By Stellamaris Ashinze
Mrs Akunna Ubabuike, 60, is always boasting before his three children, all below 35 years, that her pre-1980 schooling was better than theirs.
Indeed, analysts believe that schooling before 80s and after the periods are not the same in many ways.
They are of the opinion that old time schooling, though not characterised with sophistication of technology and flamboyancy associated with today’s education, has so much to show.
Mrs Feyintola Benson, a retired bank worker, who was the first Head Girl of the Lagos Anglican Girls’ Grammar School (LAGGS), Surulere, Lagos, argues that old students were better behaved.
The school is one of the pioneers of secondary education in Nigeria that was founded on Jan.27, 1955.
Its first set of students began classes at the premises of Lagos Anglican Primary School, Broad Street, Lagos, with Miss Busola Philips, later Mrs Busola Olumide, as the principal.
She regrets that those virtues are less emphasised in modern schooling, stressing that old time schooling is known for discipline and had broad-based education.
The former head girl strongly believes that LAGGS is an epitome of old school and has so many reputable old students to show for its commitment to the development of total child,’’ she says.
Benson argues that water-tight all-round training by old schools resulted in high morals and preservation of societal values.
“These days, you find students wondering on the streets.
“In our days, if you were caught by the principal, you were going back to your parents. It sounds ridiculous but it paid off on the long run,’’ she says.
Another product of old-time schooling, Mrs Omobolanle Durojaiye, observes that there is no longer discipline in schools.
She also regrets that teachers are no more rewarded adequately.
She adds that lateness was well penalized under old-time schooling while loitering was forbidden, as teachers worked with commitment to produce future leaders while students were teachable.
“When it was school time, the teacher would stand at the gate, when the bell rang; he or she would be at the gate for any late comer.
“But today, you see students wander around and lackadaisically come to school even when it is 8a.m.
“We were taught to put in our best, which has helped in life,’’ Durojaiye says.
She, however, blames moral decadence in today’s schooling on parents, teachers and the government, insisting that parents are not paying enough attention to their children.
According to Mrs Oreoluwa Olunloyo, an author and retired teacher, who completed secondary education in 1967, old time schooling is synonymous with discipline and hard work.
“It was a lot of fun but with hard work because we had to be the best in everything we did,’’ she observes.
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She believes there is lack of discipline in today’s schooling and blames it on teachers’ non assertion of authority.
“Some teachers have allowed parents to dictate for them how to cope with their children. It was not so in those days,’’ she claims.
Olunloyo, the author of Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning 1-6, believes that this situation led to loss of values.
“Once children understand that hard work can make them comfortable, they we will get there,’’ she says.
The immediate past Head of Service of Lagos State, Mrs Oluseyi Williams, also an old girl of LAGGS, agrees that education in the past was characterised by discipline.
“Some of us did not realise then that it was helping us, but later in life, we realised that it inculcated in us the best values.
She also observes that parents leave much about their children’s training for teachers.
“It was not so in those days,’’ she notes, advising that parents should create time to guide their children aright for a greater future.
According to Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, who finished secondary education in 1979, old time schooling also provides spiritual, academic and social development of a child.
He recalls: “We were taught civics, ethics and even home management; as girls, we were taught how to take care of ourselves.
“For those of us who lived close to the school, we dared not buy sweets in our school uniform; we got home, change and bought whatever we wanted to buy.
“There was what was called the standstill bell which was to ring five minutes before the assembly; this would enable prefects to go round to search for those still in classrooms.
“Those found in the classrooms would kneel on the lawn; we were taught to excel in everything we did.
“We used to kneel on gravels and we would not go home to tell our parents that we knelt on gravels because our parents would ask us what we did and add to the punishment.
“But these days, students will go and call their parents if you give them an ordinary punishment.’’
She also claims that the culture of keeping to time is not being imbibed by students these days.
A lawyer, Miss Emmanuela Chukwudumebi, who enrolled into St Louis Girls’ Grammar School, Mokola, Iba dan in 1996, admits that the products of old-time schooling always feature high level of discipline.
“It cannot be ruled out that schooling these days has lost the discipline of the 60s and 70s but we experienced a bit of it.
Sharing similar sentiments, Miss Evioghene Orivri, an undergraduate of the University of Lagos, says schooling nowadays lacks some values.
She believes that students need high spiritual, moral and academic standards to succeed.
All in all, concerned citizens call for concerted efforts by parents, teachers and relevant authorities to instill disciple in students, promote moral values and improve education standards for a better tomorrow.(NANFeatures)