SS1 is probably one of the most important phases in a Nigerian student’s life. Your destiny almost entirely lay in the three choices before you. In most cases, you were stuck between choosing one of three:
Is the Science, Commercial and Art class still relevant?
Does this segregation system do more harm than good? This is an open-thought piece.
The Science Class, The Commercial Class, The Art Class.
Whatever you chose most likely decided what you’d study in University. Science students ended up being doctors, Commercial students most likely in Finance and Management, and Art students in the Humanities.
The problem here is that we didn’t always get to choose by ourselves. People didn’t get sorted by a magical Sorting Hat, they got sorted based on their performance, most likely in the Junior Certificate Exams.
The best students mostly ended up in Science, next was Commercial, and last, the Arts. This created a kind of stratification where Science students were automatically seen as the smartest and the Art students carried the stigma of ‘Olodo’.
The most common, informal yardstick for measuring intelligence in Nigerian secondary school was understanding of mathematics. The fundamental problem with this mentality is that intelligence is your ability to think. Mathematics, on the other hand, is just your knowledge of numbers. So students who generally sucked at maths, were seen as dull. Many-a-time, they just weren’t interested in maths. Period.
What did this Maths ‘stigma’ cause?
Everybody wants to be seen as smart, so everyone automatically gravitated towards the Sciences, even if they were given the option to choose. So these students that might normally have excelled in the social science classes felt a compulsive need to try to fit in. This mostly means the constant struggle to meet up. To get the good science grades, even when they don't like them.
Here's what might be a good idea.
The question of whether these classes are relevant can't be debated. They are. Many schools distribute subjects in a way that makes it possible for other students to change course at any point. So science students offer economics, commercial students offer biology, and art students offer Geography and mathematics.
How about we make the classes more intertwined, instead of segregating the classes. From feedback I received when people spoke about their SS1 experiences, many of them said the classes were 'labelled' in some sense. Say, Class A was the science class. Class C was the Art class that nobody respected.
What if Science, Art and Commercial students were all mixed in one class. So there'd be electives people would have to choose from. This might allow for even more flexibility, instead of the mostly rigid curricular based on the category of classes that students are.
Of course, this would mean an active involvement of the Guidance and Counselling unit.
The goal is to make them feel like one body, altogether, instead of different broken parts that can never fit together.
So do you think this system needs a kind of revamp? Share your thoughts.
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