Boys Scouts, Girl Guides as springboard for value reorientation, leadership
Discipline, integrity, leadership and other values are central to how a society progresses and reinvents itself.
These values are crucial such that para-military organisations like Man’o War, Boys Scouts and Girl Guides teach them. Some organisations and religious bodies also established para-military organisations to groom youths in leadership.
The Boys Scout serves as a recruitment centre for leadership, as the emphasis was on citizenship training and community service. The organisation plays a vital role in grooming young people, nurturing interest in military and other security services as well as serving as a springboard for many successive military careers.
Founded in 1915, when Nigeria gained independence in 1960, the scouting programme was heavily promoted. However, in recent years, interests in such organisations have dwindled, and the ubiquitous uniforms that young boys wear with pride are now a rare sight and parents no longer push for their children to be members of youth clubs again.
Worried by the development, the Oyo State government, in September 2020, expressed readiness to reintroduce Scout Clubs in public primary schools across the state for character moulding and sound learning of pupils.
Executive Chairman, Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Dr Nureni Adeniran, during an advocacy visit by the leadership of the association, said the Boys Scout would give pupils the opportunity to get first-hand insights on preparedness for life.
The SUBEB boss said the reintroduced club would be an improved adaptation of the earlier one, which would make pupils more responsible for their academics and extracurricular activities.
The State Commissioner, the Boys Scouts, Mr. Adetunji Adepeju, urged SUBEB to encourage at least four members of staff in each school to present themselves for training as Scout leaders, who shall monitor, maintain and sustain the training and teams in the respective schools.
Speaking on the need for Boys Scouts to experience a resurgence and help in moulding the youths, a teacher, Sulaimon Adeshina Oshoare, said the nation needs it as a veritable agent of change to inculcate in the youths, loyalty, patriotism and thoughtfulness for others.
He said these attributes are ingredients for Future and aspiring leaders.
Oshoare noted that clubs like the Girls Guides inculcate values and mould members to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
“Most of our administrators, military officers, lawyers and captains of industries were former proud members of the scout association,” he said.
Oshoare, however, attributed the declining interest in Boys Scouts and other associations to many factors. According to him, the polarisation and military incursion into Nigeria’s political terrain bastardised the school curriculum, making it silent on the impact of scout in nation-building.
“Also, the change in the school curriculum and the school system from 6-5-4 to 6-3-3-4 failed to strengthen the noble gains entrenched by scouting. Similarly, the attitude of parents and current economic woes forced many Nigerians to see it as an expensive exercise without gains,” he said.
This notwithstanding, Oshoare believes that paramilitary clubs and organisations can help turn around the decadence in society through value reorientation.
Oshoare noted that in Lagos State, many schools had incorporated uniformed clubs and also encouraged their students to join one or two uniformed organisations.
To achieve the desired result, he advised that the Scout Association of Nigeria should periodically organise workshops and seminars to showcase the achievements of scouting, while major ex-scouts should serve as mentors, as well as provide funding and materials to assist scout members.
“Camping should be brought back into the school system, especially during the holidays to avoid clashes with the school calendar,” he said.
Oshoare stressed that the noble initiative of establishing scouts should not be allowed to die, adding that the current crops of learners need to be exposed to the aims and objectives of the scouting association, which, specifically, is geared towards youth development and assisting them to reach their full physical, intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual potentials as individuals and responsible citizens in their local, national and international communities.
A lecturer at the Centre for Continuing Education, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Esther Idowu, said Boys scouts taught boys various outdoor events from drumming to marching, survival tactics, leadership skills and interpersonal relations.
Idowu noted that watching young ones dressed in their uniforms was always interesting and attractive, viewing their semi-military uniforms that were smart, neat and admirable.
“I really cannot pinpoint what led to the decline in the popularity of the Boys Scouts, but I think some other religious groups now have their look-alikes. For instance, my older son, aged 11 years, went to the Pathfinders Camp organised by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Nigeria, and all they did were similar to the activities of Boys Scouts, even their uniforms.
“But possibly, technology has driven leaders and the boys back to face other activities like coding and robotic engineering.”
Idowu, however, maintained that the organisation is still relevant in moulding leaders, noting that Boys Scout has a way of taking the mind away from moral rots in society.
“It has the power to reform young minds, build positive images and reputation for the society and help make formidable decisions regarding life issues when they are confronted,” she said.
Idowu stressed the need for Boys Scouts to be revived, spiced up, and re-launched in places and institutions where they used to have them.
“Include it as an extra-curricular activity in schools just as we have JETS club and others. Make it attractive, just start,” Idowu said.
Another teacher, Mrs Morayo Oyin-Adejobi, said a scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other scout; his duty is to be useful and help others.
“From the slogan of the scout, goes on to show that they all believe in the same thing right from when they join – standing up for one another, no matter who it is. This is a very strong attribute of a good leader.
“Through training and example of their leaders, scouts are taught independence, leadership, ambition to learn by themselves and a moral code with positive goals, which impacts the society positively,” she said.
Oyin-Adejobi said the organisations are still relevant though the level of participation keeps dropping over the years.
“Scouting helps youth develop academic skills, self-confidence, ethics, leadership and citizenship skills that influence their adult lives”.
She stressed the need to create awareness about the activities of scouts, saying they should not only be remembered in emergency situations.
Scouts should not only be prominent in government schools but they should also be included in uniformed clubs and societies in private schools.
“Private sector participation will help advance scouting and further cement their popularity. Buying uniforms, boots and the likes for children who are interested can go a long way in motivating those willing to actively participate in these paramilitary clubs.
“The Federal Government should automatically employ scouts with outstanding leadership traits in security agencies. This will be the greatest motivating factor for the scouts. It will also encourage them to do more.”
The Pro-President of Ondo State Scout Council, Olusoga Atibioke, has also retreated the organisation’s role in building a viable society, describing it as the greatest asset in the country.
Atibioke reminded us that the body was formed to promote unity and mental co-existence, which are critical to the survival, growth and development of the nation.
“I believe strongly that scouts are the bedrock of societal development and if a scout is educated, trained and empowered, he or she is built; and if you build the scouts, you build a nation.”
He stressed that the organisation is set to develop new curricula for the development of the Youths as future leaders of Nigeria.
Mrs Ansa Uko was five years old when she joined the Brownie club in her school where she was taught how to respect parents and help out with the house chores.
The Girls Guides was founded in England in 1910 as a separate female organisation of the Boys Scouts movement, moved into Nigeria on September 16, 1919, and started at Methodist Girls High School, Yaba.
For Uko, guiding is a way of life. “Our motto: Three basic things- obedience to God and your country, help other people by giving service and to obey the Guides’ laws. So when a child is brought up in that way, we grow up to be what we want to be. You cannot push her to the wall to do what is wrong because of the discipline; it exposes us to service and not to be selfish and we were taught how to give service. At the brownies, even at five, we were taught to help mummy to wash her handkerchief and much more.”
According to her, guiding, for those who keep at it, is only stopped when age catches up. “Volunteerism is from the heart. We continued; we went to school, went to universities, got married and we are still guiding. The only problem we have now is that many people find it difficult to volunteer because they are not getting any reward from it. We believe giving this kind of service makes us what we are today, as our leaders in Girls Guide are never corrupt.
According to her, Guiding educationally exposes children to crowds, thus building their confidence, and skills acquisition and teaching them how to live out of doors via camping.”
Dr Praise Adeolu Adeyemo was privileged to attend a primary school that had a Guider. “When l got to secondary school, there was no Guider in my school for four to five years, but l still had friends from primary school who were attending schools with Guiders, so, l kept tabs on them and went to camps with them and all that. My school eventually got a Guide because the government had made it compulsory in every school. But the point l am trying to make is, when there was no presence in my school, I was still able to attend camps and made myself the only Guider in that school. I even finished secondary school before l became a Ranger, then a young Guider. I would say that it still boils down to interest.”
For Nigeria to become a better country in her generation she stressed the need for young women and girls to develop their potential, making them know their values and take action to change the world.