BY SANDRA IJEOMA OKOYE
If there is any news that concerns the Lagos State Government and parents and guardians that is at the moment trending on traditional and social media spaces, it is unarguably the alleged sexual violence case involving students of Chrisland School which occurred in Dubai, United Arab Emirates to which the State government said its attention has been drawn to it.
As partly stated by the state government in a Press Release made available to pressmen today, “It is pertinent to note that all allegations are being investigated by the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including Ministry of Education, Office of Education Quality Assurance, Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Ministry of Justice and the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency, whilst the criminal allegations have been escalated to the Commissioner of Police.
“In view of the allegations, we are committed to ensuring that adequate medical and psycho social support is provided.
“This is to reassure members of the public of the State Government’s commitment to safety and child protection, especially in ensuring that all child-centred institutions within the state, formulate and implement policies and systems that are compliant with the Executive Order (NO.EO/AA08 of 2016), Lagos State Safeguarding and Child Protection Program.
“We also use this medium to remind the general public that any person who engages in any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child, commits an offence and is liable to custodial sentence of fourteen (14) years. This includes “producing, distributing, receiving, or possessing an image of child pornography”.
The government warned that “In the meantime, all Chrisland schools within Lagos State are hereby closed, pending further investigations”.
Permit me to say that the decision made by the state government to close down Chrisland schools within Lagos State inspired me to express this view.
At this point in time, it would be recalled that a similar action was taken following the death of Sylvester Oromomi who was reportedly beaten and forced to drink a poisonous substance allegedly by some bullying seniors. The government at the time ordered the indefinite closure of Dowen College on December 3, 2021 after the parents and extended family members of the 12-year old Oromoni Junior, insisted their son was murdered by seniors at the school.
Students who were at the time writing their first semester examinations were asked to vacate the school abruptly without completing their examinations. But reports said the school deployed technology to allow the student to complete their examination online.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient to say that in as much as the government took its decisions as it has the onus to do so, it is expedient to say that its actions in both cases is like plucking the leaves and branches of a diseased tree instead of going deep down to the root of the tree to ascertain what’s really the problem.
At this juncture, it may not be wrong to opine that efforts been made over the years by Lagos State Government towards instilling discipline in private and public secondary schools have unarguably remained fruitless, if not for anything, the rate at which acts of indiscipline are being recorded in private and public secondary schools such as being mentioned in this context, speaks volume.
The past few years have seen the waging of a relentless ‘war’ on various acts of indiscipline, including absenteeism, truancy, shabby dressing, insubordination, fighting, gangsterism, etc., particularly in Lagos public schools (primary and secondary). Private school owners have equally taken up the gauntlet by enunciating a number of measures, including expulsion of students/pupils for various acts of indiscipline.
In fact, authorities in the educational sector of the state have had to embark on war against indiscipline. Apart from taking the ‘war’ to the schools, which involves measures such as lock-out of late comers and carrying out of various sanctions, including caning or suspension, a large number of students have over the years been expelled from schools for gross acts of indiscipline.
However, it appears the causes of indiscipline in secondary schools, particularly in private-owned secondary schools are not being looked into.
There is no denying the fact that causes of indiscipline in secondary schools are yet to be taken cognisance of by the government, school authorities, teachers and parents. In fact, the glitches cut across loss of respect for teachers, lack of parental upbringing, inadequate supervision by government, and quest by school management to make their schools appear to be the best by ensuring that anything that is capable of denting the school image is shielded from public knowledge.
If not for the quest for good image for Chrisland School, why did it take quite long, since March 2022, before silence was broken on the allegations of concealing the case of the 10-year-old female student who was abused and filmed by her colleagues?
It was gathered that the management made the reprehensible act public knowledgeafter the school authority was called out for purposely sweeping under the carpet the incident which had the female student taken in turns by a number of male students.
Nowadays, the cause of indiscipline found in students is loss of respect for the teachers. The teachers are not getting that much respect from students as they usually get in time past. For this, teachers alone cannot be blamed. Nigerians have witnessed cases where teachers who made attempt to discipline students are literarily oppressed, intimidated, and threatened by parents of erring students.
Closely related to the foregoing view are parents who barely have time for their children/wards in secondary schools as they go out at wee hours of the day for their various businesses only to come back home late at night.
Without resort to blaming the government for the rot that has in the recent time characterize both private and public schools, it is pertinent to note that relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the state, including the Ministry of Education, Office of Education Quality Assurance, Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Ministry of Justice and the Lagos State are not proactively harnessed by the State to get to ensure that the indiscipline that now characterizes secondary schools in the state is tackled headlong.