New academic session — We are at the end of the long holidays – that period after an aircraft lands and is taxiing to the parking bay.

From next week, alarm bells would once again go off in the wee hours of the mornings and the school run hustle would begin.  The struggle to bath, dress, prepare and eat or pack breakfast for young ones in the space of about an hour or two would begin – capable of souring moods of parents also preparing themselves for work.

Welcome to the brand new 2019/2020 academic session.  Newness holds promise of change; of bigger goals that can be achieved; of another chance to do something differently; something right. The chance is open to everyone – from public office holders making policies to civil servants in charge of implementing those policies; from proprietors running private schools to teachers whose responsibility it is to use the curriculum in the classroom; from parents who desire quality education for their wards to learners whose main focus at this stage of their development is to acquire knowledge.

So, what should all these groups of stakeholders be doing differently this new session? This question is best answered by each person as situations and circumstances differ. However, it is good for each person in these stakeholder groups to be conscious of working towards the bigger vision of nation building. Education plays an important role in nation building. As a result, for us to achieve development at national level, each stakeholder must be aware of the role they should play and what their actions and inactions can contribute to or take away from our collective goal.

This brings the question: do we have a collective goal? Do we have national ideals? I guess we do.   Our goals and ideals are stated in so many policy documents – accessible or otherwise. However, those saddled with the responsibility of providing guidance about these goals and ideals are not doing enough to drum them into our consciousness such that they become part of our everyday targets. Regardless of the absence of such conscious campaign, however, we have our national anthem and national pledge that remind us of what we want for our country Nigeria. Let us take the National Pledge for instance, parts of it talks about “defending Nigeria’s unity” and “upholding her honour and glory”. Also, the second stanza of the National Anthem, which is also our National Prayer, talks about growing in “love” and “honesty”, and “living just and true”. It also talks about attaining “great lofty heights” and building “a nation where peace and justice shall reign”. Really, without any obvious documents, we have something to guide what we do daily in all facets of our lives.

Bringing it home to the education sector, which is where we incubate our future, all stakeholders should be extra conscious of the ideals stipulated in our national anthem and pledge. So, as school owner running a school this new session, how do you intend to defend Nigeria’s unity and uphold her honour and glory? How do you intend to attain great lofty heights? Definitely not by supporting examination malpractice for pecuniary gains; definitely not by owing teachers or extorting parents. For teachers, it is definitely not by being late to school, or failing in your classroom duties; it is definitely not by physically, emotionally or sexually abusing your learners, or helping them cheat in examinations.

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For parents, it is definitely not by owing fees and changing schools to avoid paying debt; or by failing to monitor your wards’ progress. It is not by being ready to pay to illegally upgrade their scores or harassing teachers working hard to educate them. It is not by being too lax about discipline, showing bad example or neglecting their needs; nor is it by being too strict you alienate them or failing to stand up for them when necessary.

For learners, it is not by failing to give adequate attention to school work while doing everything to be like the Jones. It is not by perpetrating examination malpractice or bullying others.

So, as this new session begins, let the education family be guided by what our anthem and pledge say and we will not go wrong.

by Kofoworola Belo-Osagie

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