By David Dimas
Education is historically considered a great equalizer in the Nigerian society, capable of lifting the less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But indeed, society has changed immensely and theatrically over the years. Religious relationships that once existed in our schools have been ruptured.
If you look back in the history of Nigeria, education has never been out of reach for her people because Nigerians understand that education carries both intrinsic as well as instrumental values. The under-privileged like me did all we could not to lose any opportunity to get those values.
Growing up as a boy bred and educated in both the northern and western parts of Nigeria, I was privileged to see and enjoy the thrills, challenges and culture of both regions. Education was a must for me. Current affairs and history of Nigeria were my passion.
As I went to secondary school and later advanced levels in education, I learnt that we live in a country where the constitution gives us right to exercise freedom in an equitable manner and that it is the job of the government to ensure that this freedom is protected and equality prevails within the borders of its society. I also leant that there are developed and developing countries with their peculiar challenges.
Nigeria, being a developing nation, is currently facing many challenges, one of which is religious bigotry.
When a student applies for admission into any university or an applicant prepares his Curriculum Vitae for interview consideration, they all have to deal with the question of religion.
Even though we deny it, many qualified student and candidates have been denied admission and jobs because they come from a religion while others only got in because of a their religion.
Needless to say, such system does nothing but divide the society into different sections because each side exploits this ‘quality’ to their advantage.
The recent hijab wrangle between parents of Muslim students and Baptist High School authority in Osun state has become a national affair—a major religious controversy that is polarizing the general public. It speaks a lot about religious bigotry is fast permeating our educational system.
In writing this article a flashback comes to mind, our parents did not force the school to absolve our culture; instead we were forced to adhere to the school’s culture and dress codes bearing in mind that dress code policies vary from school to school, and there will often be disagreements about what constitutes inappropriate dressing.
In defending the long term concept of uniformity, Professor Wole Soyinka stated that, “The purpose of this is to create common group solidarity distinguished only by age and learning aptitudes, enabling the pupil to imbibe not only a formal education but the sense of place and responsibilities within the overall community.”
Living in the Diaspora, especially in a multi-racial, multi religious society such as the United States of America, I have come to learn that every religion that choose to enforce its interest must bear in mind how it affects others.
Finally, many commentators argue that religion has been a major feature in some historical conflicts and the most recent wave of modern terrorism. We must recognize that greed, unbalanced power, and causeless hatred – not religion – are the causes of most wars, and eliminating these should be our focus. What we owe the next generation is a definition and demonstration of what peace truly is. It is the highest religious aspiration for which we must all work and exist for.
David Dimas is an author, inspirational speaker and IT consultant. He wrote in from Maryland, U.S.A
Email: Ddimas01@yahoo.com; Twitter: @dimas4real