So, reading the newspaper today, and something in the news got my attention. The Headline read ‘Limo Rides for going to School’ (Metro paper: 17/03/2006) The gist of the piece was that a school in South Bristol was promising pupils a free limousine and restaurant meal if they turn up to all their classes. It’s not the first time I’ve heard of these ‘incentives’. There is a similar programme in other schools in London that also have the ‘Class for Cash’scheme.
I swear you couldn’t make that up in Niaja (Nigeria). Ah-Ah! I mean, Picture the scene if you will: The year is 1989. Location: Ibadan Grammar School. the Principal, Mr Oladunjoye, in his oversized flowing ‘agbada’ (traditional yoruba attire), declaring in his thick Ijesa accent during the school assembley that he is initiating the ‘No Canes for better learning’ directive. The programme includes food vouchers to ‘School II’ (favourite haunt for truants, who, ironically, still made it to class after the first period.) Or how about the ‘Drop offs’; a scheme initiated by the already underfunded and over worked teachers to drop off student’s back home. All this and many other promises to encourage students to attend classes.
Hah! The harsh reality was and is more blunt: Such initiatives would NEVER take place in most of the schools in Nigeria. First off, It would never fly. And even if the go ahead was given, that kind of money for such a plan would have been ‘diverted’ (wink-wink) for other pressing needs. Think about it: money for limousines, meals and Ipods for wayward students, when the teaching staff’s last paycheck was about 4-6 months ago??? Ok, then.
The Cane is also a fundamental figure head that represents the authority of the school, hence can be used as the decisive incentive to get education rammed into your gumption. Give the teacher any reason to use that cane, and you have yourself to blame. Arguing objectively with the teacher in class is one thing, but mouthing off? You’ve just signed for yourself detention, Nigeria style. Going to go home and complain to Mum & Dad that you were beaten by the teacher?? Then you best get your facts right, because if your folks concur with the teacher that you deserved that discipline in the first instance, then your’re in for more floggings, mostly from your parents. If the teacher was not one for beatings, he or she would always opt for doubling any guilty students as farm labourers after school hours. To add insult to injury, you’d bring your own hoe & ‘ada’ (machete), cultivate the land, and see the fruits of your labour consumed by the teacher in 6 months time. (That’ll teach you for bunking off from class in the first place!)
A good education was and is the holy grail that many people had to work hard (literally!) to get. You try walking from Felele, Ibadan to Molete (about 10 miles) early in the morning, and in the scorching sun coming back every school day, just to learn “The Queen’s English”, according to my English Teacher, Mr. Adeleye. Coincidently, I come to the UK, and the inhabitants of the land do not even speak good english. Come to think of it, was all that nought?? (Nahh….)
There are more instances that other Nigerians or people you know that never were educated in the West would be more than happy to share with you their experiences on how they had to concentrate on education. Sometimes the methods were a tad draconian, but it probably worked in most instances. I swear, many children in the UK do not know how easy they have it when it comes to getting an education. I think the spoilt brats of this country should have an exchange programm with kids in other countries who thirst for a good education.
Besides, can you imagine workplaces offering limo incentives to employees with minimum wages just to come in? Productivity would go up!