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8-9 years in JSS 1 - violating JSS1 admission policy

I read some shocking comments from stakeholders who  typically should be the ones ensuring that  policies are followed thoroughly.

The national education policy stipulates that a pupil should complete his or her Basic Six at the primary school level before proceeding to the junior secondary school BUT an increasing number of parents are conniving with owners of some schools to violate the policy.

Where do we get our ideas from? Read this comment from a school administrator. "The decision to allow a child to complete Basic Six class lay with the parent. If a child is mature enough to get into secondary school; the parents may go ahead. And if the child has successfully covered his entire syllabus at end of Basic Five, he should be allowed into secondary school".

“What goes on in Basic Six class is revision and exam preparations.  However, if a child isn’t physically mature to enter secondary school after Basic Five, then the parents should allow him complete Basic Six.  Maturity is the key word here. I believe a child should be at least 10 years old before he or she can go to secondary school. One extra year would not harm the child. Rather, it would benefit the child".

Dear ma, did you say 10 years old? I have seen 8-9 year olds entering secondary school just as you may have seen many of them too here in Nigeria. A few of them may fare well but their peers certainly catch up with them in the future. The curriculum researchers and developers understand that the implication of an age benchmark for entry into JSS 1 is key to achieving high results. No wonder the 'half-baked' scenario continues to thrive. 

What does Erik Erikson's psychosocial theory teach us? Children between ages 7-11 are at a stage called the 'Industry vs Inferior'. It is at this stage that children are busily learning how to be competent or productive OR feel inferior and are unable to do anything. His next stage is the 'adolescent' stage which starts at 11 ( the age where secondary school should begin ). Erik called it the 'Identity vs Role Confusion', where questions such as 'Who am I?' begins to be asked. They establish sexual, ethnic and career identities OR are confused what role to play. You might say, 'but it is only a year or two earlier'- those years are crucial in growth. It could simply change a girls menstrual cycle and a boy's sexual orientation.

So, why are those found guilty of these acts helping to breed confusion in their children instead of confidence through early forceful entry? It is so shameful that some parents are participating in forging birth certificates just to enter secondary school earlier? A child I know has 3 different ages, one she gives to her teachers, another to her classmates and then the real age to closer family ties! It won't be kind to expect her to be a truthful person in the future.

You find that with the 'true' mature learner, the process of education is less stressful and better decisions are taken as a result of achieving a well adjusted social behavior alongside biological changes. I know that the younger a person was during my school age years, the higher their chances of being muddled up.

It is a fact that a tiny percentage of human beings are geniuses and education policies are formed with a populace in mind. Learning isn't only a cognitive process; it is equally emotional, social, psychological and physical.


Bullying in Schools - What can we do?

One of the big questions that worries most parents are:  Are my children safe when they're not with me? The 'ALUU 4' killings happened as a result of the effect of an inherent 'bullying' tradition. Parents know that kids are often reluctant to tell them about bullying.  Consequently, many parents are finding it increasingly harder to know if their kids are safe and protected at school. How would you define bullying? What comes to mind immediately? Fighting, obtaining, slander, pushing, shoving, name calling, insulting, and taunting are some that resonates in the mind. Any type of physical or verbal harassment where the intent is to harm someone is considered bullying.

According to Federal Ministry of Education (2007), since the last decade, several cases of violence against children such as torture, kidnapping, shooting, sexual harassment, rape, corporal punishment and so on have been reported in various newspapers, magazines and television stations all over the world. In Nigeria, even though cases of bullying had been reported in many schools, this deviant act is not always given any desirable attention. Furthermore, there are no available statistical facts to show the actual number of students that are bullied or victims in Nigerian schools. 

Some myths about bullying include:
  • It’s part of life.
  • Boys will be boys.
  • It happens at all schools; don’t worry
  • Sticks and stones will hurt my bones but words will never harm me.
  • Bullying never did me any harm.
  • It’ll toughen you up.

I don't accept any of the above. Some adults are scarred for life as a result of bullying. The fact remains that every child matters and one can never really know how bullying may affect a particular child.

Here are some tips for school administrators and teachers that will help reduce the incidence of bullying.

  • Adopted anti-bullying programs.
  • Ensure the school has a trained counsellor/psychologist
  • Fill the school with posters and slogans
  • Create conflict resolution lessons as part of the curriculum
  • Invite guest speakers
  • Provide in-service training to all staff
  • Monitor hot spots around the school with appropriate student/teacher ratios (hallways, cafeteria, playground, parking lots, and buses.
  • Distribute policy statements to students and parents.
  • Seek parent involvement on committees
  • Conduct parent meetings.
  • Utilize student and parent surveys to gather data.
  • Document reported incidents.
  • Provide counseling support.
  • Involve parent organizations and the police department.
  • Review and evaluate everything.
All of the above is as worthless only if the school has the leadership to make things happen. No one is going to care more about your child than her most important teacher, nurturer, and protector which is you.


27 minutes of sleep and the trouble maker

Twenty-seven minutes of sleep could be the difference between a quick tempered or cranky, distracted trouble-maker and a well-behaved student. According to an experimental study published in the November 2012 issue of Pediatrics, slightly increasing the amount of time children sleep results in improved alertness, impulse control, and emotional stability throughout the school day.

"Even small changes in daily life that can allow children to add about a half hour of sleep could have a significant impact," said study author Reut Gruber, director of the attention behavior and sleep lab at the Douglas Institute in USA. "Extending sleep opens the door to an effective, feasible way to improve children's health and education.

The study looked at 34 healthy students ages 7 to 11. For one week, half the students went to sleep earlier than usual, gaining, on average, 27 minutes of sleep. The other half of study participants pushed bedtime back, resulting in 54 minutes of sleep lost.

Teachers then monitored the two groups of students noted “significant differences” in the behavior of the two sets of students. Well-rested children were found to be more attentive and in control of their emotions. Students who were sleep-deprived not only appeared tired, but they were also more likely to become frustrated, cry, or lose their tempers.

A foundation in the United States of America called the National Sleep Foundation recommends children ages 5-12 sleep 10-11 hours each night.

Are your kids getting enough sleep every night? I just recently began to crack down on bedtime routine. Are you dealing with bedtime routines properly? I suggest you do, now you know its effect on your child's education.

If he is losing his temper, fighting incessantly, losing focusing and making a lot of mistakes; be sure that no 'spirit' has taken over him (lol). He may just need more sleep.


Britain revises 'History' lessons while Nigeria removes 'History' lessons in secondary schools.

I wrote a piece about the removal of History as a subject in our secondary schools. (see 'EDU-INFO: REALLY? NO MORE HISTORY!' in my older posts). I read this excerpt from The Daily Mail UK concerning Britain's education sector's plan for the subject we are neglecting.

History lessons will be rewritten to include 200 key figures, such as Winston Churchill, and events which shaped Britain under a new national curriculum drawn up by education secretary Michael Gove. The current syllabus, previously attacked for being too politically correct, will be scrapped with the intention of giving children a deeper understanding of history.

Under new plans school children will learn a narrative about British history and key international developments, including the fall of the Roman Empire, the union that created Britain and the decline of its power.

Secondary school children aged between 11 and 14 will move on to 50 wider topics about the modern world, including Soviet-U.S. relations and how they shaped the world, as well as the influence of immigration on British society. Teachers' from the Prince's trust are saying that in history, for example, they do not see how you can have a good foundation of knowledge without understanding the chronology of events.’ 

The current version of citizenship, which includes topics such as identities and diversity and how to negotiate, plan and take action has been cut back from 29 pages to one for 11 to 14-year-olds.The new syllabus will focus on the British monarchy and parliamentary democracy as well as theories on liberty and rights.

In geography, primary children will study physical features, the nature of rocks, rivers and mountains, the names of countries and the characteristics of countries as well as how glaciers shape landscapes. Later on in secondary school the topics will become more specific, including aspects of human geography, like the industrial expansion of Asia.

This follows criticisms of the current curriculum for failing to ensure children learn about human and physical processed which shape geography.

Does this surprise you? If History is being revised to better suit the students by countries such as Britain whose educational standard is not to be compared with ours, then it's relevance cannot be overemphasized. What could have informed the decision to remove History as a subject in secondary school? I wonder which way we are going. 


Curriculum Chaos --- The students get confused

Just as the world has become more sophisticated in other spheres; so has significant changes taken place in education management. Insufficient time to adapt to the changes confuses the educators. Sometimes they try to do the right things in a wrong way. Even educators who are open to change are uncertain about what kind of changes will be most effective and how best to go about making them. Frustration and despondency abound as well as the sense that "we're already doing so much - how can we possibly do more".

Curriculum improvement is an ongoing international trend that mirrors changes in the society and teaching methodology. I believe that a move to an ‘outcome-based education’ is imperative but it will present Nigerian educators with a challenging and significant ‘paradigm–shift’.

Some of the new curriculum introduced these days have become quite chaotic and too hard for children and even teachers. Just because some curriculum is applied in one school, another school is quick to copy it without understanding how it's used, when to use it and its relevance. The inconsistency of curriculum choices made by the school leaves the students more confused as they go. Today, it's the British curriculum, tomorrow, its Nigerian and next it is the American....chaotic, isn't it?. A holistic approach is ideal in designing curriculum but it MUST be generally consistent even when introducing modifications. 

A good curriculum has many distinct features but if your curriculum embodies the following, then you are off to a good start! 

  • promotes interactive learning and encourage the construction of knowledge
  • encourages active learning
  • fosters exploration and inquiry, rather than focusing on “right” answers or “right” ways to complete a task.
  • encourages development of positive feelings and dispositions toward learning while leading to acquisition of knowledge and skills
  • helps achieve social, emotional, physical, and cognitive goals and promotes sustainable relevance to our core cultural values.
  • promotes and encourages proper social interaction
If not, you have so much more to consider. Build a curriculum that leaves room for modification because education is evolving in nature. Consistency should be a key element so that it does not lead to confusion among the learners. A confused learner can easily translate to a frustrated learner.


TELL-A-VISION - The 'Nicki Minaj' and company influence

Am I repeating the TV issue? I guess I just can't help it! The nudity I see in music videos these days.....I cannot shout! How about the 'kissing' and 'love scenes' in some cartoons?

A close friend of mine (a style/image consultant) in Canada recently wrote a paper on the influence of television on children and youths of today. 'TELL A VISION' she termed it, there is more to come from her. 

You see, what we watch directly influences us; it could breed unwanted thoughts and desires unknowingly. The media has influenced self-identity and even caused vulnerabilities and some shameful youthful exuberances! 

My friend said that our ontology (the branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being), has been influenced by the technological lens. This is true. Girls, are you aware that some of these experiences have gender bias? Watch all the music videos, young girls get exposed for sexual desires and men are meant to sit back and enjoy the view? It is very embarassing and quite sad! This has contributed to the downward slope of gender equality and discrimination. Many teenage women have interesting role models - the Nicki Minajs,  Rihannas, Lady Gagas etc of this world! Don't get me wrong, they are talented artistes but the image they render in the delicate minds of our youth is my focus.

The sense of style, nudity and sexual innuendos created in the mind of our children/youth undermine the education and opportunities other 'exemplary' role models present. Young boys aspiring to look like rap stars; dragging and sagging pants,  using slurred speeches, wearing unbefitting jewellery etc. - this magic world of the Internet and TV screens is changing our children's lives much more than it should.

I could go on and on but what we must do is to protect our children so they can tell-a-good-vision! The 'Nicki Minaj persona' shouldn't dictate the culture of our tomorrow's youth.


Myth buster: Am I stuck with the same IQ all my life? NO!

Many people think of IQ as a genetic trait like eye color, something you're born with and stuck with for life.....? But mounting evidence is shedding a different light.
A growing body of research is showing that a person's IQ can rise—and even fall—over the years and through an individual's lifetime.

IQ or intelligence quotient is a score that is supposed to quantify your level of intelligence. I read that what defines intelligence is still up for debate - that a predetermined IQ isn't necessarily an accurate measurement. But it has been long assumed that our scores do not change; that we are stuck with the intelligence we were born with. Well, it is not true.

"[Some] assert that an individual's intelligence is a fixed quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism."
- Alfred Binet, inventor of the original IQ test, 1909

Fola (name changed) is a child I have taught for 2 years. She has always been  a 'weak' student. She found it quite difficult to assimilate lessons taught across all subjects. All teachers had the same to say about her situation. Upon enquiry, I discovered that she wasn't followed up and made to study as much as she should have, because her grades had been consistently low. She definitely needed more lesson time. After a whole session had passed, changes were made to study habits and we saw a significantly higher percentage of improvement. One that made her not to re-do the year again.

One study shows changes in IQ after just a few weeks of effort. 33 British students were given IQ tests and brain scans at ages 12 - 16 and again about 4 years later, 9% of the students showed a significant change of 15 points or more in IQ scores. These changes were not due to measuring errors because the MRI's showed changes in gray matter which is linked to IQ. Am I surprised? No! We, the teachers see improvements daily especially when extra efforts are put in.

It was found that people with a lower IQ (between 75-90 range) are usually at a risk of dropping out of secondary school while those with a higher IQ possibly attain higher social intelligence.  There is a need to help the 'weaker' kids to improve scores AND those who are average can be supported to also achieve higher scores. Nigeria is in dire need for a lot more intellectuals in many fields of interest; so we have to 'up' our efforts to reduce student dropout ratios and produce more graduands.

We are not stuck with any level of IQ! Since IQ can change, there seems to be no harm in helping your child to boost their scores through changes in study patten and improved practice time. Being branded with a low IQ at a young age, in other words, is like being born poor. Due to family circumstances and the mechanisms of society, most people born poor will remain poor throughout their lives. But that doesn't mean anyone is *innately* poor or destined to be poor; there is always potential for any poor person to become rich. 

The exciting reality is that IQ scores:
  • measure developed skills, not native intelligence.
  • can change dramatically.
  • say nothing about a person's intellectual limits.



To all the wonderful Teachers spread across the globe, I say HAPPY TEACHERS' DAY to you all! Your efforts in grooming the world is celebrated today every year. I am extremely proud to be part of this celebration.

World Teachers' Day, held annually on October 5th since 1994, commemorates teachers’ organizations worldwide. Its aim is to mobilize support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers.
According to UNESCO, World Teachers' Day represents a significant token of the awareness, understanding and appreciation displayed for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development.

To all true teachers' and my future 'CELEBUTORS', this is for you.

A Teacher for All Seasons

A teacher is like Spring,
Who nurtures new green sprouts,
Encourages and leads them,
Whenever they have doubts.
A teacher is like Summer,
Whose sunny temperament
Makes studying a pleasure,
Preventing discontent.
A teacher is like Fall,
With methods crisp and clear,
Lessons of bright colors
And a happy atmosphere.
A teacher is like Winter,
While it's snowing hard outside,
Keeping students comfortable,
As a warm and helpful guide.
Teacher, you do all these things,
With a pleasant attitude;
You're a teacher for all seasons,
And you have my gratitude!

By Joanna Fuchs

Bill to restrict children of office holders from studying abroad?

Very funny! Sometimes, our politicians make us look like we are all illiterates. Where is the place of this bill on our scale of priority of measures to be taken to seriously improve Nigeria's education standards? Or is this not one of those that will end up being trashed in the bin after they have glorified their ineffectiveness once again? How is this a drastic measure? How does it affect the millions of Nigerian children affected with the poor state of education we are facing. Read this.

A bill which seeks to prevent children of public office holders from schooling abroad has passed second reading in the Senate.
The bill, if passed, will restrict children of public office holders from schooling abroad except for specialized courses not offered in any of the country’s educational institutions.
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Mohammed Basheer (PDP Kano) said the country’s education sector is confronted with serious challenges and it has become important for the Senate to adopt drastic measures to rescue the ailing educational system.
The bill was among three bills which passed second reading in the Senate earlier without being debated.
If we look into this, more than three quarters of the Senators have their kids schooling abroad, or about to make a plan to, or  even have completed their studies abroad. And we all know that this will not stop.
The sponsor of the bill noted that “it has become important for the Senate to adopt drastic measures to rescue the ailing educational system.

Sir, this is an unrealistic measure. Please can you do a proper research?


When Technology becomes a family friend. Can it be good?

Technology has made the world “smaller”, making it easy to know what is happening continents away. We now have access to more information than at any other time in history. This includes information about other people, places, new scientific discoveries and ideas different from our own. But how can it be made to good use only?

Give your kids opportunities to explore and learn about the world beyond their backyard. Encourage your teen to get involved in good causes online and through social media; tell them that they are free to get on social media but the criteria is that you MUST have their passwords. You could even share yours so they see that you are open enough (be sure you are clean though)......this goes a long way! Remind your kids that there are also wonderful ways to get involved in communities and causes locally.

Teachers have a role to play in this (especially in schools that have access to some technology). They could expose their students to the use of technology by using it in classrooms and opening forums where they can share assignments, group work and course discussions. This helps to open up a world of the good use of technology to children especially teenagers. I feel that exposing children to all of the technology that we have to offer to them is a good thing--as long as the children understand HOW that technology works and HOW that technology is improving their lives.

For example, a student must first learn what 2 + 2 is and how to compute 2 + 2, manually, before they should be allowed to use the calculator to do the arithmetic for them. ( I am NOT saying a student should or even needs to use the calculator to compute 2 + 2, I just used 2 + 2 as an example). As long as the student can understand and know what the calculator is doing for them, then using the calculator is a beneficial tool but must be used sparingly and only when needed. The calculator allows the student to focus on the bigger picture at hand, such as solving an equation, and does not have them tired down on the arithmetic.

It's here to stay, it's part of their generation. Parents have a huge role to play in guiding and educating their children about the pitfalls of the Internet. It's necessary to start children's education in this area.

Parents should control access to computers and phones etc. of their children. Parents also have the responsibility to learn about these new technologies and social network sites in particular, otherwise they will be extremely baffled by how technology and social network sites work and what they offer - especially in terms of security. Without this knowledge the parents cannot possibly control and help their children.

Parents need to set conditions of use and rules for these devices and one I condition in particular should be this-  that at any time, I (the parent) must have total access to the phone or computer. If not, the device WILL be confiscated. This is to offer protection from materials that may have been sent by third parties, which children have no control over. One study shows that the highest percentage of how students learn to use technology is by  them learning its use by themselves. Nobody needs to teach them, they will use it whether we like it or not! So, I suggest you get on the train and use it alongside them.


Sights and Sounds of the Independence Day Celebrations - LIS Style!

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY NIGERIA! It is my sincere wish that the right decisions are taken for the right reasons at the right time. Nigeria can be great!

Fun day at the Lebanese International School. Some parents made me so proud just by the way they adorned their kids with beautiful traditional Nigerian outfits. Watch this. 

The Stage

grade 2

kg 2

some fulani, some yoruba
Grade 3

grade 5

grade 4
more princesses
A piece of the cake....hehe!