What is 2 +2 ?
What letter of the alphabet comes after “L”?
What is the 6th word of the Nigerian national anthem?
Who was the First Prime Minister of the country?
Okay, you’re probably rolling your eyes, wondering where I’m going with all these questions.
If all was well with your education, you’d probably be able to answer most the above questions without too much calculation. Yes? Yes! (Except that national anthem one, you know you sang it. Don’t lie).
We learn from an early age about about Math, English and History. We learn how to spell, to read and write. You know where we learn all that? School. No one says “Oh you don’t know your multiplication table?Shame on your parents”. When you make a grammatical error, people laugh and ask you who your English teacher was nobody asks why your mum or dad did not teach you English.
We spend three-thirds of our formative years in school. Hours learning how to be useful in society and how to make a path for ourselves. Really as time goes by, (especially if you live in a busy city like Lagos or Port Harcourt), children increasingly see less of their parents – as there are even boarding primary schools now. Parents are out there looking for money to pay fees, making life comfortable etc and as a result, they’re missing out on a lot of time with the kids. So, as much as we don’t like to admit it, majority of what we call “home training” is now “school training”.
I’ve see parents look at their children with disdain saying “I don’t know where s/he learnt that rubbish, it wasn’t from home”. School is training children let’s admit that and really key into it. This is not in anyway trying to diminish the importance of a parent in a child’s life, but it’s necessary for us to understand the power that our education system has on our future and really make sure that it’s carefully crafted to discourage unruly behavior.
When rape or any other form of sexual violence happens for example, it doesn’t just affect the victim or their family, it leaves a stain on the society too. If men and women grow up feeling entitled to people’s bodies then we as a country are not safe. If it’s a problem that affects us all and automatically becomes a collective problem that we should all work to fix. As we believe it is the parents duty to train their children, we also need to put weight on the school system too.
Our education system carries subject like social studies and civic education. So, the platform to provide more insight on sexual violence to school children already exists. It’s left for us to drive on it. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to secondary school children in Lagos and I was encouraged by their ability to define rape. Further probing made me realize that it was not particularly taught to them like a real thing. For them it was just another abstract and distant concept they’d learned & used in their exam script to wrap boli.
Some NGOs doing a couple of campaigns in a few schools can never have as much power as the Ministry of Education saying “let us educate our future leaders to respect one another and seek consent par adventure they decide to be” (and trust me a lot will decide to be) sexually active. We can say, it’s the parents job to talk to their children. But if they’re not motivated to do it, please let’s not be entirely dependent on them.
Like it or not most of what you learn in school stays with you. You still know that no matter where the sun decides to set, square root of 25 is 5. You still remember your secondary school anthem and that it was the British that colonized Nigeria.
Let’s sing in their ears and it will stay in their hearts.