Sunday 14 July 2019

University Education and Parental Sacrifice

I was thinking this morning....about University education and the sacrifices parents make for their children. As we took our seats in the bus after the boat ride, my colleague who had gone to pick his daughter that was returning home from the University for the summer break, asked if my children had entered the University. When I replied that they are at that point, he smiled and said 'Welcome to the club.' When asked how he was coping with four children in the University, his response was, 'It's not easy o. I had to cut off so many things.' Hmm!!!

His response got me thinking about the sacrifice my parents made to see me through University. At a point, things were so tough that my parents were selling off their priced possessions to keep all seven of us in school. My mum sold her precious Hollandais wrappers and some wrappers called 'Single' (still not sure why they are so called) just to pay our school fees. From my second year in the University, I was blessed to be one of the recipients of the Chevron Community scholarship for University students, where we were paid N300 annually. Believe me, that was a lot of money in 1987, a period when first year tuition fees at the University of Benin (Uniben) was N90. Compared to the school fees, the money seems adequate to meet my every need, but the challenge was that the needs of everyone in the nuclear family were serviced from this money. One particular year, I had other plans, different from those my parents had for the scholarship money.

I was in school when my account was credited. While everyone was waiting back home for me to send what was left of the scholarship payment, after paying my school fees, against the directive of my parents, I dipped my hands in the purse and did as my heart pleased. In order to pacify my parents, because I knew they will be angry, I wrote them this heart warming note, that read more like a telegram. 'Good morning. This is to let you know that I have been paid the scholarship money and I have paid my school fees. I wanted to send back the remaining, but my table fan was bad and I had to fix it. Also, I was forced to buy shirts (2). I had to keep back N90 for the remaining semester for feeding. I would've soaked o, but unfortunately my garri has finished. Thank you for your understanding. Your son...Weyimi.'

The letter aroused varied emotions within the family. While my parents were understandably angry, my siblings were amused, particularly with the part where I said 'I was forced to buy shirts' with figure 2 in bracket. The joke has been on me since then. Funny as it sounds, I will never forget the sacrifices my parents made for my education. Now I am a father that understands the value of a good university education. Some may wonder why we have to sometimes inconvenience ourselves to give them this education. The answer is in the words of Albert Einstein that 'Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.'

If we must exit the hole we are in as a nation, then we need a next generation that has been trained on how to think, not learning of facts and we must make the sacrifice today. Looking at our political leaders and the sacrifices their parents made, we can comfortably say that they only learnt facts, because when it comes to thinking, their minds seem not to be up to it. Proverbs 22:6 -'Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.' Make that sacrifice for your children today.

Happy Sunday. 

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

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