Dhaka, Tue, Sep 2018

Opinion

Nigeria can teach Bangladesh a thing or two

28 August 2018,Tuesday, 12:41



Sir Frank Peters

Nigeria has made a giant leap forward to protect the interest of its future through its children.

It is common knowledge the future of a nation manifests through its children… the caretakers of what they have inherited and the future leaders/developers/purveyors of that they would wish to bequeath.

The hackneyed slogan/jingle of most insincere politicians, prime ministers, and presidents worldwide is: “the children are our future”. And, in most cases, that’s all it ever amounts to be… a hackneyed catchphrase.

Primarily, it’s aimed to suggest they have their best interests (the children of the voters) in their hearts and that’s why they should vote for them.

Unfortunately, the words seldom match the reality. Any nation that permits corporal punishment to its children could not possibly have the best interests of the children or the future of the nation at its heart.

IMPOSSIBLE! – That’s like having a garden of the most beautiful flowers and stripping them of their petals.

Any government that permits corporal punishment to children in schools, madrassahs and homes would never qualify for a humanitarian award in the eyes of Allah or educated man. – IMPOSSIBLE!

Corporal punishment is a illuminated neon sign overhanging a dysfunctional society where schools and homes are no longer safe havens of love, protection and care for children.

Education is the solid foundation of every solid nation on earth… you reap what you sow and one can’t expect anything to be any different. From a political viewpoint, however, an ignorant, uneducated nation is much easier to manage, control and manipulate than Einstein-like intellectuals who are forever questioning and demanding they justify their every move.

Martyred Intellectuals

Isn’t that why the Pakistani forces sought to get rid of all the Bangladeshi intellectuals? – The intellectuals were not viewed as assets to the nation (as many enlightened nations would see them today), but as thorns in their side, asking awkward questions, that would have made governing the country a strenuous uphill climb, if not entirely impossible.

Martyred Intellectual Day (December 14) is a day of world mourning, not just a day for Bangladesh to observe. We will never know how many Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton or Thomas Edison like minds were killed in the process or what great contributions they would have made that would have benefited Bangladesh and mankind.

The past is the past and while its mistakes cannot be erased, important lessons can be learned from them.

Nigeria is learning from its past and earnestly attempting to erase its mistakes.

As an integral part of its efforts to improve basic education, 5,000 primary school teachers in Edo State are attending training courses to update their skills and meet the learning and teaching needs of pupils.

Initiated by Governor Godwin Obaseki, the primary teachers are drawn from select schools across the state, given quality training using world standard correct methods and practices. The teachers are shown new teaching methods, using digital technology, and taught how to adjust to bring out the best in students. The nation is investing in the students and that means it’s investing in itself and its own future.

One of the teachers, Ojeifo Grace in Orele Primary School, said: "We have been trained on how to teach children properly; how to ask questions to get quick response from students; how to commend them in areas they did well and how to correct them when they make mistakes.

"I have come to realize that it is not by bullying or shouting at students that they will perform well. Also, I have learnt that leadership by example can ignite pupils' interest in learning. The course has exposed us to methods I didn't know before."

Teacher Ibrahim Lasisi said he completed the course equipped with innovative teaching methods that bring dull concepts to life with practical experience enhance teachers' ability to deliver qualitative education to pupils.

Different thinking

Teacher Mrs. Tomo Elizabeth said although she had attended professional skills development trainings in the past, this exercise was different and she acquired child-centred teaching approaches that would improve the quality of education in the state and yield positive results.

"I was trained five years ago but it wasn't like this. In the past, we attended trainings just for the financial benefits, but in this one, we are gaining knowledge."

Dr. Joan Osa Oviawe, Founder of the Grace Foundation for Education and development, said the training brings to 7,000, the number of primary school teachers trained on modern techniques.

"With the training, we would have successfully migrated about 190,000 pupils onto a new teaching method that is learner-centred, nurturing, and teaching without corporal punishment. (NB: “WITHOUT corporal punishment”)

"By September 2018, 62% of the 1,200 public primary schools would be in the Edo-BEST Programme. We are also striving to renovate and construct of over 230 primary schools across the state," she said.

In 2011, Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Md Sheikh Hassan Arif outlawed corporal punishment in ALL schools and madrassahs throughout Bangladesh and declared the act of corporal punishment: "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child's fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom".

Sadly, it still continues and reduces the chances of a child gaining proper education and, perhaps, damaging him/her physically or mentally for life.

Sad, too, that corporal punishment in education still continues by ignorant ‘teachers’, eight-years after the debate in Bangladesh had concluded and legislated against the horrific showcase of ignorance in the classroom.

Perhaps its time the Bangladesh government copied from Nigeria’s school exercise book to protect its most valuable resource and give space to the new generation of intellectuals to develop and expand their thinking freely, without fear and in an atmosphere conducive to learning and developing. That would be a befitting tribute to the intellectuals who were martyred.

(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, humanitarian, Goodwill Ambassador and Senior Adviser to European and Saudi royalty, and a loyal foreign friend of Bangladesh.)

 

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