By Elisha Arafin
Educationists and psychologists have called on the Ministry of Education and school proprietors to collapse unnecessary and overlapping subjects for pupils in basic classes, saying overloading the young ones could lead to stress and depression.
The experts added that having too much subjects in basic classes also have negative effects on the teachers.
They made the call in reaction to the recent school survey by The Hope, which revealed that pupils in primary 1-3 offer over 20 subjects and many pupils in private schools close as late as 6pm.
A Psychology lecturer at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Dr. Anthony Balogun strongly condemned the practice of overloading pupils with too many subjects, saying children at that tender age should not be exposed to too much stress.
“Subject overload in primary schools is very bad. It is bad to hear that children of primary school are offering over 21 subjects. Look at the age of those children and what they are being tasked with. It will definitely overburden them and that is why some parents complain that their children are not doing well.
“Subject overload may lead to social withdrawal of those children, loneliness and they may look dull and unhappy. Their level of happiness will be low,” he stated.
Balogun added that the teachers are also affected as too much stress could lead to job dissatisfaction and negatively affect their psycho-social well-being.
“When I say psychosocial wellbeing, it involves two concepts. First is the psychological burden and the second is social burden. On the psychological burden when teachers are overloaded it will affect their stress level. People who experience work overload will experience stress and serious burnout.
“Also it causes depression and anxiety. Although, I always say it’s normal to face optimal level of anxiety but when the anxiety is beyond the optimal, it will affect performance. Level of happiness will be low and it is said that a happy man lives longer, happiness increases lifespan,” he added.
Also speaking, an Early Childhood Lecturer in AAUA, Dr. Mrs. Florence Ojewola also shared same opinion with Dr Balogun.
According to her, “subject overload in primary schools is very bad, considering the age of the children. In Nigeria, most of our children start primary school very early which is not so in developed country. Like in the UK, before a child could begin primary school, he or she must be around 6 years old.
“A child who stays too long in school may be depressed and find it difficult to relate with his/her parents after school due to stress.
Her colleague, Dr. Joseph Osakuade said focusing on one of the three areas of learning goals had led to subject overload and didn’t only affect the pupils but teachers and parents.
According to him “In Education we call something learning goals, it focuses on three main areas, Cognitive, Accessive and psychomotor. The emphasis is on cognitive only; the rest are abandoned.
The experts recommended that some subjects should be merged and the curriculum planning committee implementation should assign competent professionals in Education to help with the correction.