Eradicating Indiscipline In The Nigerian School System: The Way Forward

Today, our educational policy makers are faced with the problems resulting from improper behaviour of students in the Nigerian school otherwise known as 'indiscipline'. Consequently, the purpose of education which is to teach and learn is usually hampered. While the school is regarded as an institutionalized setting for promoting morals, etiquette, teaching basic skills and subject matter. Therefore, the ability to maintain discipline among students is one of the major factors required for good and effective teaching. This issue is even more compounded since indiscipline is not a problem that has a permanent solution in sight. Emakwu and Eba (2002) submitted that Nigerian education had degenerated into a decadent, morbid institution, plagued with fear of blood thirsty, secret cult members, drug-driven, anarchy and examination malpractice. However, stakeholders are curious and getting more worried about indiscipline that has become a major obstruction to educational advancement in Nigeria, most especially when the inculcation of self-discipline in the youths is one of the major goals of Nigerian education.

What is Indiscipline?

Indiscipline can be defined as the act of deviating from the accepted rules and norms of society, such as disobedience, stealing, dishonesty, sexual immorality or offenses, assault, drug abuse, truancy, malpractice, etc. Close examination and analyses of listed offenses, clearly reveals that the youth of today are more indulged in those vices under the umbrella of getting liberated.

Although students' behavior is a reflection of the larger society, which has become more depraved, the educational system has become cosmetic and less thorough in the discipline.

One of the most serious problems defining indiscipline is the fact that most people have widely divergent views on the subject. To some, indiscipline means the ability to control one's behavior. Others see it as non-conformity to rules and regulations. However, it should be observed that in our present social system, our style of life is deeply-rooted in moral bankruptcy. Values in the current culture are held sufficiently sacred to be invisible by those who feel a compelling need for change. In fact, many people believe that any existing institution of values should be challenged. Poverty, ethnic discrimination, and corruption now stare us in the face. Our school system also seems to be part of the problem because it doesn't teach what is expected to be teaching the students. Instead, it appears as a vast sorting machine that sifts the privileged from the disadvantaged and maintains the stratified order of an unjust materialistic society.

However, the definition of indiscipline varies from person to person due to perception, understanding, and environment. It becomes obvious that the standard of behavior expected of an individual solely depends on certain factors such as the religious beliefs of the individual concerned; the traditional beliefs of the society; the parental background and expectation, and the personality of the observer, summed up by socio-cultural environment and personal idiosyncrasy.

Causes of Indiscipline

Various factors cause indiscipline in Nigerian schools, and they include psychological factors, physical-plant factors, method of teaching, societal influence, parental influence, and the media.

Psychological Factor: A lot of youths today seem to rebel against society by engaging in problematic behavior because of their self-perception as being capable of doing things on their own without control from any quarters. Without a doubt, such youths will definitely create problems of indiscipline for school authorities because they have regard for academic achievement. A student who does not care to do well academically will portray the following signs in the school: fighting, misbehavior, general social maladjusted, and truancy.

Physical-Plant Factor: The importance of a good physical-plant factor can't be overemphasized in the development of educational programs such that school buildings and educational goals should be viewed as interdependent. Failure to provide adequate physical structures to foster teaching and learning will generate indiscipline among students and staff in the school. However, there is bound to be indiscipline in the school if the school lacks the essential facilities that make life comfortable for students, such as insufficient classrooms, poor housing, lack of good water and electricity supply, etc.

Method of Teaching: The teacher's approach or method of teaching can cause indiscipline in the school, especially when the students discover the weakness of the teacher either as a result of a lack of knowledge of the subject matter or an inability to communicate effectively. So students in this predicament tend to lose confidence in such teachers and direct their attention to extra academic activities during lectures or boycott lectures.

Social Influence: Society is a complex institution composed of all kinds of different diverse behaviors. Since the youth has to live with society, it becomes obvious that they can be easily indoctrinated into what goes on in society. A society where corruption is no longer regarded as a crime but virtue is automatically exposed to indiscipline. Hence, we are breeding students who strongly see cheating, drug trafficking, and lying as smartness rather than corruption.

Parental Influence: Unacceptable behavior of some youth in society is a reflection of their home upbringing. An adage says, 'charity begins at home. A child who is not well brought up will definitely be difficult to control outside the home. Most students who fall within this category are careless about leading a demonstration at school or beating up a teacher who tries to correct them.

Media: The exposure of youths to both print and electronic media can create indiscipline in schools. Most television programs contain some form of violence, and children spend some hours watching such acts of violence. In the same vein, the type of stories read in various magazines, both locally and internationally, significantly influences the youth's behavior.

The Extent of the Problems

Having a close examination of our schools today would clearly show that indiscipline is more rampant in schools located in urban areas than those located in rural areas. Notable among these acts of indiscipline are assaults on students and teachers, stealing, drug addiction, violence, and destruction of property in schools.

In the past, the school was regarded as a temple of development, but today it's fast becoming a dungeon such that school rules are being questioned and challenged; students openly defy teachers and attack one another. Society now looks upon the school as the only savior that can help our youth to develop responsible and effective social behavior.

The Way Forward

From the above review of the problems, causes, and extent of the indiscipline as it affects both the youth and the society, it is apparent that we know the problem very well, the causes only moderately well, and the solutions least well of all. In order to rectify the already enumerated problems l, our educational system must be redesigned do as to instill in our youths the need to be discipline-conscious in their daily activities, refrain from all kinds of vices, and have respect for our culture, and most importantly, respect for elders which is a very important aspect of Nigerian education code of behavior.

In addition, I suggested that any design for our education system should focus on an appropriate response to the needs of the individual learner, child-oriented-learning and the learner must be made to understand that his personal freedom and privileges must be balanced against his duties and responsibilities to the society in order to achieve a healthy nation.

Conclusively, every Nigerian youth should cooperate to make an effort to eradicate indiscipline a huge success by contributing in his or her own ways to the positive achievement of our educational goals.

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