By Ganiu Bamgbose, PhD
Why has it become difficult for parents to let children succeed through the process of failures? A fifteen/sixteen year old child fails UTME and his/her parents are looking for who to talk to so s/he can gain admission still. If that does not work, the children are pushed to the part time programme. Of course these are children whose parents paid so they could be helped with their school leaving examinations. What is surprising is that these parents had probably written JAMB about five times themselves, and one wonders why they think children have to be shielded from the route of failure.
This foundation of “you will not fail” and “you must always get it once” has resulted in young undergraduates audaciously approaching lecturers to say “Sir I didn’t do that course well and I don’t want to fail it”. Some of us find this surprising and wonder what happened to the days when students would say “I didn’t do that course well and I won’t be surprised if I have to rewrite it”. Life has become too negotiable and one wonders why young people cannot be made to realise that failure is a trusted and reliable route to success. It will not and does not have to always happen at the first attempt.
Sadly, the dear children we cannot afford to see fail are now the dull teachers who do not have the mastery of contents, the quack doctors who prescribe wrongly, and the lawless lawyers who know not their own duties and rights not to say defend others’.
What are you teaching the child who knows you have helped him forge his age just to get to school as an underage? When parents forge age for 13 to 14 year old children just to meet the 16 year old condition of schools, one wonders what we are in haste to achieve when the children eventually graduate at 19 with no native intelligence and proper life exposure.
While it cannot be disputed that there is an alarming rate of unemployment in Nigeria, it is also not deniable that there is equally the problem of unemployability. This is because life has been unnecessarily negotiated for many young persons. A father who has been denied promotion at a time and a mother whose slot has been used by someone else but who yet have become accomplished now fear to have their children go through life with its ups and downs. While it is not my argument that one should not strive to make life easy for one’s offspring, my claim is simply that children should be made to realise that life is in phases and seasons. Sometimes it comes with ease and at other times, it takes repeated efforts. Young ones can be made to know that making effort is in itself a kind of success, whether or not it yields immediate results. Moses didn’t get to the promised land but setting out in the first place is an everlasting record. Young ones should be made to know that there is dignity in labour whether it yields immediately or not.
In conclusion, J.K. Rowling got rejection from 12 publishing firms before she finally found a publisher for Harry Potter. Mark Zuckerberg tried out several things before Facebook came to stay. Muhammadu Buhari contested four consecutive times before he became the Nigerian president. Young people must be made to realise that life does not always happen at anyone’s pace. While everyone plans for life, life also happens to everyone as it so wishes and this must be understood as being normal. Failure is one of the known routes to success. Don’t quit when you fail.
Ganiu Bamgbose writes from Lagos State University.