By Josephine Agbonkhese & Chris Onuoha
September seemed hundreds of months away when schools were rounding-off in July. But alas, the holiday is already coming to an end and schools are again preparing to welcome students back to a academic year.
While parents across the country might partly be heaving a sigh of relief at the prospects of enjoying a bit of quietness once again and children are wishing the holiday could go on forever, the ceremonies involved in planning for a new session is, on one hand, taking a toll on both the energies and resources of families.This is as they are either busy cracking on lengthy school supply list such as new writing materials, school shoes, backpacks, lunch boxes, electronic gadgets and school wears, or planning payment of school fees.
Beyond the ceremonies though, the mood in Lagos and neighbouring states like Ogun, is that of mixed feelings due to an history of school-targeted kidnapping as well as written threat from kidnappers, suffered in the last school year.
Investigation by Woman’s Own however revealed that the Lagos State government, on its part, is working towards addressing this ugly strend in insecurity.
“The state government, through the Ministry of Education which is headed by the Deputy Governor, Mrs Idiat Oluranti Adebule, is putting so much in place, both in terms of physical and non-physical security measures,” said Mr Segun Ogundeji, Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Education, Lagos State, in a telephone conversation with Woman’s Own.
“As for physical measures, we already have watchtowers installed in schools to ensure 24-hours security surveillance in our schools, especially the model colleges. Bushes around perimeter fences are being cleared and there will be electrification of the perimeter fences for better illumination. There will also be increased security patrol as well as resident security officials in schools.
“As for non-physical measures, this Thursday(today), we are holding a workshop at the state secretariat on security counselling, awareness and sensitization for Principals, Vice-Principals, Year Tutors, and all. Topics ranging from safer school environment; roles and expectations from security agencies in securing lives and properties in schools; the roles of principals, vice-principals, teachers and students, etc. will be discussed.
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, will be there and will speak alongside other security experts. The Deputy Governor will unveil more on this at the workshop today,” Ogundeji said.
While all hope remain high that these measures will make insecurity history in schools across the state, especially as the safety of schools is key to achieving the global Education For All goal, it is important to also emphasize that without safe schools, Nigeria’s dream of harnessing the power of education for achieving goals in health, food, employment, environmental, energy, security, and all, will come to naught.
Transitioning from summer to school
Security concerns notwithstanding, one reoccurring challenge faced by most families at the beginning of each school year is adjusting back into school routines, essentially due to weeks of staying awake late into the night, watching movies, chatting, playing or even doing nothing. Switching from a summer to a school schedule can thus be stressful to everyone in the household.
To resolve this first-day-of-school mayhem, Mrs Doris Francis, an Abuja-based educationist with 25 years of experience, said parents should establish bed and wake-up times for their children days before the first day of school.
“Parents should wake up late sleepers a little earlier each day as the vacation comes to an end. If children have been staying up late every night, it will not be easy going to sleep early the night before school starts,” she said.
According to her, routines are important for children, especially when it comes to sleep. Thus, enforcing an hour of quiet time before bed, which includes a no-electronics rule, can help children get into a healthy bedtime routine and perform optimally the next day.
Francis suggested reading as a good way to help children wind down without using their devices, and also recommends giving them their own alarm clock, and giving them more responsibility when it comes to going to bed on time.
Easing into school work
Whether a child had attended holiday lessons or not though, another challenge that also rears its head once this hurdle of readjusting to bedtime routines has been surmounted is the task of easing back into school work proper.
To make this reconditioning effortless, experts suggest setting goals for your child. This includes both grade and non-grade related goals, which can instil in them some spirit of responsibility.
“You can do a bit of brush-up lessons with their previous textbooks or lesson notes a few hours each day before school resumes. You can also set goals other than getting good grades. Other goals you can set for them include doing daily chores and household responsibilities, such as clearing dishes from the table,” Famakin, a psychologist in one of the general hospitals in Lagos, advised.
He also recommended using an incentive-based based approach, with rewards, to further encourage hard work.