Impact of citizenship education on the civic consciousness of Nigerian youth.
Nigeria is richly endowed with human resources including the youth who remain very vibrant and full of potentials for maximum contribution to national development. However, one thing that seems to be lacking is the ability of the society to tap and harness these immense potentials for productive and positive results. A lot of lapses have been identified in our schooling process in its lack of capacity to make the desired impact on the social lives of the young people. In recent times too, the homes have been found to be very ineffective in their conventional roles as agent of socialization. Parents have become increasingly indifferent and irresponsible in the proper upbringing of their children, as they seem to keep more time out of home in pursuance of money to the detriment of overseeing the moral and social development of their children. According to Iyamu (2003), the government and parents in Nigeria have not done enough to positively and creatively occupy the minds of the youth to the extent that most of them have derailed and veered off the path of moral decency and dignity (Mokwenye, 1990).
Over the years, attention has been on equipping Nigerian youth with the needed values and social attributes that enhance their acceptance, integration and participation in the society (FRN, 1989). Yet, experiences have shown that the youth are finding it increasingly difficult to lead desirable ways of life, particularly in the areas of human relationships, responsibility, respect, obedience and orderliness. Generally, their level of civility has remained low, a phenomenon attributable largely to the lapses of the school and home. Our concern today, therefore, should be to fill the gaps by exposing the youth to appropriate learning experiences and activities that help to raise their civic consciousness and develop appropriate social values and attributes for effective relationships in the society (Grey, 2001). This is part of what citizenship education is about.
Concerted efforts have been made by religious groups, organizations as the Boys Scout, Girls Guide, Red Cross and so on to create forums for young people to gain awareness and understanding of certain desirable values and social attributes needed for effective living. The Ministries of Sports, Information and Youth Development have at different times organized holiday programs to occupy the young in creative ways aimed at mobilizing them for useful living Talah (2002)
In fact, there is a general apprehension that the youth are at a greater risk while the schools are on vacation. According to Milkey (2000), most Nigerian children during school vocation are like sheep without shepherd. They are often left at home with their parents away for work or businesses. During the school period, the teachers provide some custody for the children. Consequently, the children are at risk while on vocation as they are sometimes exposed to negative influences in the absence of their parents or more matured persons to control or protect them. Ofor (1998) and Johnson (2001) have extolled the value of vacation programmes for young people, be they educational, leadership and religious. They believe that they have potency for redirecting the minds and attention of youth to creative and worthy thoughts and ventures. These views provide the conceptual framework for the present study.
There is no doubt about the relevance of citizenship education programme for youth during vacation. However, many people in Nigeria seem to view it as a way of just occupying the young and preventing them from dangers and bad influences. Such views are held perhaps because there are yet not empirical data on the impact of such programmes on the values and socio-civic consciousness of the youth. This study is about the impact of citizenship education programme on the values and civic consciousness of selected Nigerian children. It is on such questions as: What are the appropriate social values and attributes expected of Nigerian youth? What is the importance of civic responsibility in the society? How should children display desirable social values and attributes? The study was aimed at providing answers to the foregoing questions as a means of mobilizing the youth for civic responsibility through the development of desirable values and social attributes.
The following hypothesis was formulated for testing.
The level of civic consciousness of youth will not differ significantly as a result of exposure to a programme of citizenship education.
The study was a quasi-experimental and pre-test post-test design. It used an intact group of 100 youth of 11 to 16 years old who were camped at the Ogba Zoological Garden, Benin City for a four weeks vacation programme. On the first day of the programme, a ten-item four-point questionnaire was used to assess the children's value orientations and civic consciousness. The items covered moral values, civic responsibility, tolerance and getting along well with others. The response options were strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree, weighted 4,3,2 and 1. The midpoint of the scale that is 2.5 was taken as the theoretical acceptable means. The Z-test of significant difference between two sample means was used for the data analysis.
Result of Pre-test
N Sample Mean Std. Dev. 100 2.01 3.9
After the pre-test, the subjects were exposed to five interactive sessions during which they were taught topics related to social values and attitudes, constitutional awareness; the need for civic responsibility; display of desirable values and resisting anti-social values and behaviours. Each of the sessions that lasted 40 minutes per day consisted presentations by the teachers (the researchers) and activities by the learners (children). These were as follows:
1. Social Values and Attributes
Nigeria as a decent and civilized society expects her youth to cultivate certain desirable values and attributes to sustain these decency and civilization. Such values and attributes include the following:
(a) Honesty (b) Obedience (c) Orderliness (d) Patience (e) Tolerance (f) Sincerity (g) Hard work (l) Loyalty (j) Patriotism (k) Respectfulness (1) Sympathy (m) Fairness (n) Decency
The teacher explains each of these attributes with examples and illustrations.
a. What do you understand by each of the foregoing items? b. Why are they important in the society?
c. Have you demonstrated any of them in your life? Explain.
2. Constitutional Awareness
Every independent nation has a constitution that gives direction to the government of that society. The current constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria came into force in 1999. As youth and important citizens of Nigeria, you need to be aware of aspects of the constitution especially those that give you protection. In this regard, the constitution provides for the fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens (The teacher explains the meaning of fundamental human rights).
i. Right to life
ii. Freedom of speech
iii. Freedom of movement
iv. Freedom of worship
v. Freedom of association
vi. Right to fair hearing
vii. Right to property
These are explained with examples and illustrations, including their limitations.
a. What do these rights mean?
b. What are their limitations?
3. The Need for Civic Responsibility
In order to enjoy our constitutional rights, we are expected to meet our civic responsibility. Civic responsibility may be referred to as the equipment and willingness of individuals to display or demonstrate desirable values and social attributes or behaviours in their relationships with themselves, their fellow human beings, their environment and institutions. Some of these attributes have been discussed.
No society can make progress when the citizens are lawless, hostile, intolerant, dishonest, uncooperative and destructive. Rather, the society needs an atmosphere of discipline, security, peace, unity and tolerance to be able to plan and executive development projects. The greatest contribution the youth are expected to make is to demonstrate high level of civic responsibility. This is one of the ways they can make the country to be proud of them.
a. Give two examples of civic responsibility.
b. Why do we need responsible youth in Nigeria?
4. Display of Desirable Values
Once you, as youth, have learnt certain desirable values, they are expected to rule your life forever. You are expected to display desirable values at all times. Apart from your sell-satisfaction for doing this, you become a model and instrument of social change for the other members of the community. In fact, you would be respected and liked by people everywhere you go.
a. What does it take for your teachers to like you in school?
b. What does it take for your parents to like you?
c. What do you need in others to like them ?
5. Resisting Anti-Social Values
One of the problems of youth is the influence of peers and other members in the neighborhood on their behaviours. Their friends or exposure to corrupt and indecent movies or magazines have turned many good young people criminal. As youth who are expected to lead this society in the future, your lives must have sound moral foundations. You must try at all times to be ruled by desirable values by resisting all the temptation to go the wrong way by doing the following.
a. Avoid keeping bad company,
b. Avoid reading corrupt books and magazines that contain criminal, and wrong/ destructive sexual information.
c. Avoid viewing corrupt television programmes
d. Always remind yourself of the need to display good values and social attributes at all times.
e. Always use your time wisely and for things that are positive to your life.
f. Always correct your friends when they go the wrong way.
g. Avoid taking drugs or alcohol.
(1) Why are some youth not doing the right thing?
(2) What should the youth do to do the right thing at all times?
(3) What are the qualities of good children?
Nigerian youth as the pride of the nation need to be helped to develop the desirable values and social behaviours for effective living and relationships in the society. In view of the obvious weaknesses of our schools and growing irresponsibility of many parents, regular programmes are needed outside the school, to provide youth with appropriate learning experiences and activities aimed at good citizenship development. Such experiences include values of the society, civic responsibilities and how to counter anti-social values among youth.
Two weeks after the last session, a pre-test was given to the subjects, using the original instrument.
Below is a comparison of the pre-test and post-test.
The results in Table 2 indicate that there is significant difference between the pre-test post-test mean scores of the subjects. The hypothesis is therefore rejected.
Having rejected the null hypothesis, there is significant difference between the pre-test and post-test mean scores of students, in favour of post-test. This means that the post-test mean score (2.98) is greater than the pre-test mean score of 2.01. It further shows that the treatment had impact on the civic consciousness of the youth, the post-test mean score being greater than the pre-test mean score and above the acceptable cut-off point of 2.5. The results confirm the views of Grey (2001) and Talah (2002) that educational and socio-civic activities organized for youth during school vacation have positive impact on their value orientations, character molding and personality development. The result further lends support to the views of Ofor (1998) and Johnson (2001) that when youth are exposed to educational or leadership or religious training and orientations during school vacation, their minds and attentions are redirected towards creative and worthy thoughts that are positive to the development of individuals and mankind.
Conclusion and Recommendations
From the results of this study, it could be concluded that the social values and civic consciousness of youth are capable of being influenced positively through citizenship education programmes organized for them during school vacations. The improvement in the civic consciousness of the youth involved in this study could to some extent, be attributed to the effect of the treatment or instructional sessions and the activities to which they were exposed. More Nigerian youth are most likely to develop the needed civic consciousness if they are exposed to holiday citizenship education programmes on a regular basis.
Consequently, the following recommendations have been made.
1. Voluntary organizations, religious bodies and professionals should be encouraged to plan and organize leadership and civic education for youth, especially when they are on school vacations.
2. Programmes that are organized for youth should be well structured so as to facilitate their evaluation.
3. Parents should be encouraged to make their children participate in holiday civic education programmes.
4. Local government authorities should be encouraged to sponsor vacation civic education programmes for children in their domains.
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* Dr. Ede O.S. Iyamu, Faculty of Education, University of Benin. Rev. Fr. Jude J. Obiunu, Faculty of Education, Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria.
Correspondence concerning this article should be emailed to Dr. Ede O.S. Iyamu at email@example.com
Table 2 A Z-test Analysis of Pre-test and Post-test Scores Category N X Std. Dev. Cal. Z Crit. Z Pre-test 100 2.01 3.90 2.17 1.96 Post-test 100 2.98 2.14 * P > .05
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|Title Annotation:||educational psychology research|
|Author:||Obiunu, Jude J.|
|Publication:||Journal of Instructional Psychology|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2005|
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