The Frontlines of My Life: My Vision for the Future

Raquel Jacobs
Posted March 22, 2016 from Nigeria
Teacher Training Workshop
Classroom Managment.
Classroom Managment. (1/7)

“Why is his uniform and socks badly torn?” His sandals are the other way round and they are worn out! I followed him to school and saw other children kneeling down. I looked around and noticed a teacher with a cane; he flogged a child and said, “Next time, you will tell your parents to buy you socks!”…. I quickly jumped in, “It is not their fault that they have no socks”. I said out loud! The man looked at me and said, “If I don’t flog them, they won't tell their parents they need socks”…. I have never heard such a statement before in my life. “What if I want to buy them socks? Will you let them all go?”

I will like to tell you a little about me and the state I was in that day; I was in my second year in the University, broke and was walking to school the time I saw that boy. My account was empty, I hadn’t had breakfast, had no idea where the next meal was going to come from and there I was asking this teacher if he would let the children go should I buy them socks.

He said to me smiling “Are you buying socks for all the children in the school?” I said “yes” and immediately I asked, “How many children are in the school again?” “1000” he said. The children started screaming when he let them go. That was when I realized that I had made a terrible mistake. How could I have promised to buy socks for 1000 children when I don’t even have money to feed? What was I thinking?

I kept murmuring and talking to myself as I got into my school. “How do I get funds to buy socks for 1000 children?” I asked myself.

We finally provided socks for 1000 children the week after and the excitement of the children got to me. I started looking around the school and that was when I noticed some of the children had nylon bags as school bags, the ceiling was leaking and the boards are actually black walls and not even blackboards. I spoke to a few teachers and my heart broke; we couldn’t hold a conversation with some of them. How then can they impact the lives of these children?

After a series of visits back and forth to the schools, I realize that even the government is not helping the situation. They hire teachers that have no qualification to teach the future leaders of the nation. The public primary school system has more children that the private school. So why is there no infrastructure in place to help this system thrive?

My journey started with that little boy and five years down the line, I could say categorically that it was completely worth it. We have tried so many approaches in solving the problems with the public primary system. We have provided free school supplies, we organized free after school clubs, we organized special programs to help girls stay in school, we replaced the black boards with whiteboards, and we also trained the teachers. We organized graduation and Christmas parties. The major challenge has always been manpower and the funds. We have sourced for funds for our project on social media for four yeas without a single sponsor.

After 5 years, I can say that the problem with the major problem to be handled is teacher training.

My heart is constantly drawn to the public primary system and seeing the children and their teachers breaks my heart. The teachers need continuous and in-service training. Some of them lack self-confidence while some have no skills to handle the classroom. My dream is to have a teacher-training center where we are able to train teachers to teach the children better.

Our intervention at Beyond the Classroom Foundation is beyond providing free school supplies, our intervention is now focused on teacher training and organising free technology literacy clubs for the children. We have seen the impact of the trainings in the past on the teachers and on the children. As a trained teacher from the University of Lagos, I always thought I studied Education so I can own a school in the future but day-by-day I’m beginning to see that it is really not about owning a school but that I can make more impact on more children through teacher training. Really, my heart has been in the education space but and my desire is to fix the problem starting with teacher training. I spoke to my vision mentor about the need to create module

Comments 10

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Emily Miki
Mar 23, 2016
Mar 23, 2016

Hey Raquel, I love your name! You said it all. The public educational sectors are terribly managed even back here in Cameroon. About your work with children I would love to norminate for World of Children Awards. Let me message you on Facebook. Keep walking the talk sister.

Raquel Jacobs
Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

Hey Emilia,

Thank you very much. I received your message about the nomination and I sincerely appreciate. You are a blessing.

Best regards,

Carolyn Seaman
Mar 23, 2016
Mar 23, 2016

Hi Raquel,

Great work you are doing. Addressing the public education system is truly important. And I commend your work building teachers' capacity to effectively teach their students. 

My work is also starting out with the girls in the public school system because I have also argued the assumption that education is equivalent to empowerment. Our public school system is not dynamic and is unable to provide other empowerment options for students. And that limitation is further worsened by our children's poor academic achievement. 

I am curious to learn if you have any statistics resource that shows the defective educational system in our public schools. It would be a useful resource to support my decision to focus my work on girls in the public school system. On my part, I would love to work with you to produce a short documentary profiling your work (of course, that is if you consider this a useful resource for your work). 

Looking forward to positive collaborations in the future.

Warm regards,

Raquel Jacobs
Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

Hello Carolyn, Thank you very much ma for your comment. I am pleased you also have an undertanding of our school sysytem here in Nigeria. The issues regarding statstics has been one that I have had difficulties putting my finger on. I work with 10 different Schools and that is as far as I have.

I a availbale for the profiling and doocumentary anytime you are free. This is very exciting newss. Thank you very much!

Best regards,

Carolyn Seaman
Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

Great Raquel,

We can work around available times, really. 

As a first step, can you write up a story that you think best depicts your work and profiles your greatest change story; And you can share the stories of 2-3 teachers and pupils who have benefitted from your projects and would make for great interviews in your documentary.

When you send me the story, I can make out a script from that and then we can move forward with plans to make a short documentary about your cause.

My email is carolynseaman@hotmail.com

Warm regards,

ARREY - ECHI
Mar 25, 2016
Mar 25, 2016

The desire for change can be so strong that often times, we start just with what we have, our determination and convictions that we can impact the change. You are doing a great job changing the educatioanl  system out there. It is a plaque for many public schools around Africa which needs serious revamping if children can have the opportunity to learn and become change makers in future. keep going strong.

Raquel Jacobs
Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

Hey Arrey,

Thank you very much for your kind words.

Best regards,

Kristina M
Mar 26, 2016
Mar 26, 2016

Dear Raquel,

It made me sad to read how one of the biggest problems in your schools is lack of teacher training.  I remember taking a few classes from teachers who probably should have had a different job.  Fortunately most of my teacher were trained and motivated to be teaching students. 

I smiled when I read that you have realized that you can make more of an impact teaching the teachers instead of the children.  I hope your dream of a teacher training center comes true soon. 

Raquel Jacobs
Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

Hi Kristina,

Thank you very much for your kind words. Yes, the teacher training has now become one of our major interventions. We will still provide free school supplies, but we will focus more on imparting the teachers. I look forward to hearig more from you.

Best regards,

Stephanie Auxier
Mar 29, 2016
Mar 29, 2016

Hi Raquel,

Thank you for sharing your experience as a teacher, and bringing more awareness to the complexity of the issues you are facing. You communicate your vision for change so clearly - it is powerful! And the story you share at the start of your piece really highlights the need for teacher training. I am sure that man did not know the impact he was having by disciplining the boy for his socks, but that is why teacher training is so important - not only so the teachers have knowledge of the subjects they are teaching, but also so they know how to best reach and empower the students. 

The work you are doing is so important. It is easy to see all of the barriers to creating real change, but what is much more difficult, and what you have done, is to find a clear way forward despite all of the challenges. You are doing very important work!

Best,

Stephanie

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