As the kids return to school
The Christmas and New Year are over and children are back in school for the commencement of second academic term session. As usual, this development, especially considering the closeness of the resumption date to the just concluded Yuletide season, is eliciting challenges and excitement among parents, guardians, teachers and of course, pupils. For parents whose wards particularly attend private schools, the fear of school fees is always the beginning of wisdom. Agonizingly, in most private schools, school fees continue to soar high while most parents and wards take homes remain poor. For those whom for one reason or the other the wards have to change school, the situation becomes more complicated.
School resumption can actually fill the parents with dread and anxiety because of its huge financial implications. This is why some have cultivated the habit of paying ahead of the school resumption to forestall embarrassment. Sadly, many cannot really help the situation because their income is just too low. Consequently, most parents are forced to go cap in hand, begging from friends and relations that are considered better off financially for assistance towards tackling this perennial problem.
Parents and guardians alike apply for all forms of loans, overdraft and so on from banks and other financial institutions in order to meet up with their huge financial demands of educating their wards. The advice is that parents and guardians should not be engrossed in this problem to the extent of contributing to out- of school children phenomenon. If private schools are not affordable, public schools are to a large extent free in most states in Nigeria. In Lagos State, for instance, the government runs an inclusive educational system aim at ensuring all children complete nine years of basic education. No doubt, many kids will find it difficult to get back to the school routine, notwithstanding, it’s just a three weeks holiday. They’ve been accustomed to watching late movies, playing computer games and the social media. Yes, it’s easy for kids to become night owls when they can sleep in the next morning. These habits can make the first week of resumption quite challenging, even for the most motivated student. With holiday festivities over, the kids need help to get back-to-school mode. We have to give them the tools they need to have a ready, set, go attitude in the New Year and academic term.
Before sending him/her back to the classroom, cut on screen time and ease back to a reasonable bedtime. Take inventory of your child’s school supplies. Does he/she need refills on exercise books or pencils? Help him/her return to school with pencils sharpened and notebooks organised. Parents should not send their children to school like a farmer going to farm without farming tools. It is not just right. While it is true that you may have had a PTA meeting just before the break, but then if not, you need to take a moment this month to check in with your ward’s teacher about your child’s progress. It is still early enough in the year to work on behavior or skills that could hold your child back from reaching his/her full potential in his current grades. In achieving this, there is a need to constantly keep the line of communication open. Just like at the start of the year, your child will have to get back into the habit of regular homework. The more often you can make yourself available to help your child, the better.
If we have done our part, then questions can now be asked about what governments and school proprietors have done in preparing for the resumption. We can ask questions like, what has been done regarding problem of inadequate teachers, water and sanitation challenges where they exist. In the area of security, have they cut the overgrown grasses and also do something about collapsed or collapsing school fences. Has anything been done to improve on the quality of public education? How much are governments across the nation concentrating on improving schools until they meet the highest ideals in the current budget and the long run. Despite the overwhelming challenge of school resumption to many parents, it is painful to note that the transporters will usually see this time as a period to add to the pains. It is not a wild assertion; the reality is that transport fares are often hiked throughout the early weeks of resumption. It is another unwelcome tradition. The Okada and Danfo bus business will boom but it is a time everyone must be ready to caution unruly behaviour of transporters in the aspect of zebra crossing, over speeding especially along school roads.
For the philanthropists and few politicians who have made provision of free school bus a project, it is a legacy that will definitely live after them. It’s time for more people to come into the fold because every investment in our children is a sure venture into the future of our dear nation. Meanwhile, parents and guardians alike should continue to do the best they could to ensure that their children are well educated while governments across the country should continue to invest more in education. This is where the future lies.
Musbau is of Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.
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