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EDUCATION

Menace Of Admitting Underage Children Into Secondary Schools

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The trend of parents pushing their children to finish their education at tender age is becoming alarming. These days, parents push their children into skipping primary five and six and jumping into the Junior Secondary School. Even in Senior Secondary school, some parents push their children into taking the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) when they are still in their Secondary School 2. The 6-3-3-4 system of education in Nigeria was introduced in 1998. It was designed to bring about functionality in the system by producing graduates that can make use of their heads, hearts and hands (the 3H of education). According to the model, a child will spend six years in primary school, three years in junior secondary school and if he/she is sound academically, the child moves to senior secondary where he/she will spend another three years before proceeding to the university to spend four years.
The 9-3-3-4 system which took off in 2006, mandates nine years continued education made up of six years primary education and three years junior secondary education, three years of senior secondary education and four years of tertiary education.

The system of education is mostly no longer followed by anxious parents who want their children to finish school at a tender age, not minding the consequences. Children below 10 are being admitted to Secondary Schools. The trend is becoming alarming. Speaking to LEADERSHIP, the President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), FCT Wing, Mrs Olushola Bankole noted that if nothing is done, the nation will continuously churn out youths who are not ready to face the world. “Sometimes, you see a child just lost in his thought while in school. Sometimes you see a child who has been doing well at the lower level and at the time they are pushed to the secondary school, they begin to fumble and they are neither here nor there. It is giving us concern,” she said.

Bankole stated that she had witnessed where a child was doing very well in primary school and later pushed into secondary school after his grade four, adding that the child could not cope with the change and started declining in school. “We are beginning to see grade four children that are barely ten, going to secondary school. They skip primary five and six, whole two classes. Sometimes, the parents just see that they pass exam and they just decide to move them. Most of them begin to decline because they exercise so much energy trying to survive in class. Some of them are coming from primary section where there was a class teacher that stayed with them throughout the day and cater for their need, unlike in secondary schools where different teachers come in to teach different subjects. When a teacher finishes a subject, another one is standing at the door to continue with his or her subject. Sometimes, the child does not have a grasp of what the teacher is teaching. In the primary school, the school teacher can decide to take more time to teach on a subject the children didn’t grasp but in secondary school, it is about covering so much and learning very little. If the children didn’t understand what the teacher has taught, it is really a wasted effort,” she said.
She noted that the pressure of meeting up with the stress they were not ready for; sometimes push the children into doing drugs.
“The parents do not know the psychological implication of all these. We are beginning to see children in secondary school taking drugs. We are not talking about heroin and cocaine. We are talking about tramadol and codeine. Parents are not aware of all this. A child that was doing well, in Primary school, and suddenly he isn’t, might be introduce to something that will boost his confidence,” she said.

Bankole explained that her association had been sensitizing its members to refuse to enroll children to classes they are not of age to be and urged for the government to do its part in curbing that challenge. “NAPPS as a body have been sensitizing our members. We have told them to refuse to enroll a child that is not of age to a class, and they should not graduate those who are young simply because they have passed the class. Exam is not the only measure of intelligence. In Nigeria, we are not just looking for people who are intelligent, we are also looking for people who are emotionally intelligent, financial intelligent that can turn the knowledge they have into money and we are not doing any of that,” she said.
For parents, she urged them to only think about the well being of their children. “This spirit of competition is always a killer. Parents are thinking, the child of my neighbor is in this class; let me push my child to that class. They are not even thinking about other things. It isn’t right,” she said.
Some parents who spoke to LEADERSHIP on the trend stated that they see no reason to keep their children in a class they feel they are too good to be, simply because they are too young to move to the next class.

“My child did pretty well in his primary school. That was the reason I decided he could skip primary five and move over to secondary school. I will tell you that my child is doing well in school,” Mrs Denny Emmanuel, a parent said. However, another parent, Mr Victor Oluwale disagrees with her submission. Oluwale stated that he had because of competition with his friend, rushed his son into school, adding that he had regretted his action and had vowed never to do that with his other children. “My son, Mike is a brilliant child. He did very well in his primary school. He was in the same class with my friend’s child. My friend decided that his son was skipping Primary 5, which means taking the Common Entrance Examination in Primary 4. I decided to do the same for my child. In his Secondary School Education, Mike didn’t impress me at all. Though he was passing through, he wasn’t blazing the way he was while in Primary. I just came to realize that I should not have pushed him. Instead of pushing him in the university, I decided to give him one more year. I registered him in the IJMB. I want him to be more matured before heading to the tertiary institution,” he said. Another parent, Gloria Ude stated that the skipping of school helps save money, adding that though she was planning on doing that for her children, she will not hesitate to keep her children back, if they aren’t coping with the classes they are into.

In an interview, a psychologist, Kenny Menyi agreed that most children do not always cope with the stress of skipping classes, adding that though there where extra ordinary children who cope very well, skipping of classes should not be for everyone. “The Primary 5 and 6 classes that most parents pushed their children to skip are very important. There are reasons for this system of education. So why not follow them? These classes help a child to be matured to head to the next phase which is the junior secondary. Maturation is key to excellence. A child must be matured and ready. If he is not, no matter how intelligent he is, he will start dropping or having difficulties in school,” he said. Menyi reiterated that when a child is stressed beyond his or her level, it affects them both physical and emotionally, adding that most children who could not bear to disappoint their parents, resort to examination malpractices, while others go for drugs to boost their confidence. He, therefore urged parents to support their children and allow them finish school the time they should without any pressure.
“We parents should learn to support our children. It is not all about intelligence. We should allow our children to complete their primary school before going to secondary school. It will bring about maturity and excellence in education,” he said.

Speaking to a director in the FCT education Secretariat who refused to disclose his name, he stated that efforts were being made by the territory to ensure that such trend is quashed.
“Now you see children around 8 in Secondary Schools. Many students now write WAEC from SS2 and i think that it has contributed to mass failure in both WAEC and JAMB. Efforts are being made in the territory to curtail all these. There was a time I heard Lagos State said they will clamp down on schools that don’t allow their students to finish
the normal primary school education. Other states need to do so to save our nation of youths who can’t think for themselves,” he said.
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