was highly impressed with Yetunde's school. Their level of initiative and organization is highly commendable. Owing to the fact that writing text at the beginning of the term will help the students to wake up mentally. It will resurrect zeal, hard work and focus in them.
Nevertheless, for there to be a forum for evaluation shows that the school released their student's results before vacation, unlike other schools were students have not seen their results up till now. However, these results and teachers evaluation sheet helps the parents to know their wards performance in school. It will also help the student to buckle up and maintain a balanced academic, social and spiritual life.
A critical assessment of our today's parents and teachers showed that they are too busy, not having time for children. Rev. Fr. Victor Ogunyemi, the founder of Kizigor, teenager group, will always emphasize that, “parents should be there for their children at every stage of their development.” Different schools will soon start their (Parent’s and Teacher’s Association meeting) “P.T.A”. It's now normal that a father, mother or guardian gives his or her wards the levy offhand for them to pay for their absenteeism. Some will even beckon on the parents of other children in their ward’s school who will attend the meeting, to sign on their behalf. Some even go to the extent of sending house-helps and drivers as a representative. What a shameless and parentless generation.
I pity such parents. Their children are not better than orphans. Out of ignorance, some of these parents fight or use abusive words on the teachers without knowing what wrong the child exhibited that warranted him or her punishment. In such situation, bringing up the child in the right way becomes a contradiction and a vain venture. An incident occurred when I was still in secondary. It happened that a student always collected over sixty thousand Naira from his parents, whereas the school fees was not up to Forty thousand Naira.
There is also a popular saying that children of today will be the adults of tomorrow. According to Bishop Ayo-Maria, “Children are the future of a country.” Therefore, they are future leaders. Thus, how a society turns out when these children take over will depend on how much the parents, teachers and the society invested in them when they were young.
However, a well-trained child is like a treasure to the family and a source of joy to the society at large. It is our duty then to teach, shape and balance their understanding in the right and acceptable way. Not simply as a duty but gladly, because God wants it (1 Peter 5:2). Thus, when we neglect or out of ignorance do not give our children the desired training, our children suffer, parents suffer too because of their Child's bad behaviour and the society suffers the most (1Sam3:11-13).
As I jogged back, as I stopped over at a supermarket to get a bottle of cold water, I overheard a woman saying, “Finally, school don start, make I even rest for this house.” Dear parents, school resumption is not a time for you to rest. It is time to find out what your sons and daughters are doing in school. It is time to visit their teachers and inquire of the social, intellectual, spiritual and psychological growth of your child. It is time to attend their (Parents and Teachers Association meeting) “P.T.A” and know what is going on in their school.
Dear parents, paying your child's school fees, giving him or her snack is not enough. Emotional and moral encouragement is also required, most especially, in their social, spiritual, intellectual and psychological growth. According to St. Jose Maria, “the most profitable business in one's life is to train his children. Just bringing them into the world is not enough, you have to transmit into them your spirituality, your love for God and your devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov: 1:7).
However, support also entails helping them to develop their talents and to choose their life profession or vocation. No matter how busy, parents should always make out time to discuss, play and pray with their children, because it straightens family relationship and creates room for openness, counseling, correction and advice. Through this, the child develops trust, understanding and inner freedom.
Parents should always be watchful and observant on the kinds of friends their children keep. Encourage your child, and don't praise him too much. Allow your child to experience the inward joy that comes from putting others first. However, child's training also entails loving and teaching both genders equally. For example, some women say, “what a man can do, we can do better.” It is unfortunate that some men are not challenged with this statement. Thus, its time men take up that challenge and begin to say, that, “what a woman can do we can also do better.”
Encourage your child to join any good social, spiritual, intellectual or technological clubs in his or her school. In the youth forum, Tonia Ideah a student of Delta State University, Abraka also encouraged members to join any good reading and prayer group in their schools and to prove themselves without hurting others, to be polite, hardworking, know their rights, maintain and have values for themselves.
A craftsman always want the best in his work and shapes his artifact the way he wants it to be - desirable. Therefore, parents and teachers are like a craftsman. They need to show good example or else all the effort to change a certain situation would persist. Good example entails showing proper behaviour, mannerisms and ideals culture of living both in their words and action. Never be a dictator, but be an example that the whole flock can follow (1 Peter 5:3). Charles Read said, ''Sow an act and you reap a habit, sow a habit and you reap a character, sow a character and you reap a destiny.''
“Adighi amu aka ekpe na nka” Says an Igbo adage, which means that one does not learn how to use left hand at old age. Therefore, train a child in the way he or she should follow, so that when he is old he will hold on to it (Prov.22:6). If we treat them well, we will reap the seed of joy in this world and an everlasting happiness in the world to come.
Interviewer: Dear child, what have you to tell your parents as you go back to school again?
Student: I speak on behalf of other children. I beckon on our dear parents, dear teachers, and our leaders to give us a quality education, to give us the best facilities for our learning, and to support us in whatever good we are doing. Our leaders, please pay our teachers well and at the right time so that they will not relent or go on strike. We students promise to always listen to our teachers, obey the school rules and regulations and strive for excellence in all that we do.
Interviewer: Dear teacher, what have you to tell our dear parents?
Teacher: Dear parents, always helps us so as to help your child. Provide the basic needs like textbooks and writing materials for your children. We teachers render service to humanity and most especially the country. When you fight us, you do not only fight our work, you also fight the country and its future. Let's join hands to bring up individuals that we ourselves will be proud to identify with tomorrow.
Interviewer: Dear parents, what have you to tell our dear teachers?
Parent: My dear teachers, please always report any awkward behaviours of our children to us, either through sms or telephone calls. “Nwa bụ nwa ợra,” says an Igbo adage. It means that the child belongs not to the parents alone, but to everybody. Therefore, join hands with us to show them the right path. Hard it may seem right now, but surely, you and I will reap the fruit of our labour. When you and I, pray, teach and bless them, they will also pray, teach and bless us in return. Thank you and God bless you, Amen.