Okwe Obi, Abuja The 2018 budget which was recently passed by the National Assembly saw a drastic reduction in the health and education sectors. For health, N71.11 billion was appropriated as against N252.88 billion in 2017. A little breakdown shows that N6 billion was for strategic joint venture investments in selected tertiary health institutions with…
• At this year’s school-graduating ceremonies, pupils showcase our rich culture as parents share stories of how they waded through flood to take their kids to school
• How you can help your child make the best of this holiday
By Jet Stanley Madu
At the recent graduation ceremony of Ricphe Nursery and Primary School, Okokomaiko, Lagos, the Head Teacher, Mrs. Faith Uzukwu, disclosed that mothers brought their children, strapped on their backs, to write the last promotional exams. This was not because the pupils were still sucking breasts but out of fear that they might get drowned or be washed away by flood if they don’t assist, especially the toddlers, among them. This notwithstanding, the graduation ceremonies witnessed by The Sun Education were quite spectacular and unique in many respects, especially in the showcasing of our cultures.
The complaint about the havoc wreaked by flood during the rainy season was a common one during many of the ceremonies. For instance, at the graduation of Tenderly Gift Nursery and Primary School, Angle Beach Estate, Abule Oshun, Lagos, the school proprietor, Mr. Austine Udunze, bemoaned the level of flooding occasioned by the rains at the tail-end of the session, adding that staff and parents alike rejoiced that none of the 27 kindergarten and primary six graduating students or their peers was washed away.
He revealed that the school undertook a lot of palliative measures to keep the situation under control, while expressing the hope that government will come in to construct drainages. “Most existing roads lack drainages so the waters flow to nowhere,” he said. “Parents, particularly those with toddlers, brought their children to school with great difficulty. The authorities can carry out some works now to save lives.” He regretted that the current economic situation had tripled the cost of running the school, of books and made it difficult for parents to pay their children’s school fees.
Commenting also on the Herculean task of getting the children to go to school during the rainy season, a parent, Mrs. Rosemary Ibeto, mother of one of the graduating pupils, called on government to find solution to the menace before the school resumes for the new academic session. “We cannot run away from our responsibility of caring for our children,” she pleaded.
Taking kids to school under the rains
At Ricphe School, Uzukwu stated that during the rains, the Universal Crusade Street on which the school is located and adjoining streets were all taken over by flood. According to her, the flood hindered many children from coming to school. She disclosed that mothers had difficult time bringing the few who came.
“But for the fact that the flooding took place during the exam period, classrooms would have been empty,” she said. “So, because of it, many mothers strapped their children on their backs and brought them to write exams. It wasn’t really easy. We will appreciate it if government can construct drainages on all streets in this locality and, in fact, across the nation, to avert perennial flooding and loss of lives.”
Despite the odds, she reported improvement in the children’s academic performance. “One of our achievements was the school’s visit to motherless babies home and installation of marker boards in all our classes,” Uzukwu said. “We thank our parents for their assistance.”
Running from rain during graduation
Master Kelechi Njoku who graduated from Madre Giovanni Rusolillo Schools Ibeku Okwuato, Aboh-Mbaise, Imo State, in a telephone chat, recounted how his school’s graduation was almost marred by downpour. He revealed that the rain which began in the early hours of the graduation day as a drizzle later snowballed into torrential rain, forcing the school and her guests to abandon the well-decorated premises of the school to seek refuge in the school hall which barely accommodated the crowd of guests in attendance. All the same, the students were, among other activities, able to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Igbo, in their traditional attires.
Njoku disclosed that due to the good network of roads and drainages built by former Speaker, Federal House of Representative, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, flooding posed no challenge to pupils of the school.
Reviewing Nigeria’s decaying education system
At Deeper Life High School, located on Kilometre 42, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, flooding is also not an issue. Rather the Education Secretary, Mrs. Thelma Malaka, want to see students of this era go out and reform their world. She maintained that to effect positive turnaround in Nigeria’s decaying education system, education authorities must instil discipline in the system and make God’s word a watchword. “Our value system should be re-examined. If we do that, things will be okay,” she said.
She praised the principal, Pastor Ademolu Olufemi, for his efforts to place the school in an enviable position within a very short period of existence. The principal, in his speech, charged the graduating students to be worthy ambassadors of the school and not to relent in their efforts to transform their world.
One of the high points of the ceremony was the commissioning, by the Education Secretary, of chess playground executed by the Class of 2016/2017. The graduating set of students printed their names on the sands of time with the legacy they left behind.
The Deeper Life High School example
The out-going Head Girl, Ahulor Goodness, explained that the choice to build the chess playground was borne out of the fact that “we participate not only in academics. This is so because as God said through Paul the Apostle, He wishes that we prosper even as our soul prospers. We are to prosper spiritually, academically and physically. So, we decided to establish something that would task us mentally, physically and allow us have group conversation because chess is a group game. And, to keep us happy.”
A parent, Mrs. Magdalene Alioghena, describes sports as a good complement of academics. She advised parents to keep their wards positively engaged during this holiday. “July to September is such long period,” she said. “If Nigeria is good, students would get vacation jobs or acquire practical knowledge to keep them away from petty crimes. But since this is not so, let’s explore sports to keep them busy this holiday. Many of these students may turn out great sportsmen and women.”
Making the best of the holiday
She advised parents on the need to discover their children’s innate talent, saying that, “this is the time to discover your children and wards. Take them to the stadium, playgrounds and parks this holiday. I have a friend whose son travelled overseas to play football.”
Another parent, Lady Ngozi Amadi, spoke on the need for government to provide students with holiday jobs to help keep them out of juvenile delinquencies. “This is done in decent climes where public funds are not embezzled by the few in power,” she said. “And the rate of crime in such countries are steadily on the decline.”
Writing and launching a book
Another memorable moment was the launch of a book by one of the graduating students, Oluboh Oghene Sofia. Entitled: Black: The New Beauty, the young lady said she conceived the idea from a movie on racism she had watched some years ago. She recalled that the film was a touching story of a black guy who was killed in America by white police officers for the mere fact that he was black. From what she told this reporter in a chat, she wishes to fight racism with the work.
“I felt that if people watched movies and they see that, someone can also read a book and say, racism is not what we want,” she said. “Racism should not be in our world today.”