By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
Following the resuscitation of five uniformed voluntary organisations in Lagos State public primary and secondary schools early this year, school children have not only been registered as members of these clubs but are already actively participating in their activities and programmes, a development that now enables them to utilise their time and energy usefully and productively.
The five re-launched clubs are Boys Scout, Boys Brigade, Girl Guides, The Red Cross Society and the Sheriff Guards. It became mandatory for pupils and students in Lagos State to belong to at least one of these clubs after the state Deputy Governor, Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan had, at a Stakeholders Forum on the re-launch of the uniformed clubs appealed to parents and guardians to allow and encourage their children and wards to become members of the clubs.
Heads of schools throughout the six education districts in the state immediately took steps to revive the uniformed voluntary clubs in their schools which for years remained moribund. The decision of the state government to revive clubs in schools is informed by its determination to ensure an all round development of its students.
Sosan explains the rationale for the rejuvenation of the club. She says: â€œWe believe these uniformed clubs in our schools are veritable ways of instilling the virtues of discipline, cooperation, time management, team work, volunteering as well as patriotism in our children.
These uniformed clubs have in the past and hopefully will in the future, train their members in survival skills, citizenship in addition to preparing them for various careers so that they can look to a brighter and rewarding future.â€
She further says of the value of the voluntary organisations in the total development of youths: â€œIt is also on record that these clubs imbue their members with such core values as health and fitness, honesty, perseverance, sense of responsibility and character development.
This of course will enable them grow into responsible adults who will understand the need for positive family life, service to oneâ€™s community and nation as well as respect to fellow men in addition to encouraging them to strive towards personal growth, development and thus personal achievement.â€
Speaking in the same vein of the expectations of the uniformed clubs and the roles they play in character development of their members, Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), said that they instil in youths, leadership principles such as courage, vision and determination, adding that through the clubs, the state government is restoring very useful platforms for training its youths and inculcating in them qualities such as drive to achieve, motivation to read, cognitive ability and emotional resilience.
â€œIn restoring clubs and voluntary uniformed orgnisations to our primary and secondary schools, we are affirming our determination to guarantee a bright future for our children, to ensure that their precious lives are not laid waste by drugs, alcoholism, cults and other dreadful habits. We are taking another major step forward in reclaiming our youths and preparing them adequately to play their roles as future leaders,â€ Fashola said.
In running the voluntary uniformed organisations in Lagos public schools, their organisers are being strictly guided by the fundamental principles of these clubs.
Ipaja Community Primary School, Ipaja in Alimosho Local Government Area is one of the schools visited for the purpose of assessing their integration of this extra-curricula activity into their schoolsâ€™ programmes. Apart from the fact that pupils of this school, and those of other schools in the state wear to school the uniforms of these various voluntary organisations on Wednesdays and Fridays, teachers in charge of each of these clubs have, since early this year, been instilling into the pupils the fundamental principles of the club.
The Head teacher of the school, Mrs. Bola Oyebamiji says that solid arrangements have been put in place by the school to ensure that all pupils participate in the clubsâ€™ activities.
Her words: â€œAll the schoolâ€™s teachers are assigned to each of the clubs based on their area of specialisation and interest. The running of the clubs took off this year after the state government, through the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, handed the clubsâ€™ uniforms to us. There are more than 50 pupils in each of the voluntary organisation but not all of them have the uniforms yet because they are being brought to school throughout the state in batches.
Teachers in charge of these clubs impart to pupils the principles of these clubs every Wednesday between 12.30 p.m. and 2 p.m. It is absolutely compulsory for all pupils to attend it because teachers take their attendance.â€
Oyebamiji added that the re-launching of the clubs in schools is a positive development as it inculcates the virtues of discipline, hardwork, team work, self-reliance as well as the spirit of assisting their community and humanity generally.
She disclosed that Brownies Club is in existence in the school which is the same thing as Girl Guides.
At St. Andrew Anglican Nursery and Primary School, Alimosho as well as other primary and secondary schools throughout the state, participation in voluntary clubs is compulsory with pupils and students being very passionate about it.
Essentially, the Boys Scout addresses itself to non-formal education which provides organised educational activities outside the established formal system. The scout movement, which started in Nigeria in 1912, is also out to develop young people in achieving their full physical, spiritual and social potential in addition to intellectual development, in its ultimate aim of making its members responsible citizens and members of their communities and nation.
The youth programme of Boys Scout is the means of achieving scoutingâ€™s education purpose, which includes developing the capability of its youth members, of all ages, by allowing them to participate in making decision affecting the implementation of the programme in which they participate at unit and local levels.
The Red Cross Society in Nigeria on the other hand is a leading voluntary provider of emergency help to those in need with over 350,000 volunteers working in almost every community in the country. All the activities of this society are in the spirit of preventing and alleviating human suffering throughout the country, respect for the human being and promotion of mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace.
The Sheriff Guards, which is the first indigenous voluntary organisation, integrates education withdevelopment and prepares young people to face the challenges of life successfully. It promotes the physical, mental, moral, spiritual, social development as well as self-employment scheme of youths. Indeed, it serves as an agency that assists job seekers for the unemployed youths.
The Nigerian Girl Guides offers girls and young women projects and programmes that enable them to develop their full potential as responsible citizens of the world through teamwork, service and action. It inculcates positive moral traits as loyalty, self-relevance, generosity, obedience, truthfulness, kindness, cheerfulness and the zeal and desire to be of service to their communities and the society at large.
The Boys Brigade on its part seeks the advancement of its members and the promotion of habits of obedience, discipline, self-respect and all that tends towards true manliness. It is involved in intellectual, spiritual, physical and social development of its members which is to facilitate a complete and total development of the boy.