Boys Scout and Girls Guide had been associations that were held in high esteems in the past because of their contributions in taking off the minds of youths away from negative attitudes and other social vices. But it seems the interest in both associations is fast dwindling. Kehinde Ajobiewe writes on what might be the cause.
Though there are many movements and associations that provide avenues for personal and social development for young people, the Boys Scout and Girls Guide have mostly been held in high esteem. Scouting was founded in the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria in 1915, and Nigeria became a member of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement in 1961.
Scout groups were created for the dependents of British citizens living in the country. Shortly after, local boys were permitted to be Scouts. Immediately after independence in 1960 the Scout movement grew as the programme was heavily promoted.
The Nigerian Girls Guide Association, a parallel movement was founded in 1919, and became a full member of the World Association of Girls Guide and Girl Scouts in 1966.
Both associations strive towards inculcating in their members knowledge, skills and life lessons to help them mature and succeed as they grow up. Boys scout and girls guide emphasize good living and positive attitude. “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, brave, clean and reverent.
They are often involved in churches and various community organizations with efforts to help the homeless, encourage public safety and provide first aid in case of disasters.
They were seen as the pride of the nation, and parents were usually eager to enroll their children in the associations because of the moral supports they provided for youths.
But it is quite sad that both private and public schools are more concerned with extorting money from students through school fees rather than introducing associations that may help equip them with basic trainings that will make them become more disciplined.
A look around the primary and secondary schools within the country shows that youths no longer have interest in joining any of the voluntary organizations. They prefer to watch ‘Ben Ten’, African Magic and stay on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook all day, rather than engaging in things that can help build their behavioral patterns.
Most of the efforts expended towards achieving this goal in the past have been eroded while many youths no longer have regards to decency they took to vices such as prostitution, stealing and killing. Even where these organizations exist, many youths are reluctant to join in spite of efforts to recruit new members.
Mr. Auwal Ibrahim Musa, a social commentator, said youths are no longer interested in Boys Scout and Girls Guide because of the decadence that exists in our society.
According to him: “People are more interested in how to make money, the moral up-bringing and discipline at all levels have collapsed, our value system has declined and that is why you see children and young people who have come out of school not having any interest outside seeing those people who are looting and stealing public fund to also be part of them.
Nowadays people have become so materialistic, nothing is really being done to imbibe discipline. Parents no longer control what their children watch on television.”
Talking about his days as a Scout, he said: “As a young boy in my primary and secondary school days, I was always happy to see how members of Boys Scout used to go for parades during children day ceremony or any occasion. The level of discipline and moral behavior attached to the association were such that if you were a member, the way and manner you behave will be different from other children who did not belong to these organizations.
In other words it was a training institution that helped to bring about discipline, because many of the children who joined such organization in the past ended up joining Army, Police and other Para-military units.”
As a way of bringing back the associations to what they used to be, Ibrahim said: “It is possible to revitalize the associations if you can get the older members to begin to show interest in them and also encourage primary and secondary schools to begin to set up these organizations as it were in the past. We must see Boys Scout and Girls Guide as attempt to inculcate discipline, consciousness, sense of responsibility, patriotism, into the youths.
“I believe if we can revitalize our educational system especially at the primary and secondary levels, we will be able to bring back the interest in these associations, so as to keep our children busy with good things happening, to keep their minds off things such as African Magic and other social vices.”
Similarly, Mr.Emmanuel Onwubiko, a former scout and activist, lamented on the declining interest in both the Boys Scout and Girls Guide by young people, stressing that school authorities are more preoccupied with extorting money from students rather them helping them develop morally and otherwise.
“The interest is dwindling especially in Nigeria because a lot of things in this country have also collapsed. Like the idea of school sports, it is no longer very common, in those days there used to be competitions among schools at all levels.
It is as if the school administrators now pay less emphasis on the formation of Boys Scout and Girls Guide, they don’t encourage the students to embark on some extra-moral exercises like these, school administrators are no longer concerned about how their students can become disciplined members of the society.
They are more or less concerned about what they can get in terms of fees they impose on their students; some have turned the students into slaves that work on their personal farms.”
He also added that membership of the associations was made mandatory in both primary and secondary schools in the 80s’.” It’s either you are Boys Scout, Girls Guide or Man of War to take you far away from cultism, but it appears the emergence of cultism at the levels of secondary school and university has contributed in dampening the spirit of students joining these associations.
This is because members of these associations are now regarded as weaklings and unserious,” he added.
Onwubiko, however, opined that the ministry of education in different states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory must go back to the drawing board and work out measures and strategies on how to bring back the Boys Scout and Girls Guide movements in the primary and secondary schools system.