TRANSFORMING EDUCATION: THE TAKE OF HIM, WHO FATE FOUND (1)

August 12 was International Youth Day and the theme for this year interestingly was ‘Transforming Education.’

I took the whole day and the next to ruminate on this theme and I began to conclude that one of the keys to Transforming Education, particularly in Africa is for individuals within our nation to recognise their roles in the sector and play it actively.

First, we must admit that education is beyond what is today known as the formal arrangements, where our precious children are confined within the four walls of classrooms and loaded with knowledge, relevant or irrelevant in a factory mass production manner. Schools often forget that they are offering individualized services to a child but in a general fashion. We forget that no child attends schools in proxy for another, even where they are siblings. Therefore, it seems me to be that the commitment to give every child the attention, respect and treatment his/her individuality demands and deserves have been offered for sacrifice on the altar of mass produced educational services.

We must admit that everything in the society socialises the child and educate or miseducate him/her, prepares him/her or unprepare him/her for the realities of today and the challenges of the future.

Let me speak today as a consistent stakeholder and active participant both in the formal and informal educational sectors in Nigeria.

You see, my foray into the formal educational sector since 1997 was more of divine orchestration than an intentionally crafted personal mission. The only thing I knew I set out to do as Social Development and Public Interest Lawyer is to bring to the very front burner of private and public conscience and consciousness, the rights and the responsibilities of the African child for due respect in the best interest of the the precious African child.

As I set out on this mission, working with all cadres of the society, particularly within the private and public school system, preaching with the doggedness of the spirit, soul and body, the Glorious Gospel of Securing A Friendly and PROTECTIVE Environment™ for the precious African children, things began to fall in line, according to God’s eternal plan for my life.

My exposure to the school system in the foregoing regard revealed to me how many teachers I came across and observed both within the private and public school system were not only dispassionate but perfunctory in the discharge of their duties(both of care and teaching) to the precious children under their care. I was quick to juxtapose my childhood experiences in the hands of my teachers and it dawned on me that things have not changed or they were even getting worse regarding how teachers see and treat the precious children under their care.

I felt there must be something I can do to deliberately call attention to this discovery and also turn the tide in the best interest of the precious children, who were more of victims than pupils/students.

My team and I embarked on biographical studies of teachers within the formal and informal sectors, around the world and in different generations, who have transformed the lives of the precious children under their care. We studied Tai Solarin, Maria Montessori, Ron Clark, Erin Gruwell, Booker T. Washington, Janusz Korczak, Mama Ekundayo, Efren Peñaflorida and many others.

The objectives of our study were clear: who were these people? How were they formed? What did they know that the Nigerian teachers do not know? How do we achieve a child-centred teaching profession in Nigeria? Our research efforts yielded what I considered gold. The efforts produced a training program known as The TeacherFIRE™ Revolution.

As it’s name is, it literally caught fire within the school system in Nigeria. That was the program that brought us in contact with Dr. Mrs. Femi OGUNSANYA, disseminated in 2 sessions at the 3rd APEN Conference, 2011. Thousands of teachers have today experienced the magic and transformative power in The TeacherFIRE™ Revolution.

It was The TeacherFIRE™ Revolution that the British Council got to know about and launched me into the path of School Leaders, Core and Transferable Skills validated trainer for the British Council under her Connecting Classrooms initiative since 2013.

Now, speaking as a Subject Matter Expert in the area of Securing A Friendly and PROTECTIVE Environment™ and a validated trainer for the British Council’s School Leadership, Core and Transferable Skills (also known as the 21st Century Skills), I have come to understand the Nigerian Educational System to a reasonable measure and I count my experiences rich and priceless, my findings genuine and thorough and the solutions thereof authentic, home-grown and workable.

Tomorrow, Thursday, August 15, I will continue this conversation, sharing how at a personal level, I think education can be transformed in Nigeria. I beseech you to make it a date with me.

Do have an INSPIRED day.

Yours IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PRECIOUS AFRICAN CHILD,
Taiwo AKINLAMI

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