Impact of Citizenship Education on the Civic Consciousness of Nigerian Youth

Article excerpt

Nigeria is currently facing the problem of youth incivility and immorality. The need has arisen to seek informal approaches to the inculcation of desirable values and civic consciousness in the young people in view of the apparent failure of the formal school system to inculcate desirable values. This study was about holiday citizenship education programme for 100 Nigerian youth. It was a quasi experimental research involving a pre-test of the youth's level of civic consciousness before exposing them to series of instructions related to desirable values and civic responsibility after which the post-test was given to the subjects. The post-test mean score was found to be greater than that of pre-test, implying that the treatment had significant impact on the youth's civic consciousness. The need to encourage regular leadership and civic education for youth during school vacation was recommended.

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. …