A 7 year old boy in primary 3 is making his mother’s stomach tie into knots in worry that he might be a perpetual slow learner, because it is such a terrible thing that he just cannot seem to string letters together in his head and read them aloud as words, she fears he may be dumb.
The 7 year old receives the lashes of his mother’s harsh tongue and most likely a few slaps but try as he may, he can’t read.
It would have been better if school would be his safe haven but the pressure in school surpasses that of home because in truth, his problem started in school when all the students instantly create sentences in a fantastic manner and write with the average speed of an infant where he can’t even seem to read not to mention write.
He feels his esteem eat away like leaves attacked by unrelenting pests. He can’t even be free because the other kids look at him and think he is dumb, especially when the teacher deems it right to punish him for being ‘slow’ and compare him to other students thereby subjecting him to being taunted.
There goes the confidence of the boy and the beginning of his self-doubt and manifestation of other problems most of which will be mental all because of the ignorance of the learning environment in matters of mental health. In another society, it wouldn’t be a big problem to understand that the boy has a learning disorder called dyslexia which makes reading a herculean task to his brain and which may or may not recede and completely disappear with age. And in case it does recede, the ridicule will still linger.
A scenario similar to this that I know of happened in a school in Kaduna, hundreds of scenarios similar to this that we may not know of are still happening all over.
I’ve been meaning to write this proposal for a while but I had to target a willing listening ear first and there’s no better one in a position of power than Gov. Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai.
Over the years, he has proven that Kaduna can be a role model educational reform system and is ever ready to attend to anything education. It is on this basis that I write this.
The inclusion of mental health studies in the curriculum of secondary schools will not start in the classroom as the classroom is a teachers territory therefore, it is subject to a teachers knowledge. That is why it has to start with the teachers.
It is my suggestion that all teachers of government schools be trained in the basics of infant and common adult mental health disorders where the signs and how to handle people with such cases will be taught extensively even if for a week.
Again, every private school should be tasked with training their own teachers be it a mathematics or foods and nutrition teacher and all schools must have a trained Guidance Counselor(s) who is to work directly with a government body.
It is after this foundation has been laid that it will be plausible for mental health to be seamlessly taught in schools.
The rise of psychological disorders and diseases is alarming and the main reason why it’s festering on the society is because of ignorance of the majority of the members of the society who chose to condemn rather than redeem.
I believe it is wise to ‘catch them young’, by teaching the future generation about the complexities in personalities and how the brain works in diverse ways which will be a sure way of promoting and fostering tolerance and understanding among them and most importantly, it will mean tackling mental health issues head on.
It is my plea that this suggestion is heard and worked upon by not only the Kaduna State Governor but all those in power and all those who have a say so that majority of Nigeria’s problems (which is due to deep and raging frustration that has been left unchecked) is put in check.