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Curbing moral decadence in schools

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A TEACHER in one of the secondary schools in Lagos, who recently returned to her hometown in Anambra State, to spend the holiday with her parents in the village during the just ended long holiday, told a shocking story that motivate this piece.

]According to her, “one morning, after our normal morning assembly, the security man called the attention of the principal of the school to a spot (shack) in the school premises, where the students had converted to a sex joint.

The joint served as a place where male and female students went to have sex, watch pornography and indulge in all manner of immoral acts during and after school hours”. The much the school authority could do after the complaint was to dismantle the shack.

And then, I asked, “does dismantling the shack solve the problem?  The teacher continued, “It is not a new thing that students watch pornography on their mobile phones during classes. Some girls in the school were also involved in the latest scandal regarding the new practice adopted by secondary school girls.

This involves girls taking photographs of their privacy, circulating same among friends, the photographs found their way to the internet and the school authority got hold of it and actually some of our girls were involved in it”.

We have cases of cultism in schools. This is no longer restricted to the universities and other tertiary institutions; it has spread to secondary schools and lately it is said to have gone to the primary schools. The story really left me speechless. My goodness! How did we get here!  How low can we stoop in our society?  Have we suddenly become a morally bankrupt society?

“Moral decadence” in reference to the Oxford Advanced English Dictionary “is falling to the low level of sound morality”. Hence, moral decadence is a situation whereby someone passes from a state of goodness to a lower state by losing qualities, which are considered normal, ethical and desirable.

Moral uprightness means to behave decently and honestly. It can also be seen as relating to the notion of right and wrong and how individuals should behave in a given society. It is something ethical, good, right, proper, honourable, just and principled.

In contrast, decadence is the decline or decay in a society, especially in its morals. It is a state of immorality, corruption, self-indulgence, etc.

The era of a healthy competition among school boys and girls to excel in their academic pursuits seem to be a thing of the past. Examination malpractices are becoming a norm, where lazy students can cunningly make headway in their education.

There have been reports from different sources that parents, teachers as well as officials of examination bodies aid students to cheat during exams. Schools and in fact educators, should bear in mind that education should be all round, one that promotes character and knowledge, focusing on the development of all dimensions of their personality – intellectual, character, spiritual, talents, physical and social. Students should be guided to embrace the values of self-reliance, honesty, diligence, entrepreneurship, self-esteem and ability to face the reality of life.

The rate at which our society is degenerating should worry both the ordinary citizens and the political class in Nigeria. Upon careful analysis, one may adduce that all social problems are moral problems.

If serious efforts are not made, not only by the government but also by individuals, moral values that make for peaceful co-existence, progress and development may be eroded from the society.

The aim of a good education is not only for the mental or intellectual development of the citizens, but also and more importantly, for character building and moral development.

Reacting to this issue, Mrs Onwukwe said “The large chunks of irresponsible parents we have today are clearly responsible for the moral decadence that are common with the children and teenagers all over the world. Every parent you meet talks about the good old days when children were brought up with sound moral and ethical sanctity.

Why is it that parents who are privileged to have received such quality upbringing in times past are the ones bringing up useless, irresponsible, and morally decadent children with little or no regard to societal norms and values? There is something seriously wrong and parents should take the blame for these shameful and troubling failures”.

“It is an irony! The truth is that parents have abdicated their primary responsibility of building up their homes and families in pursuit of wealth, riches, material things, career, pleasure and fun, and have developed all manner of excuses to justify their negligence of this noble duty, these to the detriment of the children who are now growing into monsters and deviant social misfit. What an awful experience!

On his own part, Mr Christopher Orocha, a teacher with Girls Secondary School, Mgbakwu, said “over the years, the main aim of education had been narrowly conceived, (as teaching a man to read and write, to acquire a profession, to master a vocation, or to be versed in the liberal art).

All these are only means to the end of true education which is to help man to live a full, happy and triumphant life. In other words, any system of education which does not help man to have a healthy and sound body, an alert brain, and balanced and disciplined instinctive urge is both misconceived and dangerous”.

“Teaching moral instructions, both at the primary and secondary school levels is now more important than ever before because the society is fast degenerating. Moral and cultural values such as: hard work, honesty, brotherliness, fellow-feeling, love, kindness, etc., are fast losing their places in the society.

When most persons talk about a school curriculum, they think about maths, science, social studies, and language courses. Seldom do I hear or read about moral values as being part of the curriculum. The problem is that the neglect of teaching moral values in schools is hurting our students and causing problems in society.

If a person has never learned any moral value, how is she or he able to discern the difference between right and wrong?

That is basically the essence of moral values education. As parents and educators; we should all advocate the teaching of moral values in our schools.

The school system must include Moral Education as a general subject in our primary and secondary schools, most importantly include the results of moral instructions examinations in the general assessments of pupils and students.

If efforts are not made to re-cultivate these values, the society may collapse. Before these children become old therefore, their feet must be set on the right path of moral behaviour.

This is also very important because the youths are always regarded as the leaders of tomorrow. If they are, then, they must be properly and well-grounded in good conducts, right away from their elementary schools.

The teaching of moral instruction in the lower schools has also become very important in view of the fact that most parents today do not seem to have time for their children

Some may blame the parents, others might point accusing fingers at the media, while the rest may believe it’s the youth who are responsible for their misbehavior but whichever school of thought you belong to, it is important to know that educating our children is a collective responsibility of the members of the society.

Therefore, this calls for concerns for parents, teachers, government and other stakeholders in the education sector.

This is not the time to point accusing fingers and play the blame game; instead it’s time to take urgent steps to bring to end this problem.

Parents should serve as gate keepers to see that the school lives up to its responsibilities and not to destroy the good work they have started with their children. Sadly, some parents abandon their responsibilities to the school; parents don’t have time to supervise their children and school work, while some are too busy with the pursuit of their businesses at the expense of the welfare of their children. The School is not a baby sitter; it only reinforces what parents have taught their children.

We must not forget the role of the media in our society today, which is to inform, educate, entertain and serve as the watch-dog of the society. Unfortunately, it is no longer so.

The entertainment industry, for example, through erotic music videos, movies and some obnoxious publications have succeeded in polluting the minds of the youth by promoting indecent dressing, indulging in alcohol and other  dangerous intoxicants, smoking, among others.

Many of these youngsters admire the errant lifestyle of some entertainers and secular music stars. They not only admire them but see them as role models, the end result is that they pay less attention to their studies, perform poorly in their academic work and at worst, might decide to drop out of school. Time and wherewithal spent in school are wasted, leaving their parents depressed and disappointed.

The culture of reading good books are no longer valued by these students, rather they spend hours browsing the internet that is not relevant to their studies. They are more concerned about having fun than studying.

The time for blame game is over; each and every one concerned should take up their responsibilities. The negative implication of this is nothing but frightening, if nothing is done to arrest this ugly trend then we can be sure of producing unruly adults. Parents, no matter how busy they may be must find time to give their children good upbringing as the gains far outweigh the losses.

The School must not relent in their effort to provide quality education in their pursuit for academic excellence. The Media also should be socially responsible to the society by promoting morals and values through their content”.

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