Education: The Hill and Good

While I was thinking about what to write to celebrate the international day of education. Nothing came into my head but as I was scrolling through my Facebook post to peruse and learn from other people's posts. I read a story of a girl who could not pay her tertiary institution fees due to losing her parents to an accident. It is so saddened that the future of this girl has been affected by unforeseen circumstances. This is just 1 out of over 260 million young people who are currently out-of-school across the world. According to UNESCO (2020), 
‘The 2020 celebration will position education and the learning it enables as humanity’s greatest renewable resource and reaffirms the role of education as a fundamental right and a public good. It will celebrate the many ways learning can empower people, preserve the planet, build shared prosperity and foster peace.” 



However, learning to achieve all of these would not happen, if children are still out of school. Learning will not happen if teachers do not know of the 21st century and current realities.

"Teachers not understanding the role climate change plays in geography or teachers who are not able to link peace with Government. Teachers who do not see the relevance of project-based learning in the classroom and will rather read notes of the 19th or 20th century to kids without explanation."

To achieve and foster learning for peace, planet, prosperity, and people. We have to disrupt the educational system. Changing the sitting arrangement in the classroom that encourages only those who sit at the front is brilliant. Sitting arrangement in the 21st century should be collaborative. A good model in Nigeria is the Teach for Nigeria fellowship that posts young graduates to primary schools in rural communities to teach basic, literacy and numeracy skills. Moreover, they focused on key 21st-century skills such as collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, etc. They treat their students as humans and when that happens students treat themselves as humans too. It is a ripple effect. I know how many times I had to suffer from sad teachers. A teacher has to be well-grounded and rounded. They must possess the knowledge of the subject matter, must have volunteered for social causes and possess strong leadership skills because students learn from what they see. 

Emphasizing this; is updating the student's curriculum to align sustainable development and 21st-century learning. Maybe reviewing social studies to teach gender roles and allowing young people to debate issues in class and the teacher serves as moderators. 

Another hill that I found in the Governance of schools both internal and external governance. Recently, I went to a school we had adopted in Ogun state to teach 21st-century skills. We have facilitated key sessions in these schools for two years. Why? Because it was handled by the community and we already had success stories. Like Rejoice who got the spark to establish Say No To Girl Child Abuse Initiative and Sunkanmi who is willing to study Education at the university to change the anomalies of the education sector. We were creating a generation of problem solvers and changemakers. Sadly, the school has been handed over to the Government and we have been dealing with a fragmented ecosystem since then. It became so hard to organize our programs and to provide alternative education that makes up for the shortfall of schools in rural communities. 

School leaders need to be given autonomy to run and when communities take charge of their schools, they can hold school leaders accountable. Sometimes, school inputs do not get to school, why? Some leaders at the top had embezzled the funds. 

However, the school continues to serve as an oasis for students. A place that protects students from the hustle and bustle of society. A place where students can find peace. Even when students are not learning in school, they are safe and secure. These are the good things about staying in school. So when we get to do that? We will create citizens who can at least hold their government accountable, read doctor’s prescriptions, understand their roles in economic development, make bank transactions and are ethical.

Recommendation to promote learning for people, peace, planet, and prosperity 

  1. Young people should be active implementers of the school curriculum. They live in the 21st century and understand children realities
  2. The curriculum should be reviewed to be a purpose, entrepreneurship, 21st century and sustainable development based. A school fund should be set aside to ensure students as part of their extra-curricular activities carry out an entrepreneurship or development project. The school incubate these ideas and offer mentorship through a partnership with civil society organization
  3. Community-led and based schools should be promoted in schools and partnerships with civil society should be encouraged to complement extra-curricular activities.
  4. Teacher training programs should be reviewed to be 21st century based. More so, the education department at the universities should not be a dumping ground. Premium should be placed on teachers' training and educational sector. When do we do so? The brilliant minds will rally around teaching. Imagine capping teachers' salaries at $600 for an entry-level.
  5. The classroom environment should be arranged in such a way that it promotes collaboration. Examinations should not be the final assessment. However, assessment should be based on the overall wellbeing of a learner. Not just cognitive. The affective and psychomotor too is very important. I am scared that we will continue to produce students who will be a sadist if we continue this way. 

Ultimately, I have heard cries of children and these are cries of a failed society. Maybe they have been failed by the teachers who failed to do their work or parents or Government. Most children are out of school due to one or two stakeholders failure 

Hammed Kayode Alabi 

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