The International Day of Education, observed on the 24th of January, is an annual event on the UN Calendar since 2018, aimed at celebrating the role of education in bringing global peace and sustainable development.
This year’s observance is being celebrated under the theme “Changing Course, Transforming Education.”
The celebration, led by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, aims to showcase the most important transformations that have to be nurtured to realize everyone’s fundamental right to education and build a more sustainable, inclusive and peaceful futures.
As part of the celebration, debates around how to strengthen education as a public endeavour and common good, how to steer the digital transformation, support teachers, safeguard the planet and unlock the potential in every person to contribute to collective well-being and our shared home are being generated.
Purpose of Education
In one of his opinions in the 1940s which has been widely published, the American priest and activist, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, described the goal of education as intelligence plus character and went further to say that the function of education, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically and that education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society.
Research has shown that nowadays, many Nigerian parents over-schedule their children’s lives, pushing them hard for academic success, without due recourse to set milestones, a situation which experts have identified as the “Hurried Child Syndrome.
A Senior Lecturer in the Department of Arts and Social Science Education, University of Lagos, Dr. Olumide Ige, who noted that the Hurried Child Syndrome is not peculiar to Nigeria alone, but occurs throughout Africa said it is time to halt the trend to ensure the psychological, social and mental well being of the child and that of the society in general
“The child is a child, the child is not a miniature adult, we need to reconceptualize, and stop rushing out children, the purpose of education is to ensure a a mentally, psychologically and socially balanced individual” he said
A certified child and family wellbeing therapist, Mrs Hanatu Enwemadu noted that there’s an urgent need to sensitize parents and the society at large to let children be, and to stop hurrying them to grow by placing undue expectations on them.
Mrs Enwemadu pointed out that “Many parents, especially the middle class seek to create super kids, making them overly competitive which has a lot of negative impact on their overall wellbeing. The social media is not helping too and it has heightened this negative trend. Ironically, in the eagerness to create academic prodigy, overzealous parents often create under achievers and the aftermath of this pressure is having children who believe they are unworthy for having failed to meet their parents’ or societal expectations”
Mrs Enwemadu, whose NGO, A Mother’s Love Initiative, had taken up the task of creating awareness to curb the Hurried Child Syndrome for the past six years, said this year in particular, her Organisation is focusing on the theme “Beyond Academic Achievements: The Role of Social and Emotional Learning in Enhancing the Quality of Education”
She emphasized that the time has come for government and other policy makers to chart a new course for a truly transformative and well rounded education in the country.
“Unfortunately, the system is primarily designed to reward academic excellence, using several mechanism such as jumping classes, double promotion s, the list is endless, too much focus has been given to the grading at the end of an academic term, while too little attention is given to the pathway through which these children get to where they are, we need to change this and the time is now” the certified child and family wellbeing therapist insisted.
Acknowledging the grave dangers associated with the Hurried Child Syndrome, the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo noted that it has been difficult to enforce the national policy on education as many parents and schools collude in perpetuating the trend.
Mrs Adefisayo said “We have a national policy on education that states clearly that children should enter secondary school at twelve, but you can really force it, people will lie, if the child go to primary and secondary school too early, the child will go to University too early and be unduly exposed, this is something we have to get parents to understand, it is a matter of moral suasion, we can’t really force it”
The Commissioner urged researchers and NGO’s like A Mother’s Love Initiative to continue to gather data to enable government to take the needed action to change the course and ensure a truly transformative education.
“What we have so far are anecdotal evidence, we need more data to enable all stakeholders to do the right thing” she said.