‘Timmy, you may have a disastrous end if you continue like this. I pray you don’t go astray in life because of your immorality.’ Those were the words of Mr. Joseph, the Principal of the New Born King College to Timmy an S.S. 1 student. Timmy was the only child of his mother. His father had died five days after his naming ceremony. He was very rude and arrogant. He had no respect for his teachers and elders. He could challenge the highest authority in the school because he knew his mother, Mrs. Raymond would always support him. She was an Accountant at one of the branches of the Nobel bank at Ado Ekiti. She was a pretty woman who was totally committed to her work. Her colleagues at work placed her at a high esteem because of her high level of intelligence. Behold, there was something which spoilt her; she never wanted to be corrected for any wrong deed. Hence, one can easily say that Timmy was a perfect replica of his mother. Timmy would be very angry with any teacher that dealt with him. Above all, his mother and his teachers were always at loggerheads because of one reason or the other.
One day, Timmy was caught with ‘expo’ while writing a mid-term test. His class teacher who knew the kind of person his mother was, reported him to Mr. Joseph. At 2:45pm, Mr. Joseph told the school time keeper to ring the bell for emergency gathering. Without much ado, the students gathered themselves on the assembly looking forward to hearing from the Principal.
‘You see, we’ve always told you that in New Born King College, we train students that will become good Ambassadors of the school, their parents and this country in the nearest future. Besides, you have been told that the school will not condone any act of impunity or indiscipline. This boy, he pointed at Timmy, was involved in examination malpractice today. Therefore, I will give him six strokes of cane and suspend him for one week,’ the Principal explained.
The following day, Mrs. Raymond together with her son roughly drove into the school premises. She had barely alighted from her car when she started ranting.
‘Where is the stupid teacher that wrongly accused my son of cheating? Where is he? And I want to see the so-called Principal that embarrassed my son on the assembly.’ She was a cynosure of all eyes on that day. The Principal allowed her to recite her doggerel before coming out of his office and when he came out, he took everybody aback with his reaction towards Mrs. Raymond.
‘Good morning, Mrs. Raymond,’ he greeted.
‘What is good about the morning?’ she replied promptly.
‘Anyway, have you paid your son’s tuition fees?’ He asked.
‘Yes, I have paid even before the school resumed,’ she replied.
‘How much?’ the Principal asked again.
‘Seventy five thousand naira only,’ she responded.
‘That’s good. I will tell the school bursar to write a cheque of 75,000naira for you so that you
and your son can leave this citadel of excellence forever,’ Mr. Joseph said calmly.
‘And you…’ he faced the school guard. ‘Immediately the bursar gives her the cheque, walk her out of this compound,’ he instructed the guard.
Mrs. Raymond’s mouth was widely opened. She couldn’t believe what her eyes saw because that was the first time Mr. Joseph was being rude to a parent.
‘Excuse me, ma, this is the cheque,’ the bursar said.
She looked at the bursar and the cheque and then hissed.
‘I’m more than 75,000naira. I give that to you and your boss,’ she said.
A few weeks later, Mrs Raymond was transferred to one of the branches of the Nobel bank at Ibadan. When she got to Ibadan, she made enquiries about different schools. At last, she found a school that also shared her philosophy. The Proprietor of Freedom College did not permit his teachers to scold the students not to talk of flogging them. Two weeks before Timmy joined the school, Miss Clara was sacked because she beat Ella, a J.S 3 student. Ella was a very lazy student who wouldn’t write notes or do assignments. Miss Clara told the J.S3 students to bring some ingredients for their Home Economics practical. Ella neither brought the ingredients nor got involved in the practical. Hence, the teacher recorded zero for her. Surprisingly, when the school Principal saw the score-sheet, he was infuriated. He told Miss Clara to conduct ‘a make-up test’ for her. Without further ado, Miss Clara did as she was instructed.
‘Ella, the Principal said I should conduct a make-up test for you right now. So, come and sit down beside me for proper supervision,’ Miss Clara said.
‘Mistress, I’m very tired. I can’t write any make-up test now. Please, “manufacture” marks for me. Thanks,’ Ella said.
Miss Clara was so angry to the extent that she didn’t know when she started beating Ella with a 5cm ruler. Ella cried to the Principal’s office with the view of reporting the teacher.
“Go and call the teacher for me,’ Uncle Ben said.
Without dilly-dally, Miss Clara entered the Principal’s office.
‘Miss Clara, you’re not even ashamed of yourself that your student scored zero. Don’t you know that there are different ways of accessing a student? You can use his/her mode of dressing, attendance or his/her relationship with other students,’ he said.
‘I don’t want to know why you beat Ella. You wouldn’t have beaten her if only you knew how influential her parents are. Anyway, you have been relieved of your job in this school,’ Uncle Ben declared.
Miss Clara was not appalled because about three teachers had been sacked because of such similar incident. This was how bad and incoherent the school was.
Two weeks after his enrolment into the school, Timmy called his classmates together when they were observing break. He told them not to show much respect to their class teacher again because he used to counsel them. Afterwards, a group of female students began to develop negative behaviours towards Mr Jerry. They would gossip about him at night in their hostel and when they got to school in the morning, they would murmur the “good morning, sir.” Later, Timmy organized some female students that would be laughing unnecessarily when Mr Jerry was teaching and if he tried to correct them, they would hiss like a snake. Mr Jerry would always smile and shake his head whenever a student hissed at him. As if that was not enough, Timmy told his classmates and some students from other classes to stop applauding Mr Jerry whenever he said something interesting on the assembly or in any social gathering. When Mr Jerry heard about it, he called Timmy and his partners in crime.
‘Timmy, I heard that you’ve told some students to stop giving me the honour which I deserve. As if that was not enough, you also told them to bully me whenever I’m addressing them on the assembly. My advice for you is this; be careful or else you will live to rue all your actions but it would have been too late because he who hates his teachers shall find his lesson bitter,’ Mr Jerry said angrily.
The following day, Mrs Raymond followed Timmy to the school to harass Mr Jerry but unfortunately, he had resigned the previous day.
‘I would have paid him off if I met him in this school. Nonsense! Uncle Ben, I appreciate you and other members of the management for promoting Western culture. In abroad they don’t beat. Why must we beat our children whenever they do something wrong? They don’t know anything even if they do, we don’t need to beat them. We’ve got to give them the freedom and the respect they deserve,’ she explained.
‘At Freedom College, we remain committed to our norms – no flogging and no unsavoury comments. Our students must always perform well in their continuous assessments and examinations irrespective of their performance because they pay tuition,’ Uncle Ben added.
Two years later when Timmy graduated from secondary school, he was offered admission to study Industrial Relations and Personnel Management at the University of Lagos. His mother used to tell him to make sure he graduated with an excellent grade so that it would be easier for her to fix him to any vacant position in the banking sector.
One day, ECO 101 lecturer was in the class addressing the students on how to go about their assignment. Surprisingly, Timmy and his pals were at the end of the class analyzing football matches played in the previous day. The lecturer felt humiliated and promised to deal with them. At the end of the first session, Timmy had no “carry over” but his grade was not encouraging. He told his mother about it and she encouraged him to put more efforts. In addition to that, she told him to change how he answered examination questions.
‘You are no longer in the Secondary school where you present answers with simple sentences without comprehensive explanation and copious examples. Timmy, you’re now a university student, learn how to present your answers more maturely. With that, you will perform well in your next exams,’ Mrs Raymond encouraged.
Instead of progressing, Timmy was retrogressing. His grade was worse than what he had in year one. In year one, his grade was 1:90, at the end of year two, his grade was 1:75 while at the end of year three his grade was 1:45. On getting home, he met his mother in a pervading mood.
‘Mum, what happened or can’t you confide in me again?’ he enquired.
‘Timmy, I’m doomed!’ she replied.
‘Oh no, mum doesn’t say that again,’ He implored her.
‘I told you that I was expecting my letter of promotion today but what I got was a letter of disappointment from the management,’ she explained.
‘What did you do?’ Timmy asked.
‘The management said “I am too arrogant” and “I am too difficult to control.” Besides, they said I don’t admit my mistakes and I don’t like being corrected. Above all, when I’m corrected, I don’t listen,’ Mrs Raymond further explained with a very low voice.
‘Mum if there is life, there is hope but there is another problem,’ he declared.
‘What happened again?’ she asked quickly.
‘Despite my pleas and overtures that I made to the lecturer, my grade remains worrisome. My present grade is 1:45,’ he explained. Mrs Raymond stood up and began to stroll from one place to another in the living room.
‘I am doomed! Which company or organization will employ you with “pass grade”? That’s a very bad one. Should I say I caused everything? But I was only trying to protect my son. People say I’m proud and I was not promoted because I don’t like to be corrected. I can’t blame myself because those who are supposed to tell me the truth did not. My son was not properly trained in secondary school because of the school interests. School owners know that the withdrawal of a student from a school will reduce the school income hence they won’t flog wayward students whereas the Holy Book supports it. Only God knows the number of lives Freedom College has ruined and will still ruin. If I had known I would have allowed you to stay at the New Born King College. My pastors will never tell me the truth because of the monthly allowance which I give them,’ she lamented.
She stomped her right leg on the floor and hit the wall with her palm.
‘Mum, now I realize that teaching is the most prestigious profession in the world. Teachers can spend just 40naira to buy a blue and a red pen to make or to destroy someone’s life. Mr Joseph predicted that I may have a disastrous end while Mr Jerry said it will be too late to mend. I’ll even suggest that after the three arms of government, the Nigerian Union of Teachers should be the next decision making-body. Besides, our parents should stop seeing teachers as a poor, hopeless set of people. If possible the government should implement a policy that any parent who harasses teachers should be jailed for life because teachers are a small letter “g-god”.
Mrs Raymond couldn’t help crying. She knew she was the cause of everything although the Management of Freedom College played their role in destroying Timmy’s life.
‘Timmy, I’m very sorry about everything. I know it is too late to mend but please forgive me,’ she wanted to kneel but Timmy prevented her from doing so.
‘Our people say some broken hearts never mend but I’ll patch mine so that I can forgive you and also forgive myself just that the journey of forty days will become a journey of forty thousand years,’ Timmy stated sadly.
Mrs Raymond was shocked when she heard that from Timmy. She wanted to interpret what Timmy said but she could not.
‘What do you mean?’ she asked.
‘Instead of graduating with a bad grade, I’ve made up my mind to re-write University Matriculation Examination so that I can start afresh. I am just 21years old and it is not too bad if I graduate at the age of 25 or 26 but this time, I will choose the University of Ibadan, the first and the best for proper uprightness. Above all, I want to study Economics education because I want to become a teacher,’ he explained.
Mrs Raymond looked at Timmy’s red eyes and burst into tears. ‘Indeed a teacher affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops,’ she intoned.