…Free education is a right, not a privilege!
Below we publish two articles from the website of Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI in Nigeria) reporting on the "holiday coaching" initiative of the Education Rights Campaign, initiated by the DSM in order to fight for the right to free quality public education for the working masses.
AJEGUNLE ERC STARTS THIS YEAR’S EDITION OF FREE SUMMER COACHING
By Moshood Oshunfunrewa
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) – a campaign platform of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) which fights for free and functional education – has started this year’s edition of its annual summer coaching for secondary school students in the Ajegunle community of Lagos State. It will last for almost 8 weeks.
The free summer coaching, which is held daily from 9am to 1pm at the Anglican primary School Ajegunle, started on August 6th, 2012 with 82 students. On the first day, subjects like Mathematics, English Language, Government and commerce were taught. The coaching ended on the first day with an orientation class by Dagga Tolar (DSM E.C member and editor of the Socialist Democracy) where he spoke about the essence of education and reading.
By the second day, there was noticeable increase in the number of students and volunteer teachers in attendance. The number of students in SSS 1 was 31, SSS 2 was 55 and SSS 3 was 61 all totaling 121 students.
The summer coaching which has been organized annually over the past years provides opportunities for poor secondary school children in the working class slum of Ajegunle to study during the annual long vacation. Last year, over 200 students attended the coaching with the participation of a total of 25 volunteer teachers.
It is part of the campaign program of the ERC to highlight the condition of the poor in Ajegunle and other such poor communities across the country who cannot afford the cost of quality education. The coaching during the long vacation is extremely vital for many students preparing for secondary school certificate examinations and entrance examinations into higher institutions especially against the background of the collapse in the quality and standard of education in both public and private schools.
This year’s edition has started with a renewed commitment from members of the DSM/ERC, volunteer teachers and former students to ensure the sustenance of the coaching. Most of the teachers, who are readily eager to give back to their community, are graduates of different universities degree holders teaching in neighboring private schools, public schools and Lagos state EKO project.
We also have students that have benefitted from past editions of the free holiday coaching coming around to lend some help. These students aid in tutoring some subjects and assisting in keeping the coaching premises orderly.
The free holiday coaching has been one among many of the activities of the organization to support and fight for the vast less privileged residents in the community and this has increased the profile of ERC.
Four subjects are taken per day as teachers ensure that the classes are interactive and use five to thirteen examples to make it easy for students to understand the topic being taught. Not only is the curriculum very flexible to accommodate initiatives, students and the volunteer teachers are involved in daily meetings and discussions on how to best improve the coaching.
Just like previous years, the summer coaching will also include activities like career and counseling talks every Friday, drama, poetry, public meetings and a symposium at the end. Mock examinations will also be organized with prizes given to the three best students from the various classes. With the zeal and commitment shown in the first few days from both members of the DSM/ERC as well as volunteer teachers, this year’s free summer coaching promises to be as exciting and successful as last year, if not more.
ONE WEEK OF ERC’S HOLIDAY COACHING
Moshood Oshunfurewa, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI in Nigeria)
The free holiday coaching going on in Ajegunle for students of Senior Secondary school in Anglican Primary School, located at Arumoh Street via Boundary Road is just one among the many activities of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) – a campaign platform of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) – to campaign for adequate funding especially of basic primary and secondary education.
The free coaching is an annual program that has been sustained in Ajegunle branch of the organization since its commencement in 2004 and the program has been impacting positively on the life of children of artisans, unemployed parents and the poor working people of Ajegunle.
It is an obvious fact that the usual phenomenon of hardship that characterizes the day to day life of students from poor working class background is not only peculiar to the slum city of Ajegunle in Nigeria. Students from poor backgrounds often have to engage in selling of “pure” water (sachet water), soft drinks, credit unit cards etc. on highways aside other forms of menial activities during the long holiday so as to earn a penny to sustain their families during this period which make them exposed to untimely death, casual sex, rape and other forms of social menace.
This condition of poor working class youth is not unconnected to the pro-rich capitalist system which in its blind pursuit of profit places no value on the lives and future of young people. Instead of using Nigeria’s resources to fund education adequately, all government does is looting and lip-service. As a result, education remains enmeshed in age-old crisis: overcrowded classes, absurd teacher students ratio, lack of toilet facilities and playing ground, dilapidated infrastructures as well as chronic under funding of education, lack of better teachers welfare packages. Once it rains in some schools, the next thing is compulsory holiday for the students and teachers because of leaking classroom roofs and flood.
For instance, a young student of about 9 years old came to the venue of the coaching while returning from hawking of “pure” water, asked several intelligent questions regarding the coaching class. He would only be able to join the coaching next week (week two) as, according to him, he has to earn his daily bread first! The details of the boy’s questions show genuine love to learn but the colossal failure of government at all levels to provide free, quality and compulsory education and anti-poor neo-liberal policies of the Nigeria capitalist class means the chance of this young boy and many others like him to get educated is at best precarious.
MOBILIZATION FOR THE FREE HOLIDAY LESSON
The planning and mobilization for this year’s free summer coaching has so far been successful. There has been large turn-out of students. More and more students from Apapa, Orile, Wilmer, Amukoko and other Ajegunle environs are trouping in for the lesson.
Two thousand copies of flyers were produced and circulated among the students and parents in the communities by members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) / Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and students who are contacts in their respective schools. The colourful and attractive banner displayed at the entrance of the lesson also help to draw attention of passerby parents and students to the lesson.
Early data shows average attendance per day to be 68 for SSS 1, 56 for SSS 2 and 58 for SSS 3. This makes a total of an average of 182 students per day in the first week of the commencement of the coaching since August 6th, 2012. This shows tremendous progress as it surpasses last year’s attendance by 18.95%. This is significant given the fact in the past one week many students were unable to attend the coaching class because they had to go to their respective schools to collect their examination results.
Last Friday, there was a career and counseling talk with Hassan Taiwo Soweto (ERC National Coordinator) and comrade Davinovich speaking on ‘Youth and Education’. We also had our first Volunteer Teachers’ meeting on Saturday. The teacher’s meeting is a democratic assembly of teachers and members of the DSM/ERC. It takes place every week and allows teachers to be involved in discussions on how to organize and improve the coaching.
The free holiday coaching started about eight years ago. The beauty of this year’s edition of the coaching is that four of the students who are beneficiaries of the past free summer coaching are assisting as teachers: Mr Emma, an undergraduate of mathematics in Lagos State Universities (LASU), Mr Nduka Ebube, an undergraduate student of chemistry in Imo State University (IMSU) and Mr kolawole Paul and Innocent are prospective candidates at the respective universities of their choice. Many of the past volunteer teachers are also on ground for the year’s edition of the coaching.