Recently, Nigerians woke to the rude shock of a sex scandal involving a 10-year-old female pupil and some male pupils of Chrisland School, Lagos. While many pointed the act to general indiscipline in most Nigerian schools, others blamed poor parenting and growing moral decadence in the society as a result of the use of the social media.
The Chrisland incident is not the only unpleasant story bordering on moral decadence in secondary schools across the country, as over time, with the advent of the social media, a lot of videos have been shared online showing students doing things that are immoral.
In recent times, videos of students being flogged emerged online as a result of getting involved in actions that are not accepted by their schools, such as creating space for sex, attending parties and taking alcohol and going to teachers’ quarters to demand sex.
While the cry for the fallen standard of education continues, it’s important to note that the issue of moral depravity in schools no doubt calls for concern from parents, teachers, government and stakeholders.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Micray Progressive Schools, Lokoja, Kogi State, Michael Sule, said the high level of moral decadence in schools was due to system failure in the home and religious bodies.
Mr Sule said, “Children get their first education from their parents: mother tongue, good behaviour, religious beliefs, etc. But in today’s world most parents don’t have quality time with their children. Some leave the children to house helps who are most times almost the same age with the children.
“Also, both fathers and mothers are outside or on social media for updates; so why won’t their children behave like outsiders?”
On schools discarding the services of guidance and counsellors, Mr Sule said most private primary and secondary schools did not seek their services because they try to reduce the cost of running the schools, and that parents most times were not even ready to pay for that services due to economic challenges.
However, Mr Sule said, “We can address moral depravity by adding to our school curriculum character-based education. Teaching our children good values that will delete those things they learn on social media and from friends.”
An educationist, Opeifa Olasunkanmi, said moral decadence had been gaining ground due to accidental parenting.
Mr Olasunkami said many parents had lost respect for values all in the name of modernity, noting that untrained and manners-bankrupt individuals who accidentally became parents threw discipline away by pampering and overindulgence.
He said, “In trying to throw away the bath water of ‘harsh discipline’, these group of parents have thrown the baby with it. As a result, the society is thrown into the nightmare of decadence and the school is the first testing ground.
“Where parents fail is very difficult for the school to step in. Parents need to take full responsibility and stop abdicating it to educators or schools. If the home inculcates sound moral values in the children, it will be difficult for them to be corrupted anywhere. A failed home is a failed society, and so we need not shy away from this.”
On guidance counselling, he said in the FCT there seemed to be zero tolerance for indiscipline as parents were always involved in any slight issue that pertained their child.
He said, “However, if the counselling unit of the Ministry of Education at either state or federal levels ceases to function optimally, then moral decadence, nonchalant attitude and gross indiscipline will be the order of the day.”
To address it, he said the school surely had a role to play as it needed well trained teachers who embraced empathy as their watchword, and that the school should then be empowered to embark on facilitative discipline and parents’ interference should be checked.
“We need to revisit our curriculum and be sure we are addressing the current needs of modern society. Irrelevance and outdated concepts should be removed and we should reintroduce concepts that can engage the Gen Z and Gen Alpha adequately; equipping them for the emerging world.”
A teacher at Tekhols Schools, Ibadan, Aboderin Omolara Oluwaseun, told Daily Trust that moral decadence in schools lately was traceable to faulty families.
Mr Oluwaseun said, “Don’t forget that the family is the first agent of socialisation; where the child gets to interact first. Thus some families have gotten it wrong due to the bad things they expose the child to such as indecent dressing, vulgar language and sexual acts displayed in front of the children.”
As a result of these, he said they tended to bring what they learnt from their first agent of socialisation, the family, to school.
While blaming parents, especially mothers, in failing in their responsibility of giving their children good moral upbringing, their nonchalant attitude to their child’s all-round development and lack of time, he put a call to all parents to wake up to their fatherly and motherly roles of training and bringing children up in more decent ways.
On the lack of guidance counsellors in schools, he said it was actually contributing to moral decadence because most of the children were at their formative stage where their bad characters could be moulded if properly guided and tailored towards the right moral standards with the help of a counsellor.
He said, “Unfortunately, most of our schools these days do not have this provision; leaving the teacher to do the work of a counselor. The teacher can actually try, but it can’t be compared to the way a professional person in the field will handle the situation.”
Oluwaseun further said issues of moral decadence in schools could be addressed through proper reorientation on why they had to be morally upright, and that teachers should always be models of good character and behaviour.
He said, “More attention should be given to children whose family problems are having toll on their physical and emotional well-being. Let the hands of love be extended to them and you will see them change for good and for better.”
For Oluwabunmi Anani, a teacher with Concordia College, Yola, “It is not possible for a child with proper upbringing to exhibit moral depravity in the school. Hence, the exhibition of decadence in the school is a result of a deeper neglect from the home.”
She said a child who lacked parental bond and discipline took solace in external validation, became undiscerning about what to accept or reject, was not accountable and lacked confidence in his or her parents, hence that the home front should be restored in its role if moral decadence must be curbed.
While confirming that only less than 30 per cent of private schools engaged the services of a guidance counsellor, even in public schools, she said from close observation of the students they taught, it was no longer enough to have the services of a guidance counsellor in school, but also that of a psychologist too, noting that when a psychologist and a guidance counsellor worked in tandem the results would be outstanding.
She further said, “We need more guidance counsellors in our schools. We need more accountability from them too. We also need to provide regular on-the-job training and exposure for them so that they can stay updated, be relevant and productive.”
She advised that parents must be tech-smart! “Your child should never be more tech-savvy or smarter than you. A parent must be ahead of the child when it comes to digital tools.
“Also, a parent’s monitoring antennae must be very active. It must never go on vacation even if your child is the most quiet and responsible. Do not forget there are expertly persuasive predators out there. So, do not let your guard down.”