By Titi Adewusi
Watching children of middle class parents play 9ijakids, a Nigerian Citizenship Game, made it glaring that there is a major gap in our children’s education.
The same game played by children from less privileged backgrounds revealed a different result. For those that could read, they fared significantly better in the game. They knew how many states there are in Nigeria and the capital of Nigeria. These kids also displayed a strong level of resilience. They didn’t give up easily when they encountered difficult questions and were eager to keep trying to play the game till they got it right and got high scores. Thomas Edison who invented the light bulb said “the most certain way to succeed is to just try one more time.”
Many Nigerian children think the favourite sports of Nigerians is karate. Many also do not know the current President of Nigeria nor the governor of Lagos State, which would be asking for too much.
As parents, we need to ask ourselves some difficult questions. Are we providing the right foundation for our children to be leaders of Nigeria of the future? Are we doing a bit too much for them thereby crippling important character traits such as drive, determination, perseverance and the can do attitude? Are we imbibing the notion that anything about Nigeria is not worth learning about or bothering about?
Today, my kids go to a school with a mix of British and Nigerian curriculum. I question the Nigerian part though, because they barely touch the surface of creating a deep wealth of knowledge and pride in being Nigerian. Though living in Nigeria, our kids are becoming coconuts – black on the outside but completely white on the inside.
Our kids would more readily name more states in America than they can in Nigeria. They know all major landmarks in London, America, Paris and South Africa but have never been to Olumo Rock or heard of Yankari Games Reserve. They know all the Presidents of America but maybe only 1 or 2 past Nigerian Presidents. They learn about King Henry VIII but never heard of Queen Amina of Zaria or King Jaja of Opobo.
My sister lives in Dubai and teaches at a British International School. It was interesting to note that Arabic is compulsory for everyone till Year 9 and not only that, they also learn a lot about UAE and Dubai. So I am always surprised when I meet children who live and school in Nigeria (both nationals and foreigners) who because they go to schools with what they call “purely” British/American curriculum, are taught completely nothing about Nigerian history, culture, and not one Nigerian language.
We cannot undo the mistakes of the past but we should start now to entrench our children in our culture and instill a sense of pride in being Nigerian. Our children are the future leaders of tomorrow. How can they lead a country they are ashamed of or have been taught to despise? As a parent, what do you say and do to make your children proud to be Nigerians? Do you tell only the bad narrative about our great country? Do you make it seem like nothing good can come out of Nigeria? Do you throw away the baby with the bath water?
Let’s change our narrative. Proudly 9ija!!!
Titi Adewusi is the Vice President of 9ijakids.com, an edutech company that develop fun and educational learning games for children on B&HAVE (Bible, Heritage, Academics, Values and Entrepreneurship).