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ANCOPSS : A wake up call

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If there’s any group that can make much difference if a general reform of Nigeria’s youth is to be accomplished, it’s none other than the All Nigeria’ Confederation Of Principal of Secondary schools, ANCOPSS. The youth are today caught up in a wave of unprecedented and generally disturbing attitudes, and in a way, a silent guilty verdict points at a particular direction where ANCOPPSS  holds sway perhaps in conjunction with its primary schools counterparts, Association of Primary Schools Head Teachers of Nigeria, AOPSHTON. What is more, so many years of sitting on the fence and failure to take the bull by the horn have resulted in a situation where schools now exist without any meaningful impact on supposed learners and uncouth school leavers now pose a great threat to the society. Maybe a little sensitization is all that is required as a wake up call. The general comportment of supposed learners inside and outside the school compound does not seem to reflect any impartation of knowledge. Indecent and utterly poor appearance, preponderance of foul language and antisocial activities, and general irresponsible disposition all point at laxities that need to be addressed.

Accepted that inconsistent government policies, constant official distractions and insufficient funding are at the root of the predicaments facing schools, there’s however no way anyone who has studied the situation very closely can rule out nonchalance and inadequate commitment on the part of school heads and teachers as contributory factors. The posture displayed by many people at the helm of affairs in most schools is that of indifference as long as salary payment continues, and if there’s ever going to be any positive change, it must start with a paradym shift. Teaching is a profession of great sacrifice, and whoever finds himself or herself in that sector must either accept that reality or quit. Right from inception, teachers have been known to give all without any commensurate remuneration. That teachers reward is said to be in heaven is an affirmation that whereas teachers are expected to give their best every time, they are not to look for any earthly rewards or immediate compensation. So turning a blind eye to whatever happens in the excuse of inadequate welfare packages is tantamount to going inside rain and then complaining of getting wet.

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Teachers reward being in heaven is even just a paradox urging those involved to keep going without any backward glance. In reality, those who keep to the popular dictum will sooner or later discover that there’s so much reward in selfless service. There are various stories of teachers who were uplifted to a level they never expected by their former students, something akin to wearing the crown of glory after life’s struggles. It therefore stands to reason that all genuine efforts made to impact lives positively may never go unrewarded. There’s much work to do to salvage the current situation where schools are now no more than breeding ground for hooligans thugs, and cultists. In the past, the term cultism was unheard of in the secondary schools. The fact that they have suddenly reared their ugly heads at that level is a direct indictment on school heads and points at how awry things have gone.

Let school heads assume their rightful place as learners’ most cherished role model by taking proper charge of their domains. This can be done through constant heart-heart talk with those placed in their care. Many of the learners are from troubled backgrounds and homes, and need as much encouragement as possible to keep going. Many of the girls do not know anything about how to keep themselves safe from dangerous neighbors. The rate at which school girls fall easy prey to teenage pregnancy is quite alarming. The reason most of the time is not unconnected with absence of teachers and school heads who would treat school kids as their own. Many of the learners live in squalor with their parents and are oblivious of the fact that a higher life exists other than those they see around them. School heads must therefore never be tired of regular counseling and should also be ready to assume the position of parents to their learners that either have no parents or lack parental care. Even from the little earned every month, sowing a little seed into the lives of indigent learners may yield more dividends in the future than anyone can ever imagine. It is actually when children see their teachers as those truly concerned in their well-being that they feel very safe and are ready to face the future with much optimism.

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Even with meagre resources, school heads must ensure that prize-giving day is resuscitated where learners with the highest scores in each subject are encouraged to put in more effort. Also the issue of inter house sports competition should be viewed with paramount interest so that some of the learners who are gifted in that domain can be discovered and brought to limelight. And then as matter of expediency, school heads must include teaching in their schedule especially where there’s no teacher for the subject they taught before getting duty post. ANCOPPSS congress should be held during the holidays so that principals can be allowed to man their schools properly. All of these meetings today and congress tomorrow represent big distractions for heads of schools. The best way any school head can ensure every teacher takes the job with utmost interest is by taking the lead most convincingly. Even statutorily, there is a clause added to duty post in that regard and the fact that both principals and vice principals have tended to disregard that provision is not helping matters at all. By sitting back in the offices even where there is high shortage of teachers is the main reason why most public schools complexes are nothing but arena of uncontrollable and deafening noise.

Oyewusi, an educationist, wrote from Lagos.

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