“How do we change the world?
One random act of kindness at a time.”— Morgan Freeman
For many, 2020 was an eventful year thanks to its biggest export – the COVID-19 pandemic. To contain the spread of the deadly virus, governments across the globe introduced national lockdowns. Social events were banned, shops and malls closed, human activities crippled, everyone was confined to their homes. The pandemic has since changed our world.
To say the pandemic – which we currently battle – affected human existence is to state the obvious. Owing to this attendant effects on the global economy, many (mostly young people) have been left jobless or without a means of income thereby rendering them vulnerable to every available means to eke a living. An idle mind, they say, is the devil’s workshop. More than ever, as the globe recovers from the blows of COVID-19, the need for positive youth engagement is important. Young people, without doubt, have a huge role to play in national development and growth of our world, at large.
As an intervention, Access To Learning And School Initiative (ATLAS Initiative) in partnership with Pivot Consult, introduces ACCELERATE Vocational Skills Training Program, a paid opportunity, available for youths and adults who are 15 years and older. With courses in Fashion Design, Catering and Confectionery, ICT, Photography & Business Development, this training intends to equip the youth with skills that would enable them to gain confidence in their ability to eradicate poverty by building prosperity.
This program is indeed imperative and timely considering the struggling economic situations of the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as, the fact that it addresses the Sustainable Development Goals 1 (No Poverty), 4 (Quality Education & Lifelong learning), 8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth), 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and 17 (Partnership for the goals). Not only that, it seeks to bring young and old people together to make a difference in their own lives and places where change is most needed through sharing of knowledge and experience with one another.
Follow this link to enroll for the ACCELERATE Program
At ATLAS Initiative, we work with volunteers to promote access to life-long learning opportunities in developing countries. To this end, engaging young people in social action to ensure quality education and advance lifelong learning opportunities for everyone, is an essential part of this project.
When Kehinde Fatai woke up yesterday, it must have seemed like another regular day. The wonderful and vibrant 11 year old twin lives with her parents and siblings in Sangotedo, a community in Ajah, Lagos State. Kehinde has lived with a physical disability since birth. This hindered her access to formal education. While her peers and siblings rushed to school every morning before the outbreak of COVID-19, the young Kehinde stayed at home in this natural confinement since her struggling parents can’t afford to send her to a school for children with special needs.
Sometime ago, one of our volunteers, Stella Akingboye, who is located at Ajah identified Kehinde, noticed her physical disability realizing how it had deprived her of benefits that life has to offer. Stella shared this compelling story with the team and we reached out to Kehinde, and promised to get her a wheelchair and the education she deserves.
We fulfilled part of that promise yesterday, with a surprise visit to Kehinde’s family. You can imagine her excitement! Of course, given how much we love learning, we gifted some books from our library for the kids to read and improve their literacy. We, also gave some foodstuffs and hand hygiene supplies to her family.
Kehinde’s story is just one, out of many. This is our little way of bringing a smile to a child’s face to celebrate this year’s children’s day. Many thanks to all our donors for making this possible.
Please support a child like Kehinde today through ATLAS Initiative. Visit www.atlas.org.ng to find out how.
We all acknowledge the importance of education in the life of an individual. While some see education as inculcating morals and values in a child, others see the need to enroll children in schools. Yet, a few assure that it is in the need of a child learning a trade. Understanding and acknowledging the importance of all three aspects of education from different perspective, we need to emphasize the importance of sending children children to school. Schools afford the child access to learn from not only teachers, but students alike. A child learns about arithmetics, spoken and written words, economics, science, and philosophy of how the world works. All these, though, should not limit the child to a Teacher_Student environment. An important question we need to ask ourselves is this. How important is play to the education of a child?
Needless to say, kids love to play. The freedom to make merry and laugh heartily is nothing compared to the solemn quiet of a classroom. Play to children is a means of self expression and self actualization. Majority of doctors, lawyers, and teachers dreamt up their professions from role playing while they were children. Should it not then be that play be a medium of learning?
ATLAS Initiative in conjunction with NIBCARD, on Wednesday, the 7th of November organised the African Board Games Fair for students in secondary school. Children from different schools like Prudence Secondary School, Adroit Secondary School, Oregon Junior High School, and Agidingbi Grammar School, were in attendance. The event introduced the students to Nigerian-Made games and exciting competitions. There were games like the 17-step game, Nwanyi-aga, Homia, and the most popular of them all, Luku-Luku. These games trained the minds of the students. The Luku-Luku game in particular was to train the eye and hand coordination in the children. The game was an avenue for them to learn arithmetic and geography.
Children with special needs were not left out of the fun. They participated in the games with the aid of an interpreter.
Educating a child should not always be restricted to the four walls of a class room. Room can always be made on the playground.
“THE MIND ONCE ENLIGHTENED CANNOT AGAIN BECOME DARK” – Thomas Paine
ICT is a said to be an integral part of modern life. Information and communication technology (ICT) in education is important because it has quickly become one of the basic building blocks of modern society.
There were several moments were you could catch a glimpse of the excitement on the faces of the kids who were ready and eager to learn despite the inconveniences. It was one of a kind because Tech-Week was planned to serve these kids who won’t have had such an opportunity if not out of volunteering.
I was put in charge of the coordinating unit which was not my first experience in the case of dealing with school kids. However, this seemed totally different from what I am used to, which was dealing with kids in a religious setting (in a church). Some kids were not really producing outcome as expected after learning during practice. This was a tough moment where I saw myself organizing and motivating the kids and letting them understand that designing is like a language for expressing themselves. At the point, I came to realize that volunteering could bring experiences that call for extra effort than you had prepared for.
Finally, this project has shown me the importance of practical learning – how fast one can learn in a short while, unlike theoretical learning. Also that ICT is the future of human interactivity, and that future is NOW!
Looking forward to TECH-WEEK 2.0
I returned to Nigeria in August 2017 from Cyprus, originally just for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program which was to last for the next one year. I had studied international relation in Cyprus for a period of three and half years which was an interesting and challenging period.
I first had my volunteering experience during the early period of my return from Cyprus. I volunteered for Deeper Life Bible church, Apo, Abuja, as a team lead of the sanitation unit. During my time as the team lead, I successfully got all the children involved and excited in the sanitation exercise. This was an awesome experience because I had never had the opportunity to work with a large number of children before.
By November 2017, I was posted to Lagos state for my National Youth Service program. Therein, I was assigned to my place of primary assignment at ATLAS initiative, where my full-time volunteering experience began. ATLAS is an acronym for Access to Learning and School, which is a social enterprise that seeks to address issues of inequalities in access to education and learning particularly in marginalized communities. Working at ATLAS wasn’t a coincidence for me, because I knew it was a learning organization and I was interested in my personal development and grooming my passion to serve humanity. I am enjoying my role as a public relations personnel, which means work feels like play for me.
My very recent experience on one of ATLAS’s program, was on the visit to Epe local government area, for the Access2School project. Epe is a small town close to Lekki lagoon on the out sketch of Lagos, which has about 200,000 inhabitants. Although a suburban, Epe is opening up for infrastructural development.
The Access2School project is focused on bridging the learning gaps between vulnerable marginalized children from rural communities by facilitating their return to formal education. On our first trip, we conducted a community mapping exercise, where we identified stakeholders (visiting the local government officers, traditional rulers (OBA’S), community members and NYSC local government Inspector) within the local government. This process had a lot of exciting moments for me, I was opportune to meet with Oba’s of Poka and Dr. S.O Adewale Oluepe of Epe. This I was experiencing for the first time.
This experience has helped improved my level of exposure, and built my confidence as a public relations personnel. I have learnt so much about the Yoruba culture, most especially a lot about Epe as a rural community. I feel a lot of fulfillment knowing I was part of the success story of children being enrolled back into school through the Access2School project. And so this marks the beginning of a new chapter of my life as a volunteer under the platform of ATLAS Initiative.
It is no news that majority of students in school are not learning. Here, we would delve into the reason why this is, and express our suggestions of possible solutions to this issue.
To be clear, these are just our opinions and we would like to know yours
- Learning is the process of acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences.
- A school is an institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students (or “pupils”) under the direction of teachers.
If you want to find a child who lacks quality education today, one of the best places to find them is in school. It’s quite ironic that the citadel of learning has now become the breeding ground for “half-baked” graduates. The initial good news is that the children are in school getting some form of education in the least. But the bad news is that their presence in school does not translate to acquisition of knowledge. Hundreds of millions of children are starting school, going day after day, year after year, but not really learning.
Schooling without learning is just time served.
Unfortunately, Nigeria is not excluded from this list of having to school without adequate quality education.
Some primary reasons why kids in school don’t learn include:
- Inadequate learning facilities & environment (Such as good chairs, desks, classrooms, e.t.c): Lack of comfort leads to short attention span and lack of proper assimilation and retention of information.
- Emotional problems from home and family: Emotionally stressful events that are experienced by some children in their homes causes for them, the inability to focus or pay attention in class. In such conditions, learning cannot take place.
- Archaic and Uninteresting method of teaching: Students, especially the younger ones can only absorb and retain large amounts of information when they don’t appear as ordinary words on the board. Audio and Visual tools, as well the use of physical objects in the representation of information.
- Lack of interest: The culmination of the aforementioned would lead to disinterest in learning. Then the school stops being about acquisition of information, but rather, a routine.
- Medical challenges: such as dyslexia, cerebral palsy, brain tumor, ADHD
The Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Quality Education), Target 4.1 was set up to address this issue. It states “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes”.
Here are listicles of suggested solutions:
- Provision of Conducive Learning Environment and Adequate Learning Facilities
Comfort is very essential when it comes to learning. There must be adequate learning facilities provided in a conducive environment to ensure that quality learning takes place. It is important that students are provided with adequate facilities for play, in order to relieve them of stress they might experience at home. Competent counselors that would be available to help the students with issues and develop proper coping strategies are also important.
- Modern & Participatory Teaching Methods
It is not only essential that the children are able to hear the words of their teachers, but are also able to see examples of what they are being taught. For instance, it would be much easier to remember parts of the skeletal system when one sees an actual skeleton and can reference one’s body parts
That is how we can turn good news on schooling into good news on education and ensure all children are in school – and learning.
The target of the sustainable development goal 4 is to achieve the overall improvement in the access to inclusive and quality education for all by 2030. However, there has been no sign of any rapid reduction to meet this target. On the contrary, there has been a slow down since the year 2000 compared to the earlier years on the global scale , the most affected people are the youth of secondary school age. With regards to gender, the female are the highest out of school on the global scale. Poverty and other structural problems are the reasons behind the challenges. One of the structural problems includes menial jobs that youth find after lower secondary which diverts their attention from education to trying to contribute to the family income at that stage. This increases the number of out of school children. Also, the level of income is one other significant pointer that reflects the tendency of a high number of children being out of school in a given country.
Considering the regional level, sub-Sahara Africa where Nigeria is included has the highest level of out of school children in all categories e.g. sex, age. Nigeria’s plight in the sub-Sahara out of school children as at 2016 is between 20% and 40% at the primary school level. Another problem that persists at the regional level is the gender disparity which have been considerably reduced in other parts of the world while sub-Sahara Africa remains unchanged.
Therefore, it is evident that poverty should be tackled alongside access to education.
There is about only a decade left to achieve the SDG4- which is quality education. Hence, it is a matter of urgency. The innovation of new strategies and policies as well as a pool of resources to achieve this goal will bring about the rapid decline in the number of out of school children, such strategies include support for helping the parent to invest in a business that could provide funds to send their children to school. Also such business will allow the child to focus on education rather than joining the contributing to the family income through a menial job.
The ultimate strategy, however, is to engage the school and government who are also direct stakeholders to re-examine their policies in view of 2030. While the school can consider their cost, the government can ensure that allocated funds get to the targets in the right amount and time. Social enterprise should be supported as the serve as an intermediary that bridge the distance between government and school while they also accelerate the fulfilment of the access to education which is measured by a number of out of school children.
The SDGs -4 only remain achievable goal if all these stakeholders would create a synergy for the next decade.
There are several ways of engineering a society. They include laws, norms, rules and procedures. However, these will remain unfruitful without adequate education which is simply providing an institutional structure for training members of the society. The youth and children are the most malleable members of every society, this is why they are the future of a nation. To determine the future of a nation, consider the education and training given to the youth and children. Therefore, when they are out of school it simply means that the future of the nation is at stake. The aspects that are endangered include economy, security and politics.
Children of today are the human resources that should contribute to the workforce of the country in the future but when they are not educated it negatively affects the future workforce. The problem is not their lack of employment, rather they would be found in menial jobs that do not contribute to the economy of the country neither does it help in its technological advancement. This is why our society suffers from backwardness as it will remain behind the advanced economies. However if the society ensures that children are provided access to quality education, more professionals are then produced for the benefit of the economy and improved GNP (Gross National Product).
When children/youth are out of school, their idleness leads to the increase in social vices and community crime rate. Pickpocketing, burglary, drug abuse, destruction of government property. Children lose the cultural fabric of the society making the society chaotic.
Politically, leaders of the country were produced in schools. Hence if these children do not have access to quality education, the chances of getting good leadership in the country is quite dim, the future will be in shambles. Experiences such as not knowing the right principles of democracy will cause wrong persons to come into power. Today youth sell votes, although being out of school is not the only reasons for that, however, lack of education is a major cause of ignorance, and are incapacitated and they cannot change anything
The solution is not just sending them to school, which is a starting point. More to it is the provision of quality education that is effective in reaching the youth to take right steps in nation building.
Learning as an act has changed over several central just like a chameleon, leaning puts on the nature of the current century in which it is taking place for example in the classical Greek period, students decide who their teacher should be, Socrates choose Plato and Aristotle admired Plato to be his teacher. The reverse has been the case since the introduction of the University setting. Universities provides the teachers and courses for student today. However learning in 21st century is characterized by variant of learning style and resources which is not limited to a location, hence being influenced by the ongoing globalization process which is integrating the diverse would.
The act of learning can therefore be put into a 21st century category which are
Four Cs of learning
Communication: covers beyond the verbal, written and local patters to the non-verbal, non-written and so on. The following are the new and easily comprehended medium of learning; these involve pictures, sounds, sign- language, body languages and symbols. Furthermore, understanding values and attitudes that can be interpreted in their individual content are necessary for 21 century learning. Media and technology have aided the promotion of these in short videos that are produced to enable easier comprehension.
Collaboration: since all these communication elements cannot be found in similar form in one location, there is need for collaboration. In a diverse team where the teacher is from another part of the world as well as every team player is different, a need arises where every team player is required to work with one another efficiently. School (organization) do not only promote respect but tap from the cultural diversity from the team. A new hybrid of communication element are developed towards the common goal which enable effective collaboration.
Critical Thinking: the 21st century learning has transcended beyond the “yes sir” kind of learning, where every idea is internalized without questioning. Schools and other learning institutions now experience the authority of what they teach, being challenged by new research. Therefore critical thinking is necessary to identify areas that need development beyond the traditional why of doing things. For example there are deductive and inductive research that reflect the practicality and efficiency of critical thinking.
Creative Innovation: do you know how to tell a story? Then you can sell everything. This is creativity. Creativity is presenting ideas that are conventional in an unconventional way, think of the design of a Maserati made into a Jacuzzi. Creativity will be learning mathematics in a computer game or English language in a voice recognition device. These are techniques created through team brainstorming. Creativity comes within environments that are both conventional and unconventional.
Learning in 21st century has therefore taken new shape with pointers to the globalization process. Communication style has led to collaboration that provides critical thinking and creative innovation.