This is a dilemma. Parents are in precarious situation. I mean Nigerian parents. Again, I mean Nigerian parents who do not hold the Big Knife that cuts the national cake and do not have access to the table where the cake is being cut and eaten. It is a serious issue. We live in a time where government says, and continue to say it repeatedly, that the poor should choose between feeding their kids and sending them to school.
Don’t be so naive to think Nigerian rulers actually said the above word for word in the literal sense. They will not come out to say this openly due to their adeptness at inflicting untold hardships on the masses. It is not through a spoken language that is conventionally communicated through their spokespersons; it is through a well understood body language. I understand it. You understand it. We are all in the know.
When Boko Haram declared war against secular education, it did so violently and the news got across the globe. But our government, through its policies, has also declared war against schooling—against education. Why this is not gaining global attention is because the war is not fought in a conventional battle field where casualties are easily ascertained. It is also not a complete war that spares no soul. It is a discriminatory war where only the masses are victims. Only the masses suffer casualty because they are selectively hunted down. Boko Haram was not discriminatory. It is against anyone who goes to school—irrespective of your social status.
But the government is discriminatory. Its war against education is not a total war. It is only aimed at the masses. It kills its own public schools which it built by tax payers’ money. While doing that, it grants licenses to private school owners just to make sure that schooling is not an option for the poor. But because Nigerian parents are desperate to see their children educated, they struggle to enrol their wards into these schools. This seems unpleasing to some of our rulers who think education should be the monopoly of children born within the ruling class. Another missile was fired. And it hit the target.
It hit the masses and caused unquantifiable damages. It was well calculated. It was well planned. We are all feeling it. No one was spared. It is as if the ruling class held a conference among themselves and came up with a communique which reads: “Let’s make life unbearable for them. Let’s make them think of nothing but food. Let’s reduce them to eating beings—created for food only (FFO). Let’s mop up the grains in markets and give it back to them in form of pretentious palliatives which will only get to any household who is “fortunate” to get a cup of rice or a little more. Doing this, we would be able to create food scarcity and make staples prohibitively costly for them to afford. If we are able to achieve this, that school which they insist their children must attend, along with our children, will be a daydream.”
If you cannot perceive what it is going on under this regime like executing what is written in the purported communique above, it is perhaps because you belong to the ruling class or you are privileged to be a beneficiary of their recklessness. The removal of oil subsidy which is said to be against the criminal rich to supposedly benefit the masses has been a ruse. Or could it just be that my basic knowledge of Economics is faulty? We were told money saved from the stoppage of subsidy will be invested in health, education, job creation, etc. We were told, before subsidy removal, that N400 billion will be saved monthly. And “truly”, just a little over two months, Federal Government boasted to have saved over a trillion naira which would have been squandered by smugglers and fraudsters. Those who benefitted from the trillion of naira saved, we were told, got a cup of rice. Ridiculous.
What kind of logic is this? When the thieves were stealing subsidy money, the masses could still struggle to pay their school, hospital, and utility bills. But now that the thieves were prevented—by our corruption-free government—from stealing subsidy money, the masses could neither feed themselves nor pay a bill. Who is fooling who? If the allegedly saved money from subsidy had been used to pay the country’s mountainous debt, perhaps the masses will understand and endure the hardship hoping that good days are ahead. If the removal of subsidy had only consequently increased cost of transportation and other commodities while the masses could manage to feed and afford to pay school and hospital bills, that would have also been understandable. We can patiently console ourselves that we cannot get it all. But the reality is that we have lost it all.
Our streets are literally dotted by young lads—many in their adolescence—smoking weeds. They are so addicted to drugs the same way some public office holders are addicted to stealing public funds. They are not only a nuisance to the community, they are serious threats to our future and the future of other innocent children who might mingle with them. Facing this ugly reality, one can understand the dilemma of responsible parents who will have to choose between feeding the children and sending them to school to prevent them from mingling with these drug addicts. Many parents will have to choose one of the options. Any option a parent goes for is inherently dangerous.
If you allow your children go hungry to school so that you can manage to pay their school fees, they might end up stealing. If you are lucky they do not steal and they do not starve to death, what knowledge can the best teacher in this world impart to hungry students? Won’t their going to school be an exercise in futility? One can still be lucky anyway.
No one is even talking about balance diet nowadays. But if you think it is better to feed your children rather than paying their schools fees, can you bear the consequence of having ignorant and uneducated children in this modern world which everything is knowledge based and the economy is knowledge driven? That is if you are lucky that they do not join bad gangs to smoke weeds day and night. If one is unlucky, the consequences will be far destructive. Having uneducated children who are—in addition—drug addicts is like living a meaningless life. May God protect us from this.
My advice for parents, even though it cannot work for many parents, is to consider informal way of educating their children before things hopefully take better shape. Parents can also consider enrolling their students in nearby schools, even if not standard to their taste, to alleviate the burden of committing scarce resources to transportation.We must not surrender to Boko Haram ideology. We should not also allow excruciating government policies which have the same objective of promoting ignorance like that of Boko Haram to weigh us down.
Our children must be educated—even if at the basic level—despite unfriendly government policies. Parents who are fortunate to manageably feed and educate their wards should be very grateful to their Creator. May God guide struggling parents towards the best choice to make between feeding their children and schooling them. And because our Lord is Merciful, He can, in His Mercy, despite government inflicted hardship, help us on feeding and educating our children. We submit our affairs to the Most Merciful.