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We will miss Children’s Day celebration, lament pupils

By Maria Diamond, Adetayo Adeowo, and Onyinye Ezeilo
23 May 2020   |   4:26 am
No doubt, this year’s Children’s Day celebration, which comes up on Wednesday, May 27, would be somewhat different for the children, as the usual fanfare associated with the day would not be experienced...

No doubt, this year’s Children’s Day celebration, which comes up on Wednesday, May 27, would be somewhat different for the children, as the usual fanfare associated with the day would not be experienced, no thanks to the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ravaging the world and halting most economic, social and academic activities.

Government, both federal and state, in their effort to curtail the spread of the virus, declared a lockdown on key sectors, including education, making all schools to shut down and pupils to study at home online via the virtual learning system to avoid unsettling the academic calendar.

Every year, schools engage in different activities, such as group outing, drama and party, among others, to commemorate the day, while most parents use the occasion to bond with their children/wards and cement their relationships.

The Guardian went to town to feel the pulse of the pupils and children, who lamented how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted their plans for the day and every other thing, listing things they are going to miss, as well as their expectations from the government and their parents as the day approaches.

Michael Adebayo, a Primary 4 pupil of Erolad Group of Schools in Ilasamaja, Lagos, said his school normally celebrated the day by organising a mini-event where all the students participated, each choosing a career or profession and acting as one.

But sadly, such event won’t be held this year because of this coronavirus, which has really ruined some things.

He said: “In my school, we usually have lots of fun during Children’s Day celebration. We are allowed to select the profession of our choice, dress and act like one during the celebration.

“I would like to have fun like we used to have in the past celebration. I really missed school, especially my teacher and my friends.”

Favour Ifeayinchukwu, a 10-year-old Primary 5 pupil of Kinsol Nursery and Primary School in Agodo-Egbe in Alimosho Council described marking the day at home without school activities as “unfortunate.”

She added: “Children’s Day celebration in my school had always been momentous and like most of my classmates, I always looked forward to each year’s special activities. But now, there is absolutely nothing to look forward to this year, just like Easter celebration.

“Everything is on hold and that is unfortunate. We are obviously not going to resume school before the Children’s Day, are we? I often asked my parents when we would resume and they keep saying no one knows.

“The coronavirus situation has deprived me and other children the fun we usually have on Children’s Day.”

For Itunaya Michael, 12, a JSS2 student, every May 27, his school makes arrangement for pupils to go to a certain place for the celebration, after their parents must have paid a certain fee. But this year, his school doesn’t have any such plans.

“I’m hoping my parents would take me and my siblings out to get us something nice. The first few weeks of this lockdown was fun for me, as I stayed home and rested well, while I had the opportunity of spending more time with my family and I also learnt how to bake with my mum and sisters.

“My school didn’t make available any online tutorial for us, so my parents paid for a lesson tutor that comes home three times a week to tutor us to stay current with our academic work,” he told The Guardian.  

Disheartened with shutdown of the schools, Stella Ibifunmilola, a nine-year-old pupil of Redwood Academy School in Ilamoshe Estate, Isolo, said: “I will miss the fun of this year’s Children’s Day. Usually, my school takes us to beautiful fun places each year for the celebration. My mum would buy me new dress for the celebration, but there is no such thing this year.

“Last year, we went to a park and we were given gifts after series of activities. I wore a very beautiful dress that day, but as it is, I will not have the opportunity to even wear my beautiful dress. All my mum does everyday is compel me to read and stops me from playing with our neighbours’ children.

“She also refuses to buy anything I request, as she constantly reminds me of lockdown, even after the lockdown has been relaxed. I miss my friends and teachers. I miss studying for test and examination.

“I pray everyday that God would put an end to coronavirus in Nigeria, so that I can go back to school and my mummy would have money to buy me things, as she used to before all these coronavirus problems,” she stated. 

Tosin Olaseinde, an SS2 student, explained how she has used the lockdown period to understand the meaning of virtual learning, how it works and how she has learnt and focused more on her ability to build up her skills, as she is now good at making people’s hair.

“Before the lockdown, I had been planning to learn how to make people’s hair, but due to school activities, it wasn’t possible, as my parents want me to focus more on my studies.

“But recently, due to the lockdown, I have been able to learn my studies with my skills perfectly with the support of my parents and I am making little money from making people’s hair at a reduced price.

“I plan on saving the money and using it to buy myself a General Certificate Examination (GCE) form after the pandemic,” she said.

Tosin also told The Guardian: “Every May 27, my school would pick students from different classes that would represent the school in the yearly debate competition in celebration of the day and they would be given a prize for participating.

“I miss school, I miss revising the debate topics with my friends, but this period has been profitable for me.”
Ibrahim Bolaji, a Primary Six pupil of Grace Day Nursery and Primary School, wished there was no coronavirus or lockdown, as he missed school, friends and playing football.

“Normally, during the Children’s Day celebration, my school takes us to the Indomie Fan Club party celebration, where we are given lots of gifts and there would be so many competitions. I have learnt new things during this period, as my daddy has taught me how to operate a computer and I have made new friends also.”

Onyeka Eze, a 14-year-old JSS3 student, explained that nothing much has changed for her, as she still goes about her normal routine even during the lockdown.

“The only good thing about the lockdown is that I rested more and I learnt how to make liquid soap with my mum.

“I miss my class and teachers, if not for the lockdown, I ought to have started my junior WAEC, but my parents ensure I read and revise my notebooks daily in preparation for my exams.

“My school doesn’t make any special arrangements for us during the Children’s Day celebration, the only thing I enjoy about the day is the holiday and for the past two months, I have been on a compulsory holiday. So, I don’t see anything different or special about this year day.”

Eight-year-old Primary 5 pupil of Jeed Trinity School, Obi Destiny, said: “Though I don’t attend the Children’s Day celebration organised by my school, but in my church, we are always celebrating it.

“I don’t know if it would be held this year, because of coronavirus.”

For Afusat Ibrahim, a JSS 2 student of Igbo-Owu Secondary School in Mushin, this year’s day would be like any other day to her, because no social gathering or events.

“I really miss school a lot, so I urge the government to please sort out the issue of this pandemic, so that we can go back to school and continue our studies. I am tired of staying at home and running errands, though I learnt something new, like how to make hair and thank God I am progressing.

“I want my parent to support me in whatever I want to become in life. Though they are not educated, but they are not relenting in sending me to school, for which am thankful.

“I also want the government to help make education better and available for all, no matter the status,” she said.

Adekola Awwal, a SS1 student of Matori Senior Grammar School in Mushin, told The Guardian that he has not been reading a lot during this period and was tired of staying at home and wants to go back to school.

He said: “On Children’s Day, we are only given holiday for the celebration and nothing else. Learning at home has not been easy and this pandemic has really affected many students.

“I missed school a lot and won’t hesitate to go back when we are told to do so. Staying at home is very tiring and annoying.”

On his expectations, he said: “As a child, I expect a lot from my parents. I want them to please take my studies seriously and help me reach far in life.

“I urge the government to please help create conducive learning environment for us students, because with the provision of the right learning equipment and facilities, we can do better and make the nation proud.

“My school lacks conducive learning environment, as there are no chair and some of us sit on tires and blocks and even most of the classrooms are uncompleted and not well equipped.

“All these should be rectified before we return back to school, so that we can resume to a conducive learning environment.”