How volunteer teachers helped pupils during lockdown

•Obasanjo urges youths to seize leadership

The COVID-19 pandemic brought out the resourcefulness in members of the second cohort of Teach for Nigeria (TFN) volunteer teachers’ fellowship scheme – with fellows birthing creative ideas that helped many under-privileged children in the hinterland learn despite school closures.

Chief Executive Officer, TFN, Ms. Folawe Omikunle, praised their innovation and resourcefulness during their graduation which held virtually penultimate weekend.

She said: “Just like yesterday, we were told on numerous occasions that we will never find young Nigerians that will dedicate two years of their lives to teaching pupils in the most underserved and marginalized communities in this country. Today, we are graduating 161 Fellows who have impacted approximately 9,660 students in 80 schools across Lagos, Ogun, and Kaduna states. These Fellows are joining our maiden set of 44 Alumni members, thereby bringing the number of our Alumni network to 205 members. These graduating Fellows have spent these past two years improving the academic outcomes of their pupils, while igniting the love for learning in these pupils, instilling self-belief and successfully galvanizing parental and community support to aid in their pupils learning process.”

In an interview with The Nation, Ms. Omikunle spoke glowingly of some of the projects which saw the fellows providing devices for their pupils, distributing learning packs and palliatives, and preparing their schools for post-COVID-19 resumption.

Omikunle said a fellow, Bright Kemasuode`, found a way to use publicity system belonging to churches and mosques to broadcast lessons to pupils in their respective homes so “our children maintain social distance across compounds in that community and they could listen and engage and learn while the lockdown persisted.”

Another fellow, Rejoice Samuel distributed learning packs to her pupils and others.

“In Kaduna State, she put together worksheets; she prepared work packets which she distributed to all of her students in the community where they lived. Other teachers started to reach out to her to also take the materials and print out for their own children. She was also distributing these materials to children who were not in high school but who were eager to learn and also within those communities.”

Omikunle also spoke of Precious Adebowale who said “raised funds and bought devices for all of her 35 children. So she bought a SIM card enabled device I think a device cost about N22,000.”

Not only did Precious provide devices, she also loaded them with content – including pre-recorded videos she did in her own home.

Ms. Omikunle said it was possible to replicate such dedication in teachers if the government would pay better attention to teacher recruitment.

In his speech, the Commencement Speaker, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, praised the fellows for their contribution to quality education delivery during the fellowship.  He urged them to seize opportunities to become leaders even after the fellowship.

He said: “It is important that you know that leadership will not be handed over to you but you have to continue to exert yourselves to get it. After all, as the saying goes, ‘power is not served a la carte’.

“Although you have come to the end of your fellowship, this is only the beginning of your leadership journey. While the Fellowship might have provided you with first-hand experience of the inequities in our system, you have to continue to leverage your acquired skills and experiences to continue to be advocates for educational excellence and be ambassadors for change, driving the movement for freedom and justice in Nigeria.

“Please do not let anybody tell you that you are leaders of tomorrow, you are leaders today.  Let nobody use today to make tomorrow impossible for you.”

Source: The Nations

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