INDISCIPLINE IN NIGERIA’S EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS (3)
“Good academic qualifications without good foundation of self-discipline, the individual is useless to him/herself, family and the society”.
Over the past two weeks I have examined the growing issue of indiscipline in Nigerian educational sector. I have stated how there is a growing menace of substance abuse amongst Nigerian youths and how this pretends a clear and present danger to the objectives of most educational institutions in Nigeria to produce graduates who are not only sound in learning but who also possess sterling character traits.
IMPORTANCE OF DISCIPLINE TO EDUCATION
Discipline is important for any meaningful inculcation of Knowledge. Societal values are important for the survival of any society. This much is reflected in the National Policy on Education which has as one of its objectives the inculcation of values and attitudes for the survival of the Nigerian Society. My finding is “that student indiscipline generally militates against effective teaching and learning and production of quality graduates”. Stating the connection between academic learning and discipline,Philomena Mukami Njorogein an article titled “Discipline as a Factor in Academic Performance in Kenya” wrote as follows:
“Discipline is essential… It is not only the key to good academic performance, which all parents, students and teachers cherish and aspire but also a preparation for success throughout life. In fact, it has been observed that good academic qualifications without good foundation of self-discipline, the individual is useless to him/herself, family and the society. Every school is expected to have a standard code of conduct which every student is supposed to adhere to willingly without compulsion.“
As I stated last week peer pressure remains one of the causes of indiscipline in schools. However repeated studies of the subject have revealed some other factors which contribute to it. Whisman, A. &Hammer, P. C. in a 2014 Paper tilted “The association between school discipline and mathematics performance: A case for positive discipline approaches” identified several factors that can contribute to student behavioral problems at school as including:
- exposure to adversity, including violence and substance abuse in economically distressed neighborhoods, which can lead to anxiety, irritability, stress, and hyper vigilance
- the need to ward off the threat of violence by developing a tough persona;
- being from a low-income family, living in a low-income community, and attending school with high rates of low-income students;
- the frustration, disaffection, and lower self-confidence that can come with low school achievement;
The above factors are very much true in Nigeria where economic factors do prevent some children from getting the much needed upbringing that they require to develop good characters and on the contrary expose them too early to factors that guarantee they develop criminal tendencies. Some weeks back the internet was awash with news of a alleged 7 year old boy who was lynched by an angry mob for alleged theft of garri. However subsequent investigations revealed that the boy whose real age was put at about 16 was actually a member of a gang of some homeless youth who for months had terrorised members of the public in that area by dispossessing them of their properties and in some cases even causing them grievous bodily harm. In another instance, a particular secondary school in a part of Lagos state then noted for its general poverty and squalor was regarded by Police authorities as a haven for budding armed robbers. Such was the level of indiscipline in the school that some students were always reported to be in possession of firearms. Without a doubt, only dire economic circumstances coupled with breakdown of the family unit could have led to such circumstances.
The approach to solving the problem must be multi-faceted. It must involve all stakeholders. As Njoroge wrote again:
“…discipline involves all stakeholders, programmes as well as personality and school climate. Charlton and David (1993) assert that if there is no proper family environment social differences and learners are from disadvantaged social areas; this could lead to bad discipline and negative results academically. However, if the family background is not good, different social classes are present in the school, school is located in a socially disadvantaged area and there is bad influence of peer groups it will have a negative effect on discipline so academic achievement will also be negatively affected.“
Thus Government must reappraise its attitude and policy to issues bothering on education. In this regard, the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions Prohibition Act, 2016; otherwise known as the Sexual Harassment Act is a very welcome development. The Act criminalises and punishes acts of sexual harassment in educational institutions in Nigeria. There should also be increased funding of the educational sector as with better pay teachers and other stakeholders in the sector will be motivated to carry out their jobs effectively and with zeal rather than in a perfunctory manner. Such increased funding will also ensure that schools are better equipped to impart learning. As overcrowded classrooms have been identified as one of the factors causing teachers to lose control of the classrooms, better funding will ensure that there are more classrooms to accommodate students. A situation in which 50 or more students will be assigned to a classroom will be avoided. There must also be an improvement in the teacher student ratio. Assigning few teachers to a huge student population only contributes to the problem.
Government must also continue to pay attention to the urgent need to tackle poverty. As disclosed above, the environment in which children grow up or in which their schools are located play some part in their moral development and whatever disciplinary issues they may pose later in life. Tackling poverty will also ensure that more children are not forced to grow up before their time. Their parents will also not be forced by economic stress to relegate to the background, issues pertaining to the upbringing of their children. Parents on their part must bring about a change in their attitude to the moral training of their children. The home must be made conducive for such training. A child who is raised in dysfunctional home can hardly be expected to receive the best of moral training. Nothing will be achieved where emphasis is placed on academic training alone without commensurate attention to moral upbringing.
AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR, SAN, CON, LL.D