With Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
The problem of truancy or absenteeism as it was common among students in public schools in Kwara State, is not one that sprang up on us suddenly. This age along problem has defied measures to stamp it out by successive administrations. It would be recalled that in an earlier write-up on this malignant malaise I recounted a story that seems to to be a figment of imagination but is rather real. Below is the excerpts: Habeeb’s parents were perplexed and agitated when their son, a 16 -year-old Junior Secondary School 3 student in one of the government owned schools in Ilorin, Kwara State didn’t show up at home after school closing hour on a fateful day. Many things ran through his mother’s mind. Calls made to his mobile phone were not picked and the case was reported to the police. The parents, however, heaved sigh of relief when they were able to contact him on phone the following morning and learnt he eloped to Lagos State en route Togo alongside a school friend to “find greener pasture.” To Habeeb’s mum’s chagrin, the schoolboys’ class teachers and by extension school management had no knowledge of the students absence from school for two weeks prior to formal complaint laid by the affected parents.
However, it was baffling that bona fide students could be missing from class for two consecutive weeks and that development did not as much evoke batting of an eye from their class teachers or perhaps the school wasn’t aware of the runaway students. One wonders if the school like many other public schools in the state have Attendance Register. I recall that in my school days (both primary and secondary), that attendance register was an essential record keeping tool, a book in which the presence or absence of each student is recorded on a daily basis. It is kept in custody of the teacher, who takes attendance twice before the closing hour; in the morning and afternoon. This enabled individual teachers to ascertain whether each student is in school at a particular time or not. The information regarding the number of students present and absent submitted to the head teacher or principal as the case may be, on daily basis. This enabled the school to identify truants and absentees.
The rate at which students in government owned schools engage in truancy calls for concern. These students stay away from school without good reasons. During this time, they engage in activities most at times to satisfy their curiosity. Sadly some of these students stray away from school and become involved in negative activities such as drug abuse, smoking, delinquent behaviour and gangsterism among others. Most times parents are not aware of their children’s truancy.
No doubt, truancy poses a serious threat to learning in most schools. Nevertheless school attendance is an important factor in the development of child’s future as it is believed that academic success often leads to a bright and promising future for a student. Therefore, staying in school is the first step to a good education and in order to achieve academic excellence, the students are required by the to attend school daily.
However, burdened by this problem, the Kwara State government through the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development took a proactive measure to halt the ugly trend. To arrest the situation the state government has adopted the digital clock machine to ensure school attendance. This is incontrovertibly right step in right direction. The device which will be distributed to schools across the state, will be use to monitor school attendance of students and teachers alike.
The machine, according to the state Commission for Education and Human Capital Development, Hajia Bilikisu Oniyangi is cloud based and would enable the ministry to monitor students and teachers school attendance on daily basis. The monitoring would be carried out through the clocks in and clocks out system. It is believed that this system will go a long way to put an end to truancy among students in Kwara schools.
However, away from this, the state government through the Education ministry still needs to address the problem of populated classrooms. Most of the public schools in the state have high students to teachers ratio. When a class is large it affects the teacher-student relationship. Smaller classes help students receive more individual attention from teachers, and having more active interactions with them. Aside this, robust students teacher interaction enhances students academic performances. More so, overt bloated class size is a major factor responsible for falling standard of education.
So, to a large extent, poor classroom management encourages truancy among students. Truancy reflects the inadequacy of the present public educational system, which attaches little or no importance to individuality.
Although there are other factors such as developmental stage, when teenagers seem to be adventurous, sometimes engaging in misdemeanors, peer influence and, background because most homes no longer play the traditional function of bringing up the child in the right manner, but willy nilly the school has more important role to play in stemming the ugly tide of students staying away from school for no good reason.