The training which was held on April 8, 2017 started with a detailed recapitulation of System Thinking by
Mr Muyiwa Kotila, Regional Director of OAC Ibadan.
Gift Agboro, Programs Director of OAC Ibadan talked about the possible problems we might face in promoting the ESD program in schools as planned especially in working with public schools. Some solutions were raised and certain questions were left unanswered for us to ponder on and think up likely solutions.
Then, the first facilitator, Mrs Chineze Oluwasina of Girls Afrique, came up to facilitate a session on Gender and Education. She also offered solutions to the problem raised earlier on. One of the proposed solutions was the inclusion of school teachers in facilitation processes by giving them slots too and having a round table talk with teachers to make them aware that we are not coming to say their methods are wrong but we just want to profer methods that could improve their facilitation.
Then she started off on the talk on gender and education. We were made to understand that sex is different from gender and that gender roles can shift. She stressed on the need for excellent communication skills; allowing students to be free and not stifle their emotions in the process of learning. She enjoins us not to be bias and place expectations on students just based on their gender. She mentioned that one of the challenges we face in Africa is Leadership because a lot of people misunderstand sex from gender roles. As educators, we are to place no limitation on children students based on their sex.
We took a break and did some games on social and racial acceptance. It was educative and fun.
Then the second facilitator, Mr. Babatunde Vaughan, took the topic ‘Human Centered Pedagogy (HCP).’ He defined it as a guided facilitation inspired by learners. It gives the power back to the learner, places the learner at the center of the teaching. Human centered pedagogy is empathic. It is collaborative. It consists of lifelong learning life skills, problem based learning and interest mapping. We were made to understand that we learn in school to transform the world. Human centered pedagogy brings teaching to the root of every child. We learnt about life skills which involve communication, problem solving, creativity, collaboration and problem based learning. We were taught about service based learning and the sum total of HCP is to make the child own his learning.
The second training organised by OneAfricanChild Foundation was focused on teaching educators 21st-century skills to successfully facilitate Education Sustainability Development (ESD). The session had 17 educators participated in series of innovative activities aimed at enhancing their knowledge of ESD.
The training started with an introductory exercise called “My People” for the educators to share more about where they come from and uncover layers of their identity in a way that is informative and entertaining. A volunteer had this to share:
“My people are Jemimah. My people are creative and love artwork. My people hold each other in high esteem. My people are strong and optimistic. My people are hopeful in seemingly hopeless situations. My people believe that raising a child is a joint responsibility. My people are black, bold are beautiful.”
This fun way of introduction is a true reflection of who a person is beyond their professional qualifications and it taught the educators that they can also introduce creative means to get to know their students better. Also, it is another way to find a common ground with people who share similar values and skills.
Director of OAC, Victoria Ibiwoye, continued with the training by asking a simple question: “Who was your favourite teacher in primary or secondary school and what skill did they have that stood out?”. The educators shared few skills of their favourite childhood teachers such as the relationship; love and affection; communication skills; storytelling skills; creativity and innovation; understanding individual learning styles and co-learning with students.
Olamide Ogunsanya, a tutor of Lifematics and also a volunteer, buttressed the point that teachers are to be passionate about teaching the right thing to students in a way that is creative and relevant to their learning culture. She shared an example of how she had to change her facilitation style when working with community kids who found it difficult to understand her language and relate with her examples. When she switched to using examples from their locality, the level of interest and participation increased. Olamide also encouraged the use of educational apps and global exchange opportunities, for example, connecting students with fellow students outside Nigeria to share learning experiences brings them closer to ESD.
Ara Atobatele, a facilitator and volunteer of OAC, also highlighted the relevance of empathy in connecting to the emotions of learners, especially learners with special needs. Teachers need to show empathy to welcome all students into the learning community.
Victoria guided the participants through a paper-folding activity to teach the educators on Perspective Taking. A sheet of paper was distributed to each educator and instructions were given afterward. The participants were asked to close their eyes and do as they were told. They were all given the same instructions with their eyes closed but ended up with different results when asked to open their eyes and hold the paper above their head. In order to restructure the way education is being delivered in Nigeria, there is a need to be aware of our own biases as educators and learn to appreciate and accept the perspectives our students bring into the classroom.
Victoria went on to introduce the birthday timeline exercise that encouraged educators to think about how they communicate when they can’t use their words to express themselves. Participants were divided into two teams and were asked to introduce themselves according to their day and month of birth on a single line. They were to do this without talking, writing or using any props e.g identification cards. This means they must find an alternative way to communicate. After accomplishing the task, each time was asked to say their day and month of birth to test if they were well arranged and how well they worked together. Both teams made a great effort but some of the participants stood in the wrong place. This activity is a way to show educators that communication goes beyond what we say, more importantly, is how we say it. Effective communication means understanding the complexity of communication which involves verbal and non-verbal means of communicating messages to our students.
Also, another exercise called the “lily pad” was facilitated by Ara Atobalele to teach educators about the importance of leadership, strategic planning, teamwork, patience and, much more.
The final exercise was to teach educators about Complex Problem Solving through a simulation exercise called “Sinking Boat”. The exercise presented a dilemma in which the educators have to save 11 people from a sinking boat including the sailor. The individuals to be saved include: an 87 old grandmother, a pregnant woman, your sister, a gay man, an alcoholic, a man convicted of rape, a man tested positive for HIV, a pastor, an Imam, a kleptomaniac and a politician. The participants eventually made a choice on who to save and who to let go.
After much brainstorming, each group came up with a list of who they have chosen to save. The instruction, however, was to save 11 people and that was the exact number of names on the list, but most of the educators did not think about this as they still had to choose some names while allowing others to drawn. This exercise placed educators in the position of students where they learnt vital lessons such as paying attention to details, having an open mind when solving problems and putting aside individual biases.
We didn’t forget to get feedback as we closed this wonderful session. We had lots of contributions and our participants are so excited to attend our future training on ESD. It was clear from the training that the future of Africa is secure with educators working for sustainable development.