Mrs. Gladys Biem Calvin was worried. Little Nihyel-Amini had returned home with an assignment from school. Th e 6-year old primary one pupil and his friends had English text that no child should read. Worried, his mother called to let me know the danger our children were being exposed to through books like Sonyia and the River and other texts we need to look out for. I encouraged her to write a piece and put it up on social media because not only should Nihyel be protected but all children in our country.
Th e following is her post which she aptly titled: SUBTLE SEXUALIZATION OF OUR CHILDREN and reads: Yesterday, my 6-year old son, a class one pupil, returned home with the book “Sonyia and the River” as his reading assignment for the day.
It is a 51-page book, purportedly written by a 15-year old. While acknowledging the eff ort, skill and talents of the young writer, I however have my concerns. Th e story was about a girl who fell in love, disobeyed her mum and went away all day with the young lover man, instead of going to the river to fetch water for home use, which led to her being kidnapped by spirit beings, and was taken to the spirit world.
Th e said boyfriend in a bid to show his love to the girl, embarked on a rescue mission and in the process was also entangled with the spirit world. A careful perusal of the book, revealed the following disturbing realities: Th e book is strong worded and contains pictures unsuitable for a 6-year old, class one pupil. Th ere were phrases like “fallen in love” incantations, (pg. 7 n 10) etc.
At this age, my boy should be learning how to positively impact his generation and not what it means to “fall in love” and watching bare chested women. Second, the story portrays issues that contradict our faith. It gave excessive and undue credence to spirit world and beings, the magical powers they possess and consequences of confronting them.
Th is could be spooky for the young imaginative mind of a 6-year old. Th ird, the book is grammatically fl awed, sentences are incorrectly put, and words are misspelt (pgs. 27, 30). One wonders the essence the book was recommended for study. Fourth, the story implies jealousy, violence, deception, a belief in wicked spirit beings, the power of charms, etc. Th is is against our belief of the existence of a loving Creator.
Fifth, the story is inconsistent and may raise questions in these young minds for instance, somewhere in pg6 it shows the immortality of spirit beings, whereas on pg. 21, it showed spirit beings could be killed. Mortality and immorality cannot characterize one being.it is either one or the other. Mrs. Calvin ended her post by calling on parents to always carefully examine materials, churned out to their children under the guise of education and not sublet their duty to the schools.
Predictably, the post had lots of parents commenting on how much they have to wrestle with including immoral cartoons, inordinate exposure of children to X-rated words and the violence in the country that daily terrifi es children. One would have thought Nihyel’s school in Abuja is alone in its predicament until again a group of distressed parents from Crescent Schools Victoria Island Lagos purposely sent a petition addressed to the Minister of Education to our organization on secondary school curriculum which they titled: Our Complaint and Observations on the Immoral Contents in Our Curricula .
Th e Petition reads: We, the Parent-Teacher Association of Crescent College, Victoria Island, Lagos, are constrained to bring to your notice that we have observed that it has become the tradition of the National Examinations Council (NECO) to recommend junior secondary literature textbooks that fall short of moral standards that our nation’s educational system should be promoting. More specifi cally, the books are nothing but a means of glamorizing acts of indecency such as rape, violence, kidnapping, girl defi lement and sexualisation of knowledge. Th e books expose the vulnerable and unsuspecting minds of 10-12 year olds to amorous and deviant practices that can in turn breed rapists, cultists, homosexuals and kidnappers in youngsters.
Th e prevalence of cases of rape among secondary students in recent times cannot be unconnected with the urge to experiment with the experience they have from such books. For example, Th e Precious Child, by Queen O. Okweshine, gave a vivid description of a young lady’s body as follows: If only I can fi nd a sweet 16 to cool me down. But these eaglets with their fronts and backs fully set. Waaoo, those tender breasts that gyrate in provocating rhythm which seem to say (pushes his chest forward) ‘I swear to God.’ (page 56) In the same vein, another book, ‘Th e Tears of a Bride’ authored by Oyekunle Oyedeji, an accountant, is another reason to make a responsive and responsible parent feel concerned about the kind of a
dults schools are grooming our children to be. Th e story is centred on two characters, Ajibike and Akofe, who are passionately in love, with Araba, the staff bearer, not allowing them to be. Th e author throws caution and modesty to the dogs as refl ected in the following excerpts: 1. Lights open on Akofe and Ajibike lying criss-cross on the ground with Ajibike’s head on Akofe’s chest and his arms wrapped around her. Akofe’s eyes are closed as he savours the splendour of the moment. His index fi nger runs through her body, drawing imaginary lines with its tip. Ajibike curiously raises her head from his chest to look into his face, only to discover a wide smile is playing therein.
(page 10) 2. Tell them also that the breast of a woman in a man’s mouth tastes better than the best of palm wine (page 86) 3. Araba comes out of his house bare to the waist and readjusts his wrapper. Romoke cries weakly as she comes out from the house holding her wrapper to her chest to prevent it from falling off her body. Araba has just defi led her. (page 91) Furthermore, the tradition of literary immorality has recently graduated to the level of Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) as observable from the blamable content of its recommended Use of English text for the 2017 UTME.
Th e book is succinctly described by the author, thus: It is the story of two people struggling to fi nd themselves and each other – a story of passion and idealism, courage and betrayal, and the universal desire to fall madly, deep, in love. Nothing short of this enamored description of love is depicted by the storyline. In fact, our students who sat the current UTME found it morally distasteful, to say the least. Our Requests In view of the negative eff ects of books like these on the morals of our children and the family system, the foundation of our society, we, therefore, request as follows:
1. Th ere should be objective content analysis of books meant for learners’ consumption, before they are certifi ed fi t for school use by the appropriate organ of the ministry.
2. We request that such books (even as they aff ect other subjects) are withdrawn from use immediately considering the extent of their incalculable potential damage to the youths now and in future.
3. To forestall a recurrence, we demand that the process that led to the adoption of the books is investigated and whosoever is found culpable is sanctioned appropriately.
4. We implore the Ministry of Education to do everything possible within its powers to put a stop to the use of such books immediately.
5. We implore the Ministry to recommend, henceforth, books that teach values such as honesty, integrity, decency, hard work and selfl essness, which seek to promote humanity in our youngsters, in the interest of our nation.
A careful reading of the petition would betray an annoyingly distasteful and worrisome situation. How low can we get to allow children sink to this descent where their morality is corrupted by a major sector of their socialization?
What is the Ministry of Education doing that such sewage would be pumped into young, impressionable children and teenagers who are vulnerable and may not be able to decipher right from wrong?
Th erefore, the column this week will do more than just write or reproduce petitions. Th is is a call to action. We therefore call on all parents to evaluate the texts available to their children and wards and join in the #SayNoToImmoralChildEducation campaign. We call on the Minister of Education to save our future by immediately calling off those immoral books from our curriculum.
We enjoin media houses to take on commentaries on this grave matter and call on Civil Society Organizations, Stakeholders, Faith-Based organizations to join in until we save our children from this impending doom. N.B. Please look out for my page on Facebook: Gloria M. Ballason for further details on this matter.