HOW CAN STAKEHOLDERS CONTROL THE EPIDEMIC OF IMMORALITY AND VICE AMONG SCHOOL CHILDREN IN NIGERIAN SOCIETY: MAKING A CASE FOR INTEGRAL CHILD EDUCATION

‘Epidemic’ is a biomedical concept that refers to the wide spread of an infectious disease in a defined geographical area, at a given period of time. My thought in this article approaches the Nigerian society from the ‘organismic perspective’. The organic perspective views the Nigerian society as a living organism that has certain functional requirements for it to achieve homeostasis – social equilibrium (or morality level, normalcy, order and stability) that are required for optimum functioning. Childhood and the schooling process constitute central producers of social equilibrium; while agents such as ‘family’ and  ‘education’, represent crucial institutions for the socialization of the child, including the important functions of inculcating morality and virtues. Nevertheless, there seems to be a highly prevalent epidemic that inhibits the realization of social equilibrium, given the spate of immorality and vice among Nigerian school children today. Like the physiological epidemic, which is contagious, through easy spread across vulnerable population, immorality and vice in the Nigerian society is similarly infectious, with high potential for transmission among exposed school children. Unlike the physiological epidemic where there is a rapid stakeholder response (through the ministry of health, special committees, health professionals, awareness creation, etc.) to tame possible fatality or deaths that may arise from the disease, stakeholders seem to be indifferent to the toll and multiplier consequences of immorality and vice among Nigerian school children. This article seeks to highlight the key stakeholders and their strategic roles in controlling the highly prevalent epidemics of immorality and vice among school children in Nigeria.

Who are the stakeholders in the control of immorality and vice among Nigerian school children?

Children spend the bulk of their time in the home and at school. This presupposes that parents at home, and teachers in the school constitute critical stakeholders in the ‘becoming’ of the child. At a higher analytical level, however, the community, state and society (peer group, social media and so forth) are stakeholders critical stakeholders in the life of the child. Reality and experience in a country like Nigeria suggests that important as these stakeholders are, they grossly under-perform their roles. They have so failed, that all hope seems to be bleak in today’s Nigeria. Evidence of this abound in the prevalent incidence of sexual harassment, pornography, cyber-criminality, and life-threatening bullying among school children. These have, increasingly, produced poorer life outcomes for younger generation of adults, indicative of the gravity of dysfunctionality of stakeholders in the formation of school children, which transcends mere academic exercises. Such dysfunctionality are, no doubt, contributory to the mess in which Nigerian children helplessly enmeshed today. A major reason for this is the weak synergy between the stakeholders, a factor that inhibits the holistic formation of the child in morals, virtues, values and the pursuit of excellence.

How can stakeholders control the epidemics of Immorality and Vice among school Children in Nigeria today?

To control the epidemic of immorality and vice among Nigerian school children, stakeholders need to eschew the current stakeholder-independent regime of child upbringing, in which the school, family and other blocs do their respective bit without synergy with other blocs, beyond the PTA meetings.  Stakeholders, necessarily, need to become collaborators and partners in the formation of the child. For every child, there must be a continuous system of synergy comprising stakeholders from across the family and school. They must communicate xonstantly, effectively and efficiently at specified times and/or when deemed necessary by any party, including the child who must be at the centre of everything. This way, the child will be monitored and guided both at home and in school where s/he spends the bulk of formative years. Under no circumstance must the training of the child be ‘contracted’ to the school or teachers. Parents are the primary educators, and they must take the lead.

The proposed system is no rocket science, provided that the relevant training and orientation are given to stakeholders across board. For instance, over the preceding one decade, of course prior to the current hike in the epidemics of vice and immorality among school children, the Institute for work and family integration (IWFI) has developed and delivered solutions in this milieu to schools, by way of strengthening the capacity of schools  to provide holistic formation to the child. The key is: we must first recognize the generational peculiarity and challenge of child-upbringing in this era. Then, develop stakeholders’ capacity, for effective formation of school children, beyond mere parenting. Additionally, parents and teachers alike must become friends, exemplars, mentors and role models. Again, parents and teachers need to be ‘educated-to-date’, as they partner to educate their children whose ‘jet age generation’ cannot be formed by parents or schools who are still in the traditional age. Thus, there is the need to understand the uniqueness of the current generation of children, the individual personality of your child and how to equip them with morals, virtues, and skills to negotiate the challenges of today, even in the midst of governmental and community failure. Stakeholders can rescue the soul of Nigeria from the epidemic of immorality and vice in which school children have been enmeshed today. And this will have monumental impact of workforce, businesses, productivity and society at large.

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