Afe Babalola urges Proprietors of Private Schools to rejig their Curriculum

By: Tunde Olofintila

The Founder & Chancellor of Afe Babalola Univertsity, Ado-Ekiti, ABUAD, Aare Afe Babalola, CON, SAN, has urged Proprietors of Private Schools in Nigeria to consider the compulsory inclusion of Religion, History, Geography, Nature Study, Hygiene and Agriculture in their curriculum in their quest to produce all-round young men and women who will develop into transformational leaders.

In his Goodwill Message to the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS, at this year’s National Conference which flagged off in Owerri, the Imo State capital yesterday, Babalola recalled that whereas Religion and History teach the development of man, particularly the lives of great men, Geography and Nature Study teach how man and planets came into existence.

Babalola, who was represented by the Coordinator of Afe Babalola University International School, Mrs. Bukola Ajisafe, pointed out that a cursory look at the history of many Nigerian great men today would reveal that most of them went to schools where the above-mentioned subjects were taught, stressing that in the end, they came out as highly disciplined, purposeful and honest leaders.

Painting a rather pathetic picture of a radical departure from what was in vogue in those days, the frontline Educationist said: “But what is the situation like today? Nigeria ranks among the most corrupt countries in the world. It is one of the worst places to be born, a place of high infant and maternal mortality, one of the leading countries with the least school enrolment and a member of the countries with the most impoverished population as well as one of the countries with the highest polio virus prevalence’’.

He added: “There are some other seemingly attractive, but derogatory indicators like Nigeria being among the leading private jet owners, a country with the highest importation of rice and wheat despite its vast arable land, a country least conducive for setting up business and a  country with the highest crude oil theft as well as being the country running the most expensive democracy in the world, with each of the country’s Senators currently drawing a scandalous N180 million/annum (at N45 million/quarter) in allowances while each of the 360 members of the House of Representatives gets a princely N144 million/ annum (at N36 million/quarter) allowances, either of which towers above the $569,000 (about N91.04 million) annual emolument of the American President’’.

In his view, the concept of qualitative and functional education must be inculcated in the students at Primary and Secondary levels for them to appreciate the need to use their hands in small scale enterprises, which will flourish in future. This way, they will not become over-dependent on the society as they will continually remember that their University Certificates are not meant to apply for jobs, but to make them all-rounder that can turn things around for good.

He buttressed his position with the wise saying of Joseph Addison, an English Essayist that “Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no enemy can alienate, no deposition can enslave. At home, (it is) a friend, abroad, an introduction, in solitude, a place and in society, an ornament. It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives, at once, grace and government, to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning Savage”, 

On the all-important issue of discipline in Primary and Secondary Schools vis-s-vis the contentious matter of corporal punishment, Babalola said: ”I recall vividly how morality and discipline were taught in our schools in those days. Our teachers did not spare the cane. In fact, our parents encouraged it by threatening to report us to our teachers. There was cooperation between the home and the school on the issue of corporal punishment”.

He added: “But the reverse is the case today. Most of us here over-pamper our children. We do not want them caned. We must appreciate that no parent would want to kill his/her child. So too, no teacher wants to kill his/her pupil. A teacher is the parent of the child when the child is in school. He steps into the shoes of the biological parents. There is therefore no basis for the abrogation of corporal punishment in schools.

“I read in a newspaper recently that a teacher was asked to pay a fine of N25 million for caning a student. Although I do not have the details of the case, but I believe that the cane should not be spared in the training of the child because words alone may not be able to achieve the desired goals. Caning makes the indolent child sit up. However, in caning the child, no injury must be inflicted on the child.

“As a lawyer, I am not aware of any law that says a parent cannot cane his child. In the same way, the teacher who assumes the position of the child’s parent while the child is in school should be entitled to cane the child”.

He therefor urged NAPPS to appeal to the appropriate authorities to moderate the all-important issue of discipline in schools to enable them produce disciplined students that will become  transformational leaders like the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnmadi Azikiwe, Sir Denis Osadebey and himself.

He paid tribute to the leadership of NAPPS for sustaining the tempo of quality education at the Primary and Secondary levels, stressing that the roles of Primary and Secondary Schools in the life of children cannot be overemphasized because it is at these levels that the foundation of what the children will become in future is laid.