Venting student discontent through hooliganism

Students on rampage

In this piece, Head, Education Desk, Iyabo Lawal, examines the increasing acts of hooliganism in Nigeria’s secondary schools, the implication to learning, academic performance and moral values

“Kneel down there!” the pupils barked at their teacher. As the hesitant teacher contemplated whether to obey the order of his pupils, he got a smashing slap from behind. He needed no reminder that he should obey the order.

“In the classroom, you think you’re the master,” one of the gang of pupils said. “You can beat students anyhow. You can talk to us anyhow.”

The teacher was released not after being given some strokes of the cane. He was warned not to reveal their identity or else he would be dealt with further. The teacher resigned from the school, reported the case to the school authorities and the police.

The pupils involved in the matter were later dismissed from the school.

Consider another example of hooliganism. It was a riotous scene that greeted the people of Ibadan and Oyo on that day. Mostly in their teens and adolescence, some pupils took to the street destroying everything in their path. With cudgels and other objects in hands, they wreaked havoc on schools across the state. Their violent anger was palpable as some of them tore their school uniforms and used the pieces as bandana. Their menacing countenance sent shivers down the spine of many onlookers.

Teachers and law-abiding pupils fled as they saw them approaching their schools – some scaled the fence to escape the wrath of the unruly children.

This happened in October 2016 in Oyo State. The pupils’ grouse was the announcement by the Abiola Ajimobi administration that the policy of automatic promotion in secondary schools had been cancelled.

In the wake of the violent demonstration, at least 30 pupils were arrested by the state police command; and the closure of Community Secondary School, Iyana Idi-ose; Ojoo High school, Ojoo; Isale Oyo Community High School; Anglican-Methodist Secondary School; and Oba Adeyemi High School.

Today, Nigerian pupils in secondary schools have become more involved in unruly and violent activities.

In 2014, the Ondo State Police Command arrested four secondary school pupils, Lawal Lateef (18); Felix Victor (17); Nsoani Stephen (18); and Festus Francis (18) for bein involved in cultism. They were reported to be pupils of St. Francis High School in Akure –a school reputed for hooliganism.

This year, in September, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Ikeja, arraigned 12 pupils of Oduduwa Junior Secondary School, in Lagos before an Ikeja Chief Magistrate’s Court, for allegedly belonging to a cult.

The minors were arraigned before Mrs B. O. Osunsanmi on a three-count charge of conspiracy and membership of Gangsters Confraternity, an unlawful society.

That same month, 17 pupils were arrested by the police and the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) for being involved in cultism. Among those arrested was a teenager said to be the leader of the group.

The teenager, a Junior Secondary School (JSS III) pupil, was said to be armed with cutlasses and knives during his arrest in preparation for an attack.

Earlier in the month, precisely in May, seven secondary school pupils (from Iponri Senior Senior High School; Akinto Senior High School, Surulere; Stadium High School; and Oloye Comprehensive College, Orile) were arrested and arraigned for hooliganism appear before an Ebute Meta Magistrates’ Court, Lagos.

Speaking on their arrest, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Iponri Police Station, Fesesan Ibrahim, said, “We arrested the students on May 19 for always causing trouble every Friday at Costain, Alaka and Orile areas. The last incident that led to their arrest was the attack of some innocent persons with cutlasses and other dangerous weapons. They were released to their parents on bail, with a view to produce them at the station for prosecution due to their ages.”

The school system is meant to impart knowledge and societal norms in children with a view to making them become responsible members of the larger society as they grow up but current acts of hooliganism are making that difficult to achieve.

Education experts observe that for the last 10 years violence is becoming a norm in schools.

According to them, the level of indiscipline has escalated in schools over the years. Teachers as well as parents express frustration at the number of serious offences reported each week.

Indiscipline implies the lack of self-control, disobedience resulting in blatant violation of rules leading to hooliganism. Not a few think that the current wave of indiscipline among secondary school students is disturbing and therefore calls for immediate intervention.

Among other things, experts noticed too that the influence positive influence teachers wield on pupils have begun to wane drastically. More than ever before, pupils and sometimes even parents hold teachers in derision.

The flipside of this phenomenon is that effective learning and teaching is disrupted. Experts further noted that to remediate the situation all hands must be on deck; teachers, parents and the government must play their roles very well to achieve lasting sanity in public schools to make them conducive for learning and teaching.

As the society has become more permissive than ever before, studies indicate that parents are primarily blamed for the rot in students’ behaviour. A research finding indicates that “the difference associated with different home background influences one’s life which in turn influences one’s behaviour.”

The research also revealed that teachers’ attitude also contributes to indiscipline among secondary school students – stating that schoolchildren are naturally good but teachers corrupt them. In addition, the report noted that teachers ignore students’ problems and complaints whether academic or otherwise.

All the above arguments, thus, prepare the ground for hooliganism in schools.

Policy failure of government is also another factor especially in the areas of providing adequate learning facilities, including basic amenities like chairs and desks and related materials. Sometimes, the pupils can revolt against an increase in their tuition as they know their parents may struggle more to cater for their needs.

Therefore, to stem the rising tide of hooliganism, constant attention must be given to parental influence, teachers’ attitude, and government’s activities.

Education experts urge that the home and the school environment should engender an atmosphere of care, love and understanding; and conducive for learning. Libraries, playgrounds, laboratories, all-year-round sporting and academic competitions must be factored into the learning school calendar to engage the pupils positively.

If these things are put in place, they believe, hooliganism will be drastically reduced if not completely eliminated.

Current economic realities in Nigeria are exerting a huge influence on every citizen – including the young ones. Venting their frustration in the form of hooliganism is an indication that secondary school pupils are feeling the heat of a society that seems to be staggering on the edge, as corruption, public stealing and violence keep increasing.

They have become witnesses to how their parents became victims of a system they worked hard for with no commensurate benefits, public analysts stated.

“The kids’ rebellion isn’t just a matter of deviation. It is a symptom of something more insidious. They have seen how the system treats their adults, their parents and those who struggle to maintain good behaviours. They have seen in the larger context that stealing and being unruly pays more than being civil.

“They have seen how the government rewards militancy, negotiate with terrorists and offer amnesty to kidnappers and herdsmen. They have seen their parents and older ones applaud the very people the society should hold in derision. They understand the hypocritical nuances going on. Does anyone think these kids are fools, that they don’t understand the issues? We need to have a rethink as a people to get these students out of the doldrums,” a public commentator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.



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