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SALVAGING THE 21st CENTURY NIGERIAN YOUTHS THROUGH A HOLISTIC EDUCATION

  AN INAUGURAL SPEECH PRESENTED TO THE ENUGU DIOCESE CATHOLIC TEACHERS’ WORKSHOP, BY VERY REV. FR DR. EDWARD C. KANIFE,

 

                                 “My son, if you have decided to serve the Lord,

                                 prepare yourself for trials. Keep your heart upright

                                 and remain resolute; do not be upset in the time

                                 of adversity. Hold fast to the Lord, do not separate

                                 yourself from him so that you may be successful

                                 to the end of your days.” (Sirach, 2:1-3)

 Education: The word education comes initially from two Latin words, educare, to educate, to teach, to coach, to bring up, and again, educere, to lead, to guide, etc. it can be seen that there is hardly any difference between the two words.

One is educable if one is able to absorb education. Education, therefore, is the process of educating, upbringing; instructing; training. (Conf. Collins New English Dictionary, 1966,)

 

  1. Informal Education: The family

Nigerian homes are made up of two kinds of families: the nuclear family, composed of the husband, wife and their children, and the extended family, which

includes both nuclear family and the relatives of both the husband and wife, and even dependants. Culturally, this is the set-up of our homes, and Nigerians attach much importance to these units.

In the olden days, long before the advent of western education in Nigeria, extended family system used to provide a very strong and effective instrument of traditional education for children up to adult age and beyond. Education here does not mean alphabetization, or the three R’s, (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) rather it means inculcating and imparting on the growing children the culture of their people, which is a whole lot of civics, honesty, respect for the elders, participating in family chores and other responsibilities, above all, respect for human life. Boys are taught bravery, to be very close to their fathers, and be with them in their places of work, and so emulate them. The girl child, on the other hand, is supposed to be near her mother. The mother would be very watchful of her growing-up daughter and groom her to be like her. To be decent, to exhibit good feminine characteristics. Parents as role models, would teach and correct their children in community spiritedness, public morality and religious duties, and others, especially for males, include the art of wrestling, story-telling, socialization and even fighting or the art of warfare, should the need arise, in defense of one’s rights, safeguarding the community lands, streams, markets places, etc. It is worthy of note that similar things also exist in other cultures. For example, “the education of the young Yoruba in the codes of manners, conventions, customs, morals, superstitions and laws of his society is therefore achieved through various members of his family and household, his extended family (usually located in the same compound), his kindred and his neighbourhood.” (Fafunwa A. B. 1982)

Education cannot be holistic without being moral and religious. It is at home that the child learns the majority of what religious and moral education is all about. The church comes in to complement it.   

 

  1. Formal Education: The School

When a child has grown old enough to leave the home environment to attend school in an institution, the formal education has begun, be it nursery, primary, secondary or tertiary. In the olden days a child was adjudged to be mature for formal education when his/her hand could touch his earlobe from across the head. There were no nursery or kindergarten schools. Many children before ever starting school had assisted their mothers as baby-sitters to their younger siblings. We shall however, limit our scope to the primary and secondary levels. At this second tear of education process, parents will not hands-off, and leave everything to the teachers. On the contrary, they will intensify their work because a lot of factors will necessarily come into play. Parents should see the school as a major helper in this education process, and appreciate the contribution of teachers in this regard. It is at the primary and secondary levels that religious and moral education is given a pungent attention. To highlight this point, ( Nwabichie, Remigius O., 2000) argued that a teacher of religion must not only be familiar and sensitive to the discipline, he must also take a stand on moral issues because his personal commitment inevitably, influences how he teaches the subject and the nature and extent of success he achieves.”

Pope Pius XI, 1965, in his Encyclical, ‘Divini Illius Magistri,’ has this to say. “Perfect schools are the result not so much of good methods as of good teachers, teachers who are thoroughly prepared and well-grounded in the matter they have to teach; who possess the intellectual and moral qualifications required by their important office; who cherish a pure and holy love for the youths confided to them because they love Jesus Christ and His Church …”

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At the end of the Nigeria/Biafra war the government of Ukpabi Asika, came up with the obnoxious policy by which the government of Eastern Region of Nigeria forcefully took over all the Voluntary Agency built and administered schools. Most of these were owned by the Roman Catholic Mission. The Saints’ or Catholic names of the schools were abrogated, and replaced with “High School,” “Central School,” “Community School,” etc. The teaching of Religion and Christian moral lessons were dropped. That was when work ethics and morality among teachers went to the wind. Other resultant effects were the collapse of school infrastructure, and all other structures, unimaginable crime wave and atrocities among students and pupils.  All of us are witnesses to the dire consequences of that repugnant and reprehensible government policy. Many governors in the areas affected made frantic effort to see how much could be retrieved and rectified of the already bastardized situation.

It is not enough, therefore, that ‘Religion’ is taught as a separate subject. And it is not enough either that some religious experts are around. No! Religious and moral education should go hand in hand. Its objective is to lead us back to God. Eugene Ugonna Igboaja, 2010 has this to say, “Man has a special likeness to his maker. He possesses very essential similarity to the divine which philosophers call “Imago Dei,” the image of God. It is on this divine image in him that the dignity of man lies.” Therefore, teachers of any subject should, as a matter of principle, help children in their conscience formation on moral issues. Things regarding faith and morals should not be left hanging, and children expected to draw their conclusions. They should be taught the consequences of any moral action. The sense of sin in an immoral act, and its negative consequences must be clearly and unequivocally pointed out. Teachers and other adults should guide them as good mentors. For example, if in a Physics class, students have learnt how to produce a lethal bomb, morality should inform them that they should not experiment on it, to fight their opponents or eliminate their imagined enemies. Or again, lessons learnt in a Biology class, on human sexuality, should not induce the youths to try to experiment on it. Morality teaches that extra-marital sex is immorality and a grave sin.

Some people, who are skeptical about religion, apathetic or indifferent, about it in our schools, continue to raise the question. “How much religion can we have in the school system in order to function effectively and efficiently?” Francis Cardinal Arinze, (1994) in reply states that the question does not arise since religion should not just be a subject among others. It is rather “the atmosphere which should permeate a whole school. “He further stresses the need for religion to be part and parcel of human life in such a way that it forms man’s philosophy of life. Therefore, to achieve this it matters who teaches it and how he teaches it. Religion is not just taught, it must be caught more than it is even taught.” (Nwabichie, R. O. 2000).

When we examine the moral norms and a quest for appropriate pastoral approaches to the various problems of human sexuality it would be incomplete if reference was not made to the teaching of Christ found in the sermon on the Mount, especially to the Lord’s words; “you have heard that is was said, you shall not commit adultery; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt. 5.27)” John Paul II, Family: Domestic Church, hence, any teacher handling other subject areas should also be religiously and morally sound. Once again, it is of utmost importance that teachers here realize that the children are watching them, and are very apt to emulate and imbibe, with great avidity, those things they observe the adults do.

What is moral? ‘Moral’ is a principle and belief concerning right and wrong behaviour. For example, someone who is moral behaves in a way that they believe is right. (B.B.C. English Dictionary. Someone who is moral must be upright both in his mind and action, since it is from the inside that all man’s actions emerge, “ex abundatia cordis os loquitor,” from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. An action is moral if it is related to the norm; an action not so related is, properly speaking, immoral, or a morally indifferent action. Moral action may correspond to the norm or contradict it, and is thus good or bad. “While religion caters for the spiritual side of man giving anchor to man’s quest for meaning relevance, morality on the other hand, avails him  of the categories of right judgment – good must be done, evil must be avoided.(”Nwabichie, R. O., 2000).- When we speak of the error of the head and error of the heart, it means that the head can make mistakes in calculations, judgments and predictions, but the heart is different. The heart on the other hand usually takes a stand on moral issues after a deliberate and precogitated process.

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 iii. The Problem of the 21st Century Nigerian Youth

Right now, we must admit that it is no longer easy to expect the modern youth to accept, adopt and assimilate all adult values and standards as before. In the past the family, the society, used to be governed by the ideas, ideals, philosophies, traditional tenets or religious tenets, proverbs, and so on, constantly dished out to them by the parents and elders in general. People, especially the growing children, were not expected to ask questions, but to adopt them completely. One of the greatest worries of our parents is their children’s friendships and what they lead to. Sue Haughton, 1965 averred, “A bad friend, according to parents, is one who leads us to ‘bad’ ways, who accompanies us to the ‘wrong’… to meet the ‘wrong’ people and to do the ‘wrong’ things.” There is no gainsaying it that things have drastically changed within the last few decades. Value systems have also changed and some have even collapsed in many cases. With drastic changes or impact of the society, from peer groups, the social media, our growing youngsters have slipped out of our fingers. Many of our youths and young adults are so much into hard drugs, cultism, alcohol, promiscuity, yahoo-yahoo, internet fraud, cultism, homo-sexualism, lesbianism, With the internet at their beck and call, the world has become a global village, and it is impacting many of them rather negatively. There is so much of godlessness and irreligiosity among many of them.

The primary objective of holistic education is to try to of the human person the best they can be, the best of what God wants them to be, that is, self-reliant, self-fulfilled, socially adjusted, morally upright, academically sound, and emotionally balanced personality, someone who can be reliable, dependable, trustworthy. With is, man’s unconsciousness quest for God will be realized as St. Augustine in his Confessions put it. “Fecisti nos, Domine, ad Te, inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in Te. “Thou didst create us, O Lord, for thyself, and our heart is restless till it rests in Thee.” Pius XI, 1965

 

  1. How cheap human life has become in Nigeria

Human life has become so cheap in Nigeria. Many people no longer shudder at the sight of human blood, nor even of spilling of it. This moment, as you are busy engaged in one activity or the other, be it in your office listening to people and trying to solve their interminable problems, or in your shed attending to customers, or as a teacher with your students in the classroom, or as a nurse or doctor attending to crowds of  sick people in the hospital, or you are sitting with your friends in a bar, taking a drink after a day’s hard work, or relaxing at home with your family, or in bed for the night’s rest, or involved in one activity or the other that forms your daily occupation, or you are somewhere recreating yourself; someone, somewhere, is under the knife of some murderous killers; someone’s private parts are being harvested; someone is being dissected and parts of his organs are being extracted, most often, for ritual purposes. Gone are the days when such unnerving incidents or cases of this nature and magnitude used to be heard only once in a blue moon, but now the frequency and the rapidity keeps every same person very uncomfortable.

 

  1. GET-MONEY-QUICK: THE SCORGE OF RITUALNKILLINGS

Iniobong Umoren was a young woman in her early 20s who lived in Uyo the Akwa Ibom Capital State. She shared, on Twitter, her need for a job, and one Twitter user named Uduak Akpan asked her for a private chat concerning her application. According to the police report, Mr. Akpan asked Ms. Umoren to meet him at a particular location in Uyo.

When the unsuspecting lady got there, the sinister man raped her, killed her, and buried her in a shallow grave. Unfortunately for the serial rapist and murderer, the lady had given her friend the phone number of the person who invited her for an interview. This number led to the apprehension of the culprit after the lady was declared missing for days.

There were reports that Ms. Umoren’s gruesome murder was not just a case of a rape and murder but that it also involved ritual killing. Mr. Akpan’s entire family is said to be involved in the barbaric business of ritual killings.

  1. VANGUARD 2019

In 2019, Port Harcourt made international headlines in ritual killings with the case of Gracious David-West, Nigeria’s most celebrated ritual killer in recent times. From July to September 2019, David-West killed at least 15 women, mainly in the Rivers State capital city. After his arrest, he confessed to at least 15 murders.

Official statistics indicate that there has been an increase in the number of missing persons all over the country in recent times. Some are found, while others are not. There is speculation that the majority of those who disappear perpetually without trace are often victims of ritual killings.

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Incidents of ritual killings have assumed an alarming rate in Nigeria. There seems to be little or no effort by concerned government agencies to checkmate the trend.

FG blames upsurge in ritual killings among youth on parents faulty up-bringing.                                        Feb. 4th 2022

Federal government has blamed the upsurge of crime among youth in the country on parents’ faulty upbringing. It lamented the rate at which young people engaged in ritual killing under the pretext of looking for quick wealth.

  1. VANGUARD: August 9th, 2022

Cleric sentenced to death for using 7, year-old for ritual

An Ikeja Special Offences Court on Tuesday sentenced on Pastor Erimole Adetokunbo and one Adeloyin Oyekanmi to death for killing a seven-year old boy for ritual purposes.

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo sentenced the duo who changed their pleas from not guilty to guilty on Monday.

According to Lagos State government, the convicts committed he offences on June 7th, 2017 at No 6, Oke Oniburokun St., Odekekere, Ikorodu Lagos.

  1. Stakeholders raise concern over increased ritual killings in Ogun. 16th, 2022

Stakeholders in Ogun State on Tuesday raised concerns over increased instances of ritual killings in the state, calling on the state government to do the needful before the issue gets out of hand. It would be recalled that no fewer than three sets of alleged ritual killers, including a couple, were arrested by the State Police command inn less than on month. At a day sensitization/orientation workshop on security and peace building for Ogu‘State students, the stakeholders expressed worry over the development, saying that the government must urgently tame the monster. Sadly, some adults are not exempted from the illegal act, but youths appear neck-deep in the get-rich-quick syndrome. (The case of Evans cannot be forgotten in a hurry). They engage in all sorts of criminality to attain financial success over night and lead ostentatious life-styles devoid of hard work and legitimacy.

 

CONCLUSION

The cases are far too many. I merely scratched the surface with the very scanty examples cited here, “just a tip of the iceberg.” Our daily newspapers are replete with barrages of such horrible news. When we consider these incidents with their concomitant harrowing experiences, the sorrow and the trauma in the families of the victims, how human beings without any consideration, slaughter others, one cannot but shudder and ask. “Where are we going to?” Can we really say that those involved in those despicable acts never passed through the tutelage of parental up-bringing, or that they are not human beings at all?  Yet, all those perpetrators are our children, and the victims are also our children. We are all involved because it concerns us. You are all teachers and also parents, by implication, the children that pass through you, are yours. You have enormous work to do. In as much as teaching is a profession, it is equally a vocation like parenting. Each of them is done with passion and dedication. If one has no calling to be a parent or a teacher, one should not jump into it. If, however, you find yourself as a teacher or parent, please accept it and do it with passion and diligence and God will reward you here, and in the world to come. Thanks for your audience.

 

REFERENCES:

          Christian Community Bible

  1. Fafunwa, A. Babs, History of Education in Nigeria, 1982
  2. Eugene Ugonna Igboaja, The Rise and Fall of Education Today, The role of Mission and Private Schools in an Educationally Decadent Nation, 2010
  3. John Paul II, The Family: Domestic Church, L”Osservatore Romano,1983
  4. Remigius O. Nwabichie, Religion for Morality in Education, Printed by Sapp
  5. Pius XI, Christian Education of Youth, in Seven Great Encyclicals, Paulist Press, 1965
  6. Sue Haughton, Growing Up, Living Parish Pamphlets, 1965
  7. Vanguard, September, 2019
  8. Vanguard, August 9th 2022

 

Rev. Fr. Dr. Edward Chuke Kanife

Catholic Diocese of Enugu

 

 

 

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The Choice Flame Newspaper is geared towards blazing the trail in modern journalism, committed to smart, truth-centered, in-depth and objective reporting on the Church and society through quality contents that empower and elevate the human spirit. It is the publication of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu with the aim to dispel darkness.
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Admin Administrator
The Choice Flame Newspaper is geared towards blazing the trail in modern journalism, committed to smart, truth-centered, in-depth and objective reporting on the Church and society through quality contents that empower and elevate the human spirit. It is the publication of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu with the aim to dispel darkness.

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