It is said the ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ I think this saying underscores the importance of the right of the child to play. This explains why, I believe many children look forward to holidays from school. I also want to believe the favourite of all the holidays to our children is the long vacation. It affords some of them the opportunity of summer outside the country and those whose parents cannot afford it send them to Summer Schools in the country.
I do not believe that the Summer School should be another platform to load young people with concentrated academics exercises. I believe the environment should provide them with fun and if they must learn the strategy to employ should be a combination of education and entertainment as pioneered by the likes of Ron Clark. It is known as EDU-TAINMENT.
The Summer School could make it one of its responsibilities to employ the strategy of EDU-TAINMENT to teach them some of their responsibilities. It is called Personal Social Responsibility. The Child’s Rights Act, 2003 provides a credible template for us to teach our children responsibilities. I want to recommend it as a necessary curriculum for the Summer School.
Having worked with young people for more than nineteen years and through research, it has been found that children, particularly teenagers have the tendency of thinking the world and everything in it exist only for their benefits. Therefore, if parents and other custodians of the mind of the child focus only on teaching the child his rights, it will fuel the child’s tendency to be selfish. The foregoing will neither be in the best interest of the child nor the society. One of the characters of modern society is that every member of society, young and old should be responsible for the well-being of the state. A Yoruba adage says, ‘the birth of Ife town is attributable to both the wisdom of the young and the old.’
One painful truth in our society today is that we are raising children, who are not aware of their civic responsibilities. The major challenge is that we as adults are so beaten down by the state of the nation that the rat race of survival has consumed all of our attention. We are fast gravitating towards a state of everyone to himself and God for us all. Fast, we are transferring same spirit to our children. The truth is children do not do what we say, they do what we do.
Section 19 of the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 reads: ‘every child has responsibilities towards his family and society, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other legally recognized communities, nationally and internationally.
It is the duty of a child, subject to his age and ability and such other limitations as may be contained in this Act and any other law, to —
Family Cohesion: working towards the cohesion of their families,
Respect: respecting their parents and elders,
Service to Society: placing their physical and intellectual capabilities at the service of the State,
Moral Consideration: contributing to the moral well-being of the society,
Peace Building: strengthening social and national solidarity,
Patriotism: preserving the independence and integrity of the country,
Tolerance: respecting the ideals of freedom, equality, humaneness, and justice for all persons, relating with others in the spirit of tolerance, dialogue and consultation,
Global Commitment: contributing to the best of their abilities solidarity with and unity with Africa, and the world at large.
While Section 19 of the Act, which I just read dwells on the responsibilities of children, the Section 20 outlines our responsibilities as custodians thus: ‘every parents, guardians, institutions and authorities responsible for the care, maintenance, upbringing, education, training, socialization, employment and rehabilitation of a child has a duty to provide the necessary, guidance, education and training for the child in his or her care such as will equip the child to secure his assimilation, appreciation and observance of the responsibilities set out in this part of the Act.’
The point I seek to address at this point is how the custodians of the life of the child fulfil the Section 20 Mandate. I think in giving credible ventilation to the Section 20 Mandate, the focus of the custodians should be on developing the character of the children. I opine that our primary focus should not be to load the child with the responsibilities outlined in Section 19, but to help him become the kind of person, who can carry out the responsibilities.
In view of the foregoing, I propose the being D-SSMARTTEESSTT™ Principle as a Template of for Teaching Children the Section 19 Responsibilities:
D- Decode Your Identity (a commitment to discovery of identity)
S- Seek Power Through Vision (determining the compass of the Journey)
S – Soundness (respect for priority)
M – Make of Yourself (an eagle eye on your human ingenuity)
A – Advance in Knowledge and Skill Daily (a commitment to self-improvement and skill acquisition)
R – Respect Yourself (affirmation of self-worth and personal dignity of human person)
T-Think Beyond Yourself (a vote for Personal Social Responsibility)
T- Tell Your Story (serving yourself hot to your world as a lesson of hope)
E- Exude your Flavour (commitment to insisting on your originality)
E- Empathy (readiness to see life beyond your nose and experiences)
S- Speed-Limit- Conscious (embracing the virtue of patience and contentment)
S- Seek Meaningful Relationships (learning the wisdom in relationship and team work)
T- Take it Easy with Yourself (commitment to being comfortable with you mistakes)
T- Turn to God (Winning the Battle of Total Surrender to Your Maker)
As far as I am concerned, the greatest legacy we can give to our children is to shake off any sense of liability and teach them to be responsible. It is a trite saying that a child that is not trained is the one, who will sell an estate, which is built.
Note: first published in The Punch, Thursday, August 11, 2011, Page 64