An “average” Nigerian student may be known through the income/social levels of his parents. We may also throw in their educational background to have a better idea of whom he might be. In most cases, he attends a low-grade state school with a dirty or almost dilapidated environment and structures lacking adequate facilities for its population.
Usually, he also comes from a home where housing is tight and where the supply of basic necessities of life, such as electricity, water, food, clothing, transportation are limited by his parent’s income. In short, he has no conducive environment either at school or at home for any serious academic thought or work.
Now mix this with half-educated parents or those too busy trying to make ends meet and who can barely ask meaningful questions about what is going on in his school. Even where some of them are interested in knowing what is going on they have serious physical or mental fatigues at the end of the day to cope with. So what do they do? They look for “lessons” or “lesson teachers” as a panacea. Usually, such lesson teachers are ill-qualified or unemployed graduates. And no matter their disciplines or areas of specialization they are employed to teach across the board. Subjects usually included are Maths, English, and the Sciences whether at basic or senior levels. These so-called “lessons” are hardly ever coordinated with school’s schemes of work term by term and methods taught are often in conflict with what subject teachers in schools push across to their students. And in some cases, some of these home tutors have been found to get amorous or too friendly with female students under their care.
States have actually set up after-school sessions for their pupils but the situation is not better than having home tutorials. This is not because of lack of ability on the part of subject tutors involved but because of lack of objectives and cohesion on a statewide basis. We understand that some tutors even use them as regular classes for filling gaps created from what should have been regular classes earlier in the day. Most importantly, students’ personal issues are neither identified nor discussed with a view to getting them solved and students are not categorized for application of relevant remedial techniques. What we have are what we call “gbogbo ero” classes.
It’s not as if everything about state schools is bad news. Mark you, they are of different grades. Some are for the gifted and others are called “model” implying they most likely have boarding facilities and more cash supply from the government. There are also some with respectable old-age traditions which they strive to keep. Some of them are even lucky to have old students as principals. Again some students thrive and do well in whatever public school they attend. They are those naturally imbued by God to be “strategic” in their studies no matter the environment they find themselves in. But such students are usually not that many and obviously not “average” and therefore not the focus of this write-up.
In another write-up, we referred to factors affecting virtually all Nigerian students today whether in private or public schools. We quote “Today, we educators must come to terms with the realities of our info-tech age. The methods used in the past to educate us are in the main not relevant to our children. There are too many distractions calling for their attention within the limited time available for studies. Unfortunately, many students are often mistakenly labeled as lazy or lacking needed concentration! But by the time you take out school hours, class assignments, home chores, family socials and commitments, Premier/ Champions Leagues, Facebook/Twitters, Ipod/Ipad, Big Brother, Naija sings, Naija/American idols, X-Factor, Bachelor/Bachelorette, hand-held phones and web roaming one is left to ponder when these children can read seriously or ever take their studies seriously! Above all, we know they have different abilities and competencies. Don’t we?”
So what exactly is the result of all these?. The “average” Nigerian student is actually a victim of his circumstances. He cannot distinguish between schooling and education. He cannot do any “quick mental arithmetic” but will rather refer to his calculator or “hand-held”. He cannot recite 5 lines of poetry or even make an attempt at writing one. Pidgin English is his lingua franca even up to the university level. We all read a few years ago the curious case of an SS3 student who asked the Lagos State House of Assembly allow him address members in pidgin! Even the girls are not better in that respect. Today you cannot win over a girl by constructing a speech of love. They will either laugh at you or throw it into your face and call you names. And what about the art and joy of a good public debate or speech?. For these, we must thank a few individuals and companies making efforts at redeeming the bad situation. But don’t let us even move near their manner of dressing, with pants or uniforms always hanging/sticking out. Poise and table manners? Surely you must be from the moon!
From the quote above it is obvious the advent of technology has not improved what should be called the nicer aspects of grooming. Computers have become more of a distraction than a contribution to their education. Today the web constitute the biggest and best library or reference source for students whose schools are devoid of basic libraries. But what do we have? Young students start learning how to use it for corruption and fraudulent activities from their senior school classes. Above all, e-mails do not encourage the writing of English Language as expected by WAEC and NECO. Now couple this with phones which encourage non-adherence to punctuation rules. Today most songs they like are either in pidgin or a mixture of English and local languages. And at social gatherings, they listen and watch masters of ceremonies doing same or risk not being clapped for or smiled at by the audience. And what about local and foreign television channels? Volumes can be written on how they not only distract but reduce the number of hours available to students for studies.
It is that the “average” Nigerian student is and remains a victim of many sources of internal and external distraction from his place at home through the roads to the school he attends. What all these point to is that he is more schooled about LIFE 101 than academics which many of us refer to as the main purpose for education. It is from this point that we shall suggest solutions for consideration by responsible authorities and relevant agencies in future.