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Yetunde Olasiyan: Let’s Talk About School Graduation Parties



Graduation parties herald the summer vacation. Initially, the ceremonies were held to reward outstanding pupils and take a look back at the past academic year so that parents can be carried along.

But this is no longer the case.

The razzmatazz that accompanies graduation parties now leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Apart from the fact that parents are made to cough out money for the parties, these ceremonies put a lot of parents under unnecessary pressure. You have to provide clothes and shoes demanded by the school.

Who is to blame for these excesses? Is it the parents or the school?

For the school, the issue of graduating pupils from nursery to primary appeared unreasonable at first. It was copied from schools abroad where pupils graduate from play school to regular schools, and that’s because they are just regular school starts at the age of five. But before we knew it, we replicated it in Nigerian schools, even though our start school as early as possible.

Parents reacted badly at first, but with what I witnessed during the last graduation party I attended, I think parents are now happy with it. Every parent wants to see their kids decked in a graduation gown, age or class notwithstanding. The beautiful thing, to them, was that their kids were moving ahead to another level in life.

However, the owambe spirit that has been imported into our children’s schools will not let us be great. The spirit of competition has taken over the parties. I couldn’t believe what my eyes saw in a school in Abuja. My findings revealed that this happened in almost all schools in my environment. I asked the kids living around me if they had graduation parties and they went on to tell me how they ate rice and people came with cakes.

I saw with my own eyes how parents came with heavy coolers of jollof with coleslaw, egusi and semo, and some other draw soup I couldn’t identify. They strategically placed a giant cake shaped like a handbag and ball in the middle. All for a child who just graduated from the nursery class. I was dumbfounded.

A little walk around the tent showed that this was going on everywhere around me. I kept on seeing heavy coolers. Someone was in the middle dishing out the food. They even invited guests to their kid’s nursery graduation.

If the sole intent of including nursery pupils in the graduation ceremony was to make them look forward to a higher academic achievement and prepare them for the days ahead, then, to what intent was the food and invited guests.

The graduation was done on a working day but I was bewildered to see the place filled up with parents, mostly women who refused to go to work or probably took an excuse to attend the important grad. Since a lot of schools in Abuja had their parties around the same period, it must have been like a public holiday in many offices.

What is education turning to in Nigeria? A fanfare? A competition among parents to show who has the most money or who can pull the largest crowd to their kid’s graduation? An avenue for schools to fleece money out of parents who don’t seem to mind anymore?

You stop to wonder when you see all the pictures on Facebook later with captions like #myEzegraduated today, #Godwin, #Proudmum, etc. It is just to show off.

I was also at a school’s end of year party last December where all the teachers wore matching asoebi like it was a carnival. Maybe I am odd. But in order to check my oddity, I decided to ask my work colleague what she thought about kids and their graduation ceremony. I sought her permission before writing this. She said:

I don’t see anything bad in it. If I have the money, I will also pull it off. My two kids are graduating next year; one to primary 1 and the other is leaving primary school. I have budgeted 100k for their graduation parties and since my oldest daughter will be clocking 10 as well, it will be a double celebration. I will cook and bake cake as well. We will also budget separate money for pictures.

What do you think? Do you stand with my colleague? Or you feel the owambe spirit is taking over every sphere of our existence? How did your kid’s graduation parties go?

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

M.Sc International Affairs&Diplomacy, ABU, Zaria|| B.Tech Environmental Biology, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso|| 1st Prize Winner, SouthWest Nigeria-CLO Essay Competition on Child Labour in Nigeria|| 5th Prize Winner, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation Essay Competition|| Certificate of Participation, World Bank Essay Competition|| Author of A Gift of Dreams|| [email protected]|| Former Content Editor,|| Ghostwriter, Editor, Profile Writer|| Nike|| Olasiyan|| For writing enquires email [email protected]


  1. crown

    August 12, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    Black man mentality, celebrating mediocrity. Even the oyinbos you are copying wear jeans or work clothes, attend school event for two hours max and head back to work or their regular lives.

  2. Ajala & Foodie

    August 12, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    i have come to embrace the fact that i am just an odd entity and i am ok with that!!! This owambe spirit they even carry it out of the country. An acquaintance that is due later in the year, we have had 3 parties for this baby already and baby never reach. We already know there will be naming at least. My own baby never have 1 sef and she is not getting a birthday party until she is at least 5. We don’t plan doing any party for her before then either.

    If you see the way people look at me when i say this, like i am just the oddest individual ever. One of such people resides in what i consider a not so great area but she organized and hosted her own baby shower, naming and baby dedication there was a party again!!! On top wetin???these people will come chop your food, pass the waste and move on. Funniest thing is they will be going to see and compare how big “your crowd” was/is. I heard that one from my hair dresser, she was telling me how this person had more crowd than some other person. Why???

    I am not for that life at all… I will rather give my child(ren) experiences than waste my hard earned money on such frivolities.

    • Bos

      August 13, 2018 at 11:04 am

      No way, this article has to be fiction, I was just laughing as i read draw soup and coolers? Are we for real? Nursery school graduations?

      Whilst I agree with each to their own, It can be a tad ridiculous. It also has a way of affecting those of us not interested, as we have to explain to our children why we differ. Party pack these days nko? I give books, read and keep reading……why should I get shoe sizes of an entire class and decide to buy them shoes? Arrant rubbish in my opinion!! This generation of show and more show is getting quite alarming.

      I get lost in translation in our generation, we tend to overdo things. What about PROM? I will not get BMpro or any top designer to get my 15/16-year-old daughter ready for Prom. What values are these? Many of these kids are so entitled already. When I see girls dressed for Prom and these designers are tagging them I wonder if I am the one with the problem as I wonder if all is well with such mothers? Whatever happened to the good old dresses from regular shops? The girls end up overdressed and looking so old. Have these kids earned a dime to use such high-end designers? We turned out well didn’t we yet the only graduation I recall having food for was University. Our aim should be to instil the right values in these kids so we do not regret in future. Look around yourselves, we all have 1 or more of our childhood friend who is now a liability, some of them (at least the ones i know) were over pampered and given all and now have been heartaches to their parents.

      Let us use our brains to love these kids.

  3. jah rule

    August 12, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    to each his own biko….do you and let others do them

  4. Anon

    August 12, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    I was hoping to gain something from this article but this is pure bile. You sound bitter and quite pathetic tbh.

  5. Viv

    August 13, 2018 at 1:26 am

    Thank-you oh,to each his own. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating graduation. Parents simply celebrate the children and I have never seen where it has led to any unhealthy competition.

  6. Uche

    August 13, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    I think we Nigerian parents love introducing or embracing lifestyles that does little or nothing to improve our lot as individuals as well as the society at large! i once asked this question but nobody could give me a valid reason for the ostentatious celebration of our kids’s graduation parties except for “others are doing it now, I do not want my child to feel odd” explanation. The painful truth is that our children sometimes do not even understand the impact of such parties in their lives! It also mounts unnecessary pressure on parents who cannot measure up to such lifestyle and make them and their children to feel left out.
    I think the graduation parties for nursery and primary pupils should be a moderate event, With the way this is going, parents whose children are graduating may sadly avoid such an important event in the lives of their children, because they do not have money to entertain visitors and would not want to attend the event, in order not to feel embarrassed.

  7. Tehillah

    September 25, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    Everyone has a reason behind what he does,some people celebrate to mark a new beginning does not mean they want to show off. While truly some do want to show off but I see nothing wrong In celebrating your child no matter how young he or she is. And as for the extravagance of the grad parties, if i have the money to host a party for my child,I will,why should I settle for cheap when I can give my child the best?

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