There is no gain saying or doubts that education makes for proper human enlightenment and development hence the importance attached to literacy and formal education by modern families and governments all over the world. However in ancient Greece, Rome, Anthens, Egypt and other modern societies education had patterns, formalities and usually graded. When Western education was introduced in our nation by the colonial masters and their missionaries, it was meant for some privileged or selected few. There were graded curricula, age limit and academic norms thus the generation that acquired education under these missionaries acquired some norms, culture, decorum and scholarship.
There were learning centres for different religions, for males and females, for infants and adults while higher education was a rare feat but highly regarded, respected and appreciated.
However, with the end of the civil war in 1970 and the army in power, a lot of nefarious, innovations were introduced into the nation’s education system with few benefits that have myriads of abnormalities that have ravaged our hitherto primitive society. At the beginning of insurgency in the North East, the war slogan was “Western education is, bad Boko Haram”! Come to think of what evil has Western education as to destroy our existence.
The military to their credit, introduced mass literacy under what is presently tagged “universal free primary education, neighbourhood school, nomadic education, co-education institutions at all levels. This was followed by the establishment of numerous glorified ill-equipped higher institutions and near abolition of middle man-power training institutions thus the urge for all products of secondary schools to acquire tertiary education. For now there are over 140 tertiary institutions scattered all over the country and yet not enough to absorb the millions of graduates of over 340,000 secondary schools in the country. Then how many of these tertiary institutions have adequate facilities, or rooms enough to accommodate these pupils. What is the age bracket of these fresh students of our universities who are left to fend for themselves as undergraduates – barely between ages 18-25 years?
The high cost of tuition, accommodation and absolute lack of adequate accommodation have forced these teenage undergraduates and parents/guardians to adopt off campus residence, as a survival strategy.
Today the off campus system of residence, has created the new wave of university undergraduate co-habitation by both males and females who while they are in schools engage in premarital activities. These students live like quasi husbands and wives often living together in single rooms or hostels, shop, bath together, plan courses and at times operate joint accounts refusing to go home during vacations only to remain together for leisure thus giving their parents excuses of longer studies. Sometimes some of these unions end up in unprepared or ill-fated illegal marriages.
Many concerned citizens are today worried over this new practice of co-habitation of stranger students in and off campus without control and guide. The universities no longer provide separate male and female hostels and no formal security for these vulnerable teenagers. It is obvious that most of these campus couples cater for their education and fend for themselves, in view of the high and unaffordable cost of university education.
The breeding of this new generation of Nigerians does not augur well for the growth of the country. Some practitioners observe that the syndrome helps them to plan together, prepare or learn how to live as husbands and wives in future, that it makes for easier cheap or economic plans and helps in academic progress. However, where it is realized in our tertiary institutions that the practice of co-habitation has several adverse effects on the students and society at large, the female students are usually the worst hit and greater losers in this game.
The affected students pay less attention to their academics and perform abnormally below average. It promotes licentiousness, promiscuity, prostitution, cultism and breeds deadly STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and severance of continued academic career. It keeps some students for longer years in the college while these false couples end up in broken associations called college marriages. From whatever point, the society looks at it, university male/female co-habitation is neither normal nor legal for culture. It is anti-social for the union is not viewed as good by tradition or religion and the society. It is immoral, unethical, unproductive and unprogressive.
The federal, state and voluntary agencies with education providers should rise up to the challenges of providing adequate standard tertiary institutions with facilities enough for students. Affordable rents for students, procure modern learning facilities and research centres. Welfare, security, mobility of these youngsters should take centre stage in the establishment of tertiary institutions. Parents and guardians should be alive to their functions, visit and know, where and what their wards are doing as they are not rife for the independence they want to practice. Many have lost their lives and ruined their future by this illegal co-habitation.
This new practice is not only unholy; it is untraditional, unethical, anti-social but illegal. Through this way we are creating a new society with a generation of lawless ruthless, humans without norms but with the characteristics of lower animal kingdom. We call for a reformation, and revolution and guided new regulations on the establishment, operation and running of tertiary institutions in the country. The accommodation, adequate security, welfare and provision of feeding centres should be taken into consideration while mass illegal co-habitation or so-called campus marriages should be legislated against or abrogated by our lawmakers and university authorities. Our tertiary institutions should follow the pattern in other civilized societies.
This is why the editorial team of Community Watchdog Newspaper has reviewed its appeal to the authorities of Imo State University Owerri to immediately commission for effective use, the NDDC built students’ hostels completed more than six years ago.