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June 20, 2018

The morality of sharing money to pupils in Imo (1)

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MIND AND BODY with  Rev. Fr. Vincent E. ArisukwuTwo parents called my line on Monday, April 29 at about 7.30 – 8.00pm to launch a complaint. They said they were calling in from one of the towns in Owerri North LGA. Their complaint was that their children (pupils) in the primary schools were coming back from schools at that time of the day. Reason, they were waiting to receive the 300naira stipend from the governor before going back to their homes. I couldn’t understand that myself but went into some investigations to gather from authoritative sources that the allegations were founded. It was alleged that those who came from the ministry to share the money to the kids came late themselves which warranted the children to wait to collect their share of governor Okorocha’s booty before they could go back at such awkward time. This offered me some materials to reflect upon in relation to the governor’s policy of sharing money to children in primary and secondary schools in Imo State as incentives for studies. Secondary school students are paid 500naira while primary school pupils receive 300naira as stipends periodically.

Undoubtedly, the Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s administration has every good will for children as everyone in Imo has noticed. One principal area where this government has manifested its interest is in her bid to improve the quality of education in the state. The decision to share money to children in schools by his assessment, is one of those strategies and unarguably appears noble to him I beg to take on what the governor thinks are the reasons for sharing this money to little children  one after the other.

Motivation: The idea of giving money to children is  for Gov. Okorocha a source of motivation. Money, as we know is a good friend to all especially children. Every child normally would like to play truancy for lack of proper understanding of the importance of education at that tender stage. To lure the child easily to school, money could thus become a strong source of motivation. When the child remembers that (s)he would receive money from the government, that child becomes motivated towards attending classes even when ordinarily (s)he lacks the interest to do so. This is what is done in the Almajiri schools in the North where students are lured and begged to come to schools. In most cases, they feast and eat in schools daily to make them feel like coming to school especially to be properly entertained and fed.

To make Public Schools attractive: The government has probably become aware of the high competition between public and private schools nowadays. As a result, she has to device more techniques to beat the private school owners to it. Notwithstanding the introduction of free education in public schools, Governor Okorocha needed to take a step further by sharing money to the children to indirectly make them appreciate the need to stay in public schools and even to become advert agents for those in private schools. Since no one shares money to the students in private schools, there is the usual bragging by those in public schools owing to the fact that their schools remain better in terms of taking care of their welfare.

Popularity: Governor Rochas Okorocha has always been a man of the people. He has been a populist governor, one whose existential ideologies have endeared him to the masses. The idea of sharing money to students has made  Owelle a household name even among pupils. Children who receive money from the government alongside free tuition will surely never forget a time when a governor distributed money to them periodically for their personal use. It surely increases his popularity especially among naive children.

A Sense of Love: Over and above other reasons, the governor’s decision to dole out money to children in secondary and primary schools in Imo state could engender a sense of love in the children. Other than their love for the governor, the children in turn feel appreciated since at their level, the best measure for proving one’s love for them is by giving those gifts or money. Governor Okorocha aims at making children in public schools feel he loves them.

Meanwhile, a more critical approach to this practice of sharing money to children in primary and secondary schools in Imo simply shows that it lacks merits by every standard. It is simply an abuse of children. We shall proceed to expose its demerits and so declare the moral implications on both the children and the society at large.

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