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How parents, teachers influence children’s education, social activities


Every parent’s wish is for their children to be the best in their endeavours. This is expected, but how the children achieve such feat becomes a source of worry, considering the parents’ meddlesomeness and influence in their children’s education.

This comes in different forms including influencing their academic performances and positions such as class or school prefects, monitors and others. This is fast becoming the tradition and it is a dangerous trend.

There are cases where parents bribe teachers to give their children good grades and positions. Some school proprietors connive with parents and teachers to make special arrangement for their children to write examinations with the assistance of outsiders to enable them perform well. Sometimes, parents even arrange ‘special centres’ for the wards. This is the common trend these days.

Meanwhile, being a nerd is not a basis of becoming a leader, but it could be a plus where the other essential factors are present. At the commencement of every academic session, every school appoints a head boy and a head girl to lead the students.

Head boys and girls are usually lead their schools’ team to inter-school events and therefore, should be able to make public speeches. The aim is to choose pupils and students who exemplify the mission and vision statement of the school.

To be selected, appointed or elected, the head boy or girl must have contributed to different aspects of school life, be seen to be reliable and helpful and should be good in their academics. They should show that they are successful learners, confident individuals and responsible students with a sense of pride in whatever they do.

As good ambassadors, they uphold the school rules and learning charter and help to ensure that other students do the same by representing the schools well in and around the community.

Also, as part of their responsibilities and privileges, they act as good example and role models to other students through their attitude, cleanliness of their uniforms, punctuality, attendance and general conduct.

The days when students were given the responsibilities of a head boy or girl based on academic performance are gone. In some schools, the students or the head teacher may elect a head boy or girl from among the pupils and students.

In most schools today, particularly the private ones, selection of head boy or girl have taken a new dimension, as the processes now look like a typical election in the national scene.

As it obtains in the tertiary institutions, every nooks and crannies of the universities and their immediate community are usually awash with campaign posters, banners, billboards, as well as leaflets bearing aspirants photographs and campaign slogans.

For some parents, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the new development, as they argue that the development would help instill the spirit of healthy competition, the idea of losing or winning in a contest, how to be magnanimous in victory and how to be good losers.

Speaking on the issue, a parent, Dr. Jaiyeoba Folusho Ilesanmi, who is also a psychologist and senior lecturer in the department of Public Administration and Industrial Relations and Personnel Management, Lagos State University, Ojo, there is nothing wrong with the development.

“It is part of the extra-curricular activities aimed at developing good leadership. It helps to model the students and open up their minds to what the larger society does. During our time, it was the school management-the principal and the teachers-that select the head boy and or head girl.

“They do this in the developed countries and it is part of what has helped their election processes. Youths do not act in barbaric ways in developed countries because they are used to the system but most Nigerian youths go through their first election process when they get to university and that it is usually as terrible as a national election,” he added.

Jaiyeoba further explained that the election process largely reflects what goes on in the larger society, adding that it is all about leadership training of the students and it helps to prepare them to assume leadership roles in the society in the future.

“It is a predictive of what happens in the future. Often, people coming from that rank to the university usually become students’ union executives and when they graduate, they become political activists and politicians. It has far reaching implications for development,” he stated.

However, those against the development argued that over-zealous rich parents often use the medium to flaunt their wealth in schools by corrupting innocent children and putting pressure on other parents.

“I do not think much funding is required for the electioneering process at these levels. My wife is a school principal and there is a lot of modesty in how the campaigns are run.

“It is usually a social thing and does not require spending much money. It is just a way of canvassing votes from the electorate. However, some parents may bring in their own pattern to the process and we cannot run away from that.

“By and large, the student popularity does not depend on whether he has money or not. Other factors that come into play include the student’s academic performance, social capital —that is, how they are able to move along with their fellow students. This notwithstanding, does not dispute the fact that money also plays some role in the process,” he explained.

Jaiyeoba noted that the society is a reflection of the students just like the students are a reflection of the society. He added that the negative aspect of the development maybe distraction to the student in their academic work. He, however, stressed that if a student is good, he is good and may not necessarily be affected by his participation in other activities.

“I believe having elite youth during election time that understand electoral process will help the country in future. We need to localise the democratic culture, we need to start from the primary school level all the way up. What the authorities should do is set the minimum academic requirement for pupils to contest,” he said.

The only problem some parents have is when they display the campaign posters outside the school gate and walls and all motorists and passersby see it, stressing that the election is meant for the students’ community and not the general public.

Supporting Jaiyeoba’s view, Mrs. Francisca Becon, also said there was absolutely nothing wrong with the development, saying that she wished the trend could be replicated in all schools right from the primary level.

She stressed that the development will instill healthy competition, winning or losing, how to be magnanimous in victory and how to be a good loser.

“When I was in secondary school, our entire prefects were chosen through an election. We even had a manifesto night. The school is even a public school. I don’t think it is any big deal in the development. It is good to teach our pupils electoral ethics and values right from a young age. It is a good development and it helps the children to think and appreciate what leadership entails.

“It is fun because my kids tell me when they go to the kindergarten school to campaign that they tell them things like: ‘If you vote for me, I will give you pencil, eraser, sharpener and other items. They have even memorized the campaign speeches and all that,” she said.

While the development is gradually becoming a norm in most private schools, those against the trend say very soon, public primary and secondary schools would copy it and those who cannot afford the process but are desirous of the position would end up stealing to compete.

They argue that the trend was not developing democracy; but rather, it would pollute the children and create unnecessary and unhealthy rivalry in schools as it catches on. They argued that a poor boy whose parents are not well to do cannot be a school representative.

They further argued that few affluent children started celebrating birthdays in schools and before anyone knew, it other kids’ parents were pressured into celebrating their birthdays in schools.

Babatunde Lawal, an I.T expert, said: “This is so wrong at least for primary school pupils. I remember when I used to teach, I tried this with my primary three pupils. I was speechless when I saw the kids rigging the election; some did multiple voting. You can imagine a class of 30 pupils and number of votes stood at about 40. I had to cancel the election.”

He noted that a class or school president is different from prefect position, adding that when he was in secondary school, they once held election for student representatives but prefects were selected based on merit.

‘I Was A Prefect But My Parents Did Not Influence It’
From Tina Todo, Calabar
Some educationists and parents have blamed parents’ involvement in lobbying for prefect positions and others for their wards in primary and secondary schools on the proliferation of private schools in the country.

While some disagree that the trend only happens in private schools, others attribute it to government policies on the education system.

A teacher at Adim Secondary School in Biase local council of Cross River State, Ogbada Ogbada said most parents lobby their children’s posting to enable them influence the school authorities during examination period.

“I think the way things are going, education is being run as a profit-making venture, which is not suppose to be. Some government policies have also affected the education system in the country.

“For instance, there was a time when if children did well in their examinations, government would sanction the school and if they perform too bad, the school would still be sanctioned.

“That kind of policy has no headway because it could make teachers and parents to compromise the children’s future. But if government could maintain a standard, parents’ involvement would be reduced to the barest minimum.

“So, government has a very big role to play in this respect and parents too should know that the reason they send their wards to school is to give them a future in which they can be independent.

“I think the government too has part of the blame for allowing private schools to spring up here and there. If all schools were to be public schools, they would be able to checkmate such tendency. But I am not ruling out the fact that such thing does not happen in public schools but the possibility is minimal,” he said.

On his part, a parent, Mr. Nicholas Obun, said parents who lobby for positions for their children do not wish them well, noting that such positions should be based on merit.

While recalling his days in school, he said: “I was a prefect during my days in school and my parents did not in any way influence my selection. It was based on merit or academic performance and I also believe that equally prepared me for the future. So, if parents are involved in that, it shows we are getting it wrong.

“For instance, if a child is not academically strong and he is saddled with additional responsibilities, you realise that it will amount to failure.

“You have to prepare your child for tomorrow. Most parents ordinarily influence the academic activities of their children, and at the end of the day, they end up performing badly.

Describing it as a dangerous trend in the education system, Obun said: “For a child, proper discipline should begin from the home and school. They should posses both character and learning so parents should not in any way influence the academic progress of their wards.”

On the way forward, he said: “Parents should be able to prepare their children to face the challenges that lie ahead of them.

“And again I won’t want us to totally exonerate the public schools and shift the blame to private schools. If you go that way, we will get it all wrong. The blame is like a double-edged sword. First, let me start with us parents. A breakdown of our social value system is no longer there. Moral education is no more.

“For a child who comes from a home with strong moral values, they should be able to emulate but when the moral values are bastardised, the child will believe that even if he fails, the father will come and bail him out.

“Then, government also has huge part of the blame because the poverty level is quite high. Parents would want to value the little money they are getting and won’t want their child to fail. So, they tend to get involved one way or the other.”

‘Parrents’ Meddlesomeness Is A Dangerous Trend That Needs To Be Addressed’
From Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos
The involvement of parents in their children’s school activities, which include influencing positions such as class monitor and prefects, is dangerous.

Speaking on the ugly trend, Falilat Abdullahi, a student of Standard Secondary School, Okene, Kogi State, said: “In our school, the best students are usually selected from their classes by their teachers. They are all taken to the principal’s office for an oral test.

“While there, they will be tested in both learning and character. They will be asked questions on how they will deal with fellow students, late comers and whether they will listen to genuine complaints of late comers.”

Abdullahi added: “Their behaviour, generally towards teachers, whether they will be proud of their positions to the extent that they begin to abuse the positions, whether they will become bullies, how they will use their discretion to judge some issues especially when the teachers are not around and so on.

“Then, the principal, vice principals and other senior teachers will listen to the students’ responses. At the end, the students are asked to go back to their classes and after that they put their heads together and select the best students with academic performance and leadership qualities.

Their names will now be announced at the Assembly Hall to the cheers and admiration of other students.”

A housewife who has just finished her secondary education said: “During our time, there was nothing like lobbying or parents’ interference. It was only the best students that were chosen to be either class monitors or senior prefects. There was no parental influence in their selection.

“You know, some of our parents are illiterates who don’t even know what class monitor or head boys or girls or prefects mean. So, there was no interference. There was no way for the parents to come in.”

But John Sule, a student of Baptist High School, Jos, said there is indirect parental influence of the choice of prefects.

“For example, the senior students are aware of the selection, especially the grown up girls. There is politics in the selection of school leadership. Students and teachers have politicised the selection process. Female students who believe that some teachers are influential and close to the principal usually lobby such teachers to be part of the selection team.

“Some of them offer their bodies to some of the teachers to assist them. These female students even fight one another, especially when they are struggling for the same position. But the male students don’t have anything to offer and so, they don’t lobby for any post. They just resign themselves to fate.”

A father and a political affairs analyst, Ishaku Joshua, said the influence of parents in that direction is very insignificant because every parent will want his or her wards to concentration fully on their academic work.

“Such appointed school prefects will devote much time in controlling or disciplining other students and this is not part of the class work. But if the student now tells the parents at home that he or she has been appointed prefect, the parents are joyous because they believe that the student will be popular and will now be a middleman between the school and the students.

“Sometimes, the influence comes from the school authorities by appointing some students class representatives or prefects as the case may be. Politics has crept into the selection of school prefects.”

On the way forward, Joshua said parents should be discouraged from any form of influence, adding that teachers too should be apolitical in the process. He pointed out that teachers should only influence on the side of transparency and academic performance.

He maintained that class or school positions are very necessary because where teachers are unavoidably absent, the prefects or class monitors should take over.

“It is very necessary that there should be student leaders to take charge in the absence of teachers,” he added.

Morals, Positive Value System Must Be Entrenched In Homes 
From Oluwaseun Akingboye, Akure
Aribigbola Oluwapamilerin recounted her unpleasant experiences as a pupil over 20 years ago and how she reacted to the undue influence of parents on the activities of their wards in some schools.

This, she said, became so conspicuous that parents who could afford to send their children to private schools tele-guided them and influenced the teachers to favour them.

Aribigbola, who however, noted that it was not the same in her school, which was located in the heart of Akure, said most of her friends in other schools complained bitterly about the ugly trend and this caused great enmity among the students.

“It was common in private schools, especially those that were struggling and looked up to some influential parents for support financially and otherwise. In appreciation for their assistance, they gave their children preferential treatments.

“Even in some schools till today, teachers dare not flog some students despite their gross misconduct and undisciplined tendencies because their parents are very influential in the society and help the school financialy.”

Aribigbola, who is the Executive Director of Apex Creativity Duties, disclosed that the trend has worsened and more pronounced in public schools where there are some ‘special’ students who act above the rules and regulations of the schools.

A classroom teacher in one of the private schools in Owo, Adewale Ogundele, confirmed the incident, lamenting that the attitude makes some students to be unruly and defiant to school rules and regulations.

“There was a day I asked a student to kneel down and made her go through some punitive and corrective actions, but the proprietor barged in and order the student to stand up. He later reprimanded me for punishing the errant student, saying the parent might withdraw her from the school.”

An alumnus of a popular public secondary school in Ondo State also decried the ugly trend in the education system.

The association, according to him, gives cash prize of N40000 to the best student in Mathematics every year to motivate and encourage academic excellence among the students.

During the last reunion, they had got the name of the best Mathematics student from the principal, but the teachers presented a different candidate on the day the association wanted to give the prize.

He lamented that the ugly incident caused a lot of uproar that parents, interest groups and some communities intervened and threatened to cause crises in the school.

The proprietress of Emplace College in Akure, Dr. Damilola Oshin, described the undue influence of parents and guardians in the schools not only as dangerous to the system but also a reflection of the rot in the larger society.

According to her, it was highly unethical and disheartening that the administrator of such sensitive sector could be bought over and allowed parents to lower the educational standard.

Oshin blamed the school management for tolerating and indulging parents in such inglorious acts, strongly condemning the untoward implications on the pupils.

She affirmed that the trend in some schools posed huge threats to the transformation of the students and academic excellence, which she noted, would also have negative effects on the students’ latent qualities and potential.

“Such wild decisions by parents and indulgence by any school management would never help the students. For how long would they continue to buy everything for the students? One day, they will be on their own and the parents won’t be there,” she said.

She also added that the act would undermine the capacity of the students, dissipating their confidence and ability to handle challenges that would bring out the best in them.

Education, she maintained, go beyond the teaching and learning activities in the four corners of the classroom, declaring that other extracurricular events help to mould responsible leaders that are tested in characters, values, learning and innovation.

The proprietress, whose SSS2 student, Goodluck Bolaji Samuel, scored 329 aggregate score in the last Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination to emerge best candidate in the state, urged parents to desist from the act.

Oshin, who presented a brand new HP laptop as gift to the student, urged schools management to build up strong defence against any external influence, so as to maximally reward hard work and excellence among the students.

The President of Old Students Association of Stella Maris College (SMC), Akure, Samuel Adetuyi, attributed the bad influence to the total breakdown of values and ethics in the society.

Adetuyi, a retired Commissioner of Police, blamed the high level of corruption and other societal vices in the nation on failure on the home front, as typified in the way parents and guardians lobby their wards to be favoured in schools.

Relating the present day education system to what was obtainable some decades ago, he said the government’s take over of schools and incursion of private investors in the system, have infested the system with several crimes evident in the larger society.

He relished the efforts and legacies left behind by SMA missionaries and principals like reverend fathers F. H. Mclalghlin, P. Nelly and Owen Mckenna, who worked so hard to instill undying ethics and positive values in SMC and the students.

He urged government at all levels and stakeholders to support the return of the missionary schools to their owners so as to redeem the falling standard of education in the country and impact positive moral values on the youths for a better future.

“Government should return schools to the missionaries so that the young ones can benefit like we did when we were young and all of us can benefit together,” he said.

Adetuyi, who was among the first set of the secondary schools students established in 1960, tasked parents and guardians to positively complement the roles of the teachers by desisting from negative influences and other acts that could jeopardise academic standard.

Leadership Position Is Based On Merit
From Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt
In Rivers State, class leaders and school prefects are appointed based on merit.

Findings in some secondary and primary schools in Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor and Ikwere local councils showed that positions of class representatives and school prefects are not lobbied, as many have insinuated.

A teacher at St. Andrews State School I, Port Harcourt said character, intelligence, hard work, respectfulness, boldness, neatness were some of the qualities that determine who merits the position.

She described the position as sacred, noting that anyone appointed to occupy the post should act as a representative of the school community and provides a model, which younger pupils aspire to emulate.

A visit to Community Secondary School, Rumuekini, revealed that teachers and outgoing school leaders put their heads together to pick school prefects.

Sometimes, parents play vital role by advising their children to behave well and act appropriately when they are approaching higher classes to enable them get the position.

A teacher in the school, Cletus Woke, told The Guardian that the position was a great honour, as it represented a leadership position, which could provide opportunities for university, apprenticeship, job and scholarship application.

He disclosed that these were some of the reasons some parents and students are usually interested in positions.

“Before one qualifies to be appointed to such position, we consider the punctuality, academic performance, behavior and other attributes like being an outspoken student.”

He said some students agreed with the teachers, stating that leadership positions in schools were given based on academic performance and merit.

A basic five pupil at St. Andrews State School I, Osrere Bellie, said: “School leaders and class prefects are selected based on punctuality, intelligence and good manners.”

Also, Charles Ordu in Community Secondary School, Rumuekini, said:  “In my school, leadership position is based on merit.”



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