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The need to reintroduce Teacher Training College (3) – To restore falling standard of Education in Nigeria

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(Text of a press statement by Rev. Fr. Louis Nwankwo to mark the 40th anniversary of his priestly ordination.)

Suggestions and solution:

As a way of conclusion, may I humbly suggest:

  1. That since the pre-1970 education system stood the test of time morally and academically we should return to it taking a few good things from the new into the old. Here academic inculturation may be necessary.  The pre-Nigeria/Biafran  education system was more realistic.  It was to the point.  And it was more rewarding hence a return to it with the re-establishment of TTCV is a solution to our problem.
  2. On 19/4/2012, the Federal Government voted much money for the maintenance of NTT, I suggest that government reconsider it’s stand and re-introduce TTC into the system and vote funds of same. Surely TTC is easy to build and maintain.  The old TTCs are available (although dilapidated).  Personnel’s that can handle the colleges are alive and kicking (even as retired men and women).  it is good to make good use of those well trained and qualified teachers now to tutor the young in TTC before they all die.
  3. Teachers should be adequately trained in TTCs to teach in schools beginning with Grade III, Grade II and Grade I as it was before 1970. Teaching without professional, qualified teachers is the major cause of our failure in education; hence down-to-earth training should be given to them in TTCs.
  4. Pupils and students should be made to frequent classes and pay attention with concentration as teaching and learning are in progress. The idea of students studying and learning with their cell phones, radios, calculators and musical instruments must be denounced, except as may be directed by noble teachers, these are not part and parcel of effective teaching and learning students must be made to realize that there is time for everything (Eccles 3:1-23), that is why nobody should rob Peter to satisfy Paul.
  5. I suggest that we return to primary and standard system of education as was before 1970. The so called elementary system must be stopped.
  6. I now make bold to suggest that at 3 years old, a child goes to any approved nursery school. He finishes, all about nursery at 6 years old before he is promoted to primary school courses and does it for two years i.e. Primary I and II.  At the end of this, he is 8 years old.  He is now moved and promoted to standard course classes.  He does it for 6 years i.e. Std. I, II, III – Std. 6.  At the end of this, he is 14 years old and can now go into a secondary school.  All these movement and promotions are dependent on the moral and academic stands of the child.  There is no room for failures or for mass promotion.  If one fails a class, one must be made to repeat the class, no matter parental pressures and influences.
  7. At the end of these courses the students is 19 years old. He is now mature to enter any tertiary institution, if he is a university material.  University programmes are for lectures and research activities.  It is for mature human beings.  All must be educated or must go to school, yes, but all must not necessarily go to the university.  So far, this is another area where Nigerians have misplaced their priorities thinking that all must be university graduates to succeed in life.
  8. For quality education, it is suggested that the government at all levels should re-introduce Higher School Certificate course (HSC). They make for healthy academic competition among students.  That is to say 2 or 3 years senior classes before the university.  This helps for specialization.
  9. Our academic institution must be heavily and well funded by the government, while the managers of such institutions must judiciously utilize such funds for the maintenance and development of institutions. Serious efforts coupled with resourcefulness must be applied for proper rehabilitation of dilapidated structure around.  Teachers should be well paid, paid better and higher than Nigerian politicians.  Governments must stop breach of contracts with teachers.
  10. The present system of 6-3-3-4 is of no use in Nigeria. The system was brought in without proper and adequate plans, hence it grossly failed.  See No. 6 in this work for its re-placement that is to say 6-2-5 is our choice for the school system.
  11. Our school calendar year especially that of primary and secondary schools should have nothing to do with that of the western countries. Ours should begin in January for example 1st term begins about 8th or 9th January and ends in March or April yearly.  The 2nd term begins in May to August while the 3rd term starts in September and ends in the middle of December annually.  This calendar will help our students be involved in farm works during long vacations.
  12. Promotion examination results should be announced during school assembly. This makes for competition and for the students to know who is who among them.  This also makes for eagerness to study harder.
  13. Let there be reasonable school fees. Truly payment of school fees pushes students into serious studies and involvement.  It makes the students apply themselves to real academic struggles.  In this ways, the saying: “I do not want my school fees to be in vain”, holds water.  Scholarship, (but not any careless award of political free education as some states have done) can be awarded to deserving students and pupils.  Surely un-planed and unconditional free education is not the answer to raise the fallen standard of education.  It rather waters education down the more.  Students will always regard it as an “FOC” business.
  14. Moral education must be included in the school timetable not as a pass-time programme. Moral and academic exercises should be made to go hand-in-hand.  They need to be monitored by qualified and responsible teachers.  This is better executed in schools with dormitory system.  Therefore more schools and colleges with dormitory facilities should be built.
  15. Teachers should be well motivated and be paid their salaries and benefits regularly as at when due. Undue politics must be avoided in handling teachers’ problems to avoid strikes.  Their pensions and retirement benefits should be given to them as they retire without loss of months; hence it is necessary to give the MOE at least 3 months notice before retiring.
  16. On their part, trained teachers should know that they are professionals who are called to a rewarding duty both here and in heaven. They must be involved and committed to work and educate the young generation.  They must avoid doing any other business like buying/selling while on duty in the school.
  17. The idea and practice of absenting themselves and going to the market rather than to school on their market days must stop. It is counter productive.
  18. Another suggestion is that sincere efforts must not be made on all parts to eliminate or minimize strike tendencies. Strikes will be eliminated if the above suggestion are considered and applied adequately.
  19. Every academic house in this country should have well-equipped and functional library. Just as no mechanic works efficiently without a workshop and no scientist perform and researches without a laboratory, no college worth the name should exist without a modern functional library.
  20. With the government, qualified teachers, parents, the church and students all doing their parts religiously together, the notorious practices e.g. expo, exam mal-practice, sorting out, secret societies, kidnapping, and cultism will be minimized if not eliminated. Collaborative team work is recommended.
  21. For concentration and quality products, I suggest that objective efforts should be in place to equip and maintain our present schools, colleges and universities before opening new ones.  There is no harm in struggling to gain admission into a well-equipped and well-maintained institution for qualitative education.  That consequently results in self-discovery.  Opening up of many more university is not encouraged for it is not desirable.  Finally, I submit that an objective and unbiased study of the above presentation will go a long way in re-securing the fallen standard of education indigence.

As I am celebrating my 40 years as a priest of God, I want to thank God for His numberless mercies unto me, especially for healing me this year.  I am indebted to all Nwankwo’s and friends who came to my rescue.  As a way of advice, and from my pastoral experience, may I humbly advise the church to make sure that our seminaries remain original in word and deed.

This is to make sure that priests who are alta christus are produced, not ‘priests of self’, abrakadaba priests.  It seems to me that ‘tonsure’ of old, can be re-introduced for self dedication and commitment to priesthood.

 

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The Data of Forgiveness

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The Universal Character of Salvation

The most important ingredient in today’s media economy is data. The amount of data available determines how much and how long we can work or play on the internet. Currently, many of the service providers offer unlimited data plans but we know that those “unlimited” plans are not always unlimited. Sometimes, your download speed can get slowed down when you cross a certain point. Today, however, Jesus gives us the divine model of an unlimited plan. It is the unlimited bundle of compassion and forgiveness which never gets slowed downed shut down for maintenance. The theme for this week is that we must learn to forgive without limits no matter the injury committed against us.

In Matthew’s Gospel, today’s teaching on unlimited forgiveness comes after Jesus had told his disciples the parable of the wandering sheep, so it is plausible that some would have wondered among themselves how many times a good shepherd should go after the same sheep if it keeps wandering away. In those days, people believed that forgiveness was limited to three times only – a fourth transgression was not to be forgiven. So, by asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Peter was probably aiming to increase the limit to seven times. And Jesus makes it clear that we are to forgive others, “not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22).That means we must dispense an unlimited data bundle of mercy.

In Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of a debt we could never pay. Sin is an offence against God and a direct rebellion against his authority and creation. The debt of 10,000 talents mentioned in today’s parable symbolizes the magnitude of the offence that sin causes in God’s eyes, but he is always willing to forgive without limits. However, we can easily cut ourselves off from God’s river of mercy when we refuse to forgive others. We end up restraining God’s mercy and putting ourselves under strict justice. To unfold his mercy without compromising his justice, God leaves each person free to choose between the two. If we insist on strict justice when we are offended, we bring God’s strict justice upon ourselves. But if we offer an unlimited bundle of mercy to others, we draw God’s unlimited data of forgiveness upon ourselves.

The secret to forming a forgiving heart lies in recognizing the evil of our sin and the immensity of God’s goodness in forgiving us. Until we see the ugliness of our ingratitude and selfishness, we will never appreciate the generosity of God’s forgiveness. Let us examine ourselves now to see how much forgiveness we are giving. Is there someone we still cannot forgive even after they have expressed sorrow for their actions? Have we judged someone too harshly because of something they said or did that we did not particularly like? How many times have we failed to help somebody because we are still dwelling on an injury that we suffered many years ago? How many times have we treated someone differently based on preconceived notions or stereotypes? These are some of the factors that shackle us like chains and that disrupt the unlimited data of divine grace in our lives. When we close ourselves off to people or dismiss them based on our preconceptions, mistaken judgments, and prejudices, not only do we make them suffer, we suffer as well.

But it does not have to be that way. Jesus came to free us from and the burden of sin and unhappiness. Forgiveness is like mercury, which runs away when it is held tightly in the hand but is preserved by keeping the palm open. When we lose forgiveness, we lose the ability to give and to receive love because love is the foundation of forgiveness. And since God is the foundation of love, whoever refuses to forgive automatically rejects the love of God. This is the essence of today’s parable and it is highlighted by the contrast between what was owed by each man. The wicked slave owed his master some 10000 talents. In gold terms, that is 350 tons and at today’s price, he owed his master USD21.8 billion. This was way more than King Solomon made in a year which was 666 talents of gold or USD1.45 billion in today’s value (cf. I Kings 10:14). So, this unforgiving servant owed his master what no individual could never payback. In contrast, his fellow servant owed him the equivalent of one talent of gold or USD2.1 million; so a man who was forgiven $21.8b could not let go of $2.1m, and his wickedness landed him in the hands of torturers.

Dear friends, forgiveness is an act of compassion which is expressed in the free choice to pardon one another’s shortcomings every day, and to also pardon ourselves for own mistakes Forgiveness transcends the fear of being wounded again; it is a deliberate act in imitation of the redemptive work of Jesus, the advocacy of the Holy Spirit, and the loving kindness of the Father. The whole point of today’s parable is that our Father in heaven will do the same to anyone who refuses to forgive others. Whoever refuses to forgive is doomed to a life of bitterness, and as the ugly trend continues, the person ends up building invisible walls of resentment around themselves, thereby blocking off not just one’s relationships with other people but with God as well. Forgiveness is not just an emotional expression or a sense of righteousness; it means being merciful not only when there is an explanation or apology, or a promise of amendment from the offender, but even when the offence is deliberate, and the offender is adamant. Forgiveness is a precious gift of grace, which does not depend on the worthiness of the receiver. Forgiveness is what we called to do, and the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us in that regard. Amen.

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Imo Deputy Governor’s giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture

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Imo Deputy Governor's giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture
By Joy Opara

The increasing cost of Agricultural products in Imo State in recent times has continued to be a major source of concern to the citizens of the state.

A critical appraisal of the development of Agriculture in this state reveals that successive governments had neglected this major sector of the economy, over three decades now, and this has adversely affected the revenue of government.

In line with the vision of the “shared prosperity” government of the Hope Uzodinma administration, the revolution of agriculture is among its cardinal programmes for which a high powered committee (on agricultural master plan for Imo State) has been set up.
For the purpose of resuscitating all moribund agricultural industries and facilities in the state, it is not surprising that this committee is headed by a world class Professor of Agriculture and Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku.

The need to diversify the economy cannot be over-emphasized. It is a well known fact that there is no better and more sustainable means of diversifying the economy than through agriculture. It would be recalled that after the inauguration of his committee, the deputy governor went into action, first by visiting all moribund agricultural facilities in the state, which included Adapalm in Ohaji/ Egbema LGA, Avutu Poultry farm in Avutu, Obowo LGA, Songhai farms, Okigwe road, Owerri, ADP farms in Nekede, Owerri West. Others are Acharaubo farms in Emekuku, Owerri North, Imo Rubber Plantation in Obiti, Ohaji/ Egbema, amongst others.
Prof. Njoku in one of his speeches during the tour described agriculture as the economic base of most countries of the world. Considering the dwindling oil revenue, he said it should be a source of worry to people of good conscience that the vision of our founding fathers to generate revenue, food security, economic advancement, industrialization, employment and eradication of poverty was destroyed by successive governments.
The Deputy Governor, who not only is acknowledged as one of the greatest professors of Animal Science, a renowned Agriculturist and former Vice Chancellor of a leading University of Agriculture, the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, made it clear that the present government led by Governor Hope Uzodinma is desirous to return agriculture to its former glory.

The Ikeduru-born technocrat and farmer per-excellence said that the 3R Mantra of this administration namely: Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery is a base for making the dream of Imo State as the food basket of the nation come true.

Noting that government is a continuum, the deputy governor promised that his committee will build upon what is already on ground by rehabilitating the ones that could be rehabilitated and bringing in new facilities where necessary to ensure that the passion of the governor towards agricultural revival is achieved.

Meanwhile, in most of the establishments visited by the committee, it was discovered that indigenes of the communities had badly encroached into the lands and converted them to personal use. Investigations by the committee revealed that agents of some past governments in the state connived with the communities to make it possible, for their personal aggrandizement.

The deputy governor, whose humility has become legendary pledged his total support to the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma whom he described as God sent to right all that were done wrong by the previous administrations in the state. He called on all to give this administration the needed support to rewrite the history of Imo State in gold, especially the agricultural sector.

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust
By Christian Uzoukwu

Some years ago, while as a kid, I fell out with my father due to an occasion of sheer disobedience and on that very day, I was given no food and was ultimately battered by hunger. Child abuse includes both acts of commission and omission on the part of parents, guardians as well as care-givers.

These acts have led to a lot of actual and threatened harm meted out on countless number of children. In 2014, the WHO made an estimate of 41,000 children (under the age of 15) that are victims of homicide and other related offences. This estimate, as expounded by this world body is grossly below the real figures due to the views of the society in relation to corporal punishment experienced by children. Girls are always most vulnerable to different forms of child abuse during unrests and in war-thorn territories.

Cases of child abuse can be established in some deadly human vices such as child trafficking, child labour, forced adoption as seen in the one-child policy prevalent in China. In the Asian country, women, by law are only allowed to have one child. Local governments would sometimes allow the woman to give birth and then they would take the baby away stating the mother violated the one child policy. Child traffickers, often paid by the government, would sell the children to orphanages that would arrange international adoptions worth tens of thousands of dollars, turning a profit for the government.

Other striking examples of child abuse are the various forms of violence against the girl-child which involves infanticide, sex-selective abortions, female genital mutilations (FGM), sexual initiation of virgins in some African cultures, breast ironing in some parts of Cameroon – involving the vicious use of hot stones and other tools to flatten the breast tissue of girls who have attained the age of puberty. As if those were not enough, female students are also subject to maltreatments in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is not to talk of recurring kidnapp of female students in some parts of Nigeria, as we saw in the case of Dapchi and Chibok schoolgirls.

Based on simple analysis, child abuse can be defined as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”.

This definition by WHO also falls in line with the definition propounded by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that child abuse are acts of commission. This commission includes “words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child”, and acts of omission (neglect), meaning “the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm.

In Nigeria, most cases of child abuse have become cumbersome due to the fact that these acts of abuses are regarded as mere punishments to unruly young ones and by so doing, should be justified and doesn’t call for any further discussion and/or scrutiny. According to various statistical studies and researches, child abuse is a vast societal cankerworm and has four profound tentacles viz:

Physical Abuse: this involves undue hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, burning, strangling, insertion of pepper into the eyes and pubic regions of children, maltreatments from house-help(s) and seniors at boarding/day schools, suffocating and forcing children to live in unwholesome conditions.

Sexual Abuse also includes persuading a minor into acts of sexual intercourse, exposure of the child’s private parts, production of child-related pornographic contents and actual sexual contacts with children.

Psychological Abuse of children can be seen in cases of excessive scolding, lack of proper attention that children should be receiving from their parents and guardians, destructive criticisms and destruction of a child’s personality.

Neglect of children can also lead to children dropping out of schools, begging/stealing for food and money, lack of proper medical care for minors and realities of children looking like ragamuffins.

Consequently, the causes of child abuse can be judiciously related to sex, age, personal history, societal norms, economic challenges, lack of Rights’ Protection Agencies, parents battling with traits of alcoholism and family size. These causative agents of child abuse can bring untold effects upon the society at large and these effects can be emotional, physical and psychological as the case may be, giving rise to individuals with dissociative lifestyles.

Furthermore, the treatment of individuals who have been malformed with respect to the abuses they experienced abinitio, can be a long process because it involves behavioral therapy and other forms of neoteric therapies. Treatments of psyche-related problems are not just a one-day process due to the long-lasting effects of abuses on various conscious mental activities. It is also noteworthy to point out that, prevention is always better than cure and holding fast to this true reality, entails that agencies who have the responsibility of protecting the rights of children must continue to do the needful which requires proper oversights of parent-child relationships.

To conclude this piece therefore, we must agree that untold hardships have been a great challenge for children especially in Africa and some parts of Asia. Children with long histories of abuses turn out to become societal misfits. To this end we encourage that: Children should be given a free platform to express themselves on many topical issues and issues relating to their existence.

Children should also be allowed to freely ask questions on any issue, no matter, how weird it seems to be.

Governments should make regulations outlawing societal norms and values that might amount to child abuses.

Corporal punishments by parents, guardians and care-givers should be discouraged at all levels, thereby making parents/guardians/care-givers who seem to be incorrigible, to face the full weight of justice enshrined in the law of the land.

Education system (both conventional and unconventional) in Nigeria should be able to train up young ones into becoming critical, analytical and evaluative individuals with a view of defending the vulnerable.

And again, since children are said to be leaders of tomorrow, it is pertinent to note that to secure their future, their present existence must be cherished and protected.

Christian Chimemerem Uzoukwu
08100029867 / 09025760804
Admin Critical Thinkers’ Forum.

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