OneAfricanChild Kenya (OAC Kenya) embarked on an ESD project that targeted 51 former street children enrolled into a one-year rehabilitation program at Mukuru Promotional Centre. The centre uses both formal and informal approaches to education depending on the age range of the children.
The older ones are equipped with technical skills such as carpentry which will make them self-independent when they graduate from the programs by being assigned to an employer. The main challenges faced by the institution are low self-esteem and relapse to use of drugs given that the students were previously addicts. However, their addiction tendencies are addressed by guidance and counseling which is the main focus of their program.
“The boys at the Centre taught me it is not too late to dream again. Our dreams don’t die; they lie in limbo awaiting the right push, either by others or by ourselves.” – Becky Ntinyari, a member of OAC Kenya.
Facilitators from OAC Kenya were able to reach 51 students by training and equipping them on self-awareness with an objective to build their self-awareness which is an important element towards realizing one’s self-identity. While gathering feedback from the children on the significance of self-awareness, one of the students, Fredrick Omondi, said, “Self-awareness is being able to make decision for myself.”
Through the training, we were able to tackle a number of issues that contribute to one’s identity and characters such as personal belief, feelings, values, weaknesses, strengths, and hobbies. During this session, we gave them the opportunity to draw what or who they would like to become when they grow up. This session inspired them that they could become whoever they wanted to be and at the same time through art get to showcase and develop their creativity.
“Self- awareness is about knowing oneself,” said Zephania Shaka, one of the children at Mukuru Promotional Center.
Leadership was the second aspect that was tackled and the objective of this session was to make them understand that leadership is not about position or leading a group but it begins with being able to take charge of your actions and feelings not only towards yourself but also those you are living with.
“I have been to many other projects before but this particular project was unique given that it was much of interactive and learning experience full of fun not only for the children but also for the facilitators.” – Jeffrey Kosgei, one of the facilitators and a member of OAC Kenya.
“It was a great learning experience for me and my family who join me am glad the kids learnt a lot.” – Agatha Nelima, one of the facilitators and a member of OAC Kenya.
Lastly, the children were engaged in games meant to foster critical thinking, cooperation and build them into active citizens that will value the opinion of others and be able to voice their concerns as they participate in the decision-making process; an ideal that is emphasized by Global Citizenship Education.
The program started around 11:45 am, the students prayed before singing the national anthem.
They also sang their school anthem, and Oluwatosin Ogunsanya came on with the One African Child’s story, “Doing More.” He talked about our present purpose, and the program kicked off with anticipation booming from the students.
The vision of the foundation, *building sustainable leaders and the SDGs*, was introduced by Victoria Ibiwoye. She emphasized on ESD and told each child to become a leader and leave a legacy in life. Victoria told the students how it is vital to becoming an Ethical Leaders. Thus they were charged and prepared for the session.
TOPIC: Building students for leadership and critical thinking. The students picked a number and were divided into groups with a mentor attached to each group.
The Presentation session started with group 2; here is a summary of their presentations.GROUP 2They presented a short drama on whistleblowing and a tv interview imitation of their topic. The student talked about advocacy and mentioned some great advocates of change along with their works. Group 2 students talked about corruption and how to mitigate it.
CRITICAL THINKING IN LEARNING
Group 1 students talked about problems in the educational system. The students provided some solutions: admonishing teachers to be friendly and patient with the student. They also talked about distractions from their fellow students.
HEART TO A LEADER, CRITICAL THINKING.
The students described what critical thinking means, and how bit can be used to solve problems in organizations; the business world and schools, for instance.
The students explained what it means to think critically towards a problem. They also expanded on challenges affecting critical thinking. Finally, they gave steps on how to become a critical thinker, mentioning points like brainstorming research, and so on.
At the conclusion of the presentations, it was fulfilling to see what the students have been imparted with.
Every child is special, and putting smiles on their faces is what we do at One African Child (OAC), especially on Children’s Day. This year, we decided to celebrate children on the streets. Donations were made in cash and kind, in anticipation of May 27th. Finally, the day is here, 2 pm is the time of takeoff. Sorting of items was done by Chizaram and Gift. Excitement is in the air, as OAC members start trooping in their OAC shirts. A 19-man team set to put smiles on children’s faces and impact them positively. After a photo session, everybody hopped into the bus, where Obianuju gave the prayers for the success of the outreach. We were set to go.
Our first point of call was Iwo road (Abe bridge)- a commercial center in the city of Ibadan known to have less privileged children. Welcoming us was the pungent smell of urine; the children came flocking around, stretching their hands for some alms. Our ever ready OAC volunteers were up to the task to share love to those children. We got to interact with the young newcomers: painting their faces, playing with them and sharing some gift items. Amongst the children was Aishat, a very striking-active, full of life, promising and friendly. We couldn’t satisfy all their needs, nevertheless, we left them happy.
Our tour continued to the next point of call- Mokola. Mokola is known for its hills and its striking challenge: access to drinking water. The bus stopped at the popular Group Medical Hospital. The team was set to reach out to the less privileged kids of Mokola, who were mobilized with the help of Muyiwa. We got to interact with those children. We met Basit who is just 14 years old, his father stopped him from going to school at primary four, to attend the Arabic school popularly known as ‘ile kewu’. He lives with Alfa Nurudeen Olore (is this person famous) at Oniyanrin.
We also met with Afeez who hawks pure water on the streets; he’s presently in primary five. We painted their faces, sang and danced, then took pictures with them. I must say those children were ecstatic after they received the gifts. It’s Children’s Day and the goal this year is to celebrate the street kids. Our last point of call was the popular Bodija market.
Bodija market is a commercial hub centrally located in the heart of Ibadan, known for its high rate of social vices. Lots of love to share as we scouted for the children there. We got them settled down, painted their faces, took pictures and shared some gifts. That was time well spent. We were set to leave, saying our goodbyes, then we hopped on the bus heading back to the University of Ibadan, a little bit tired, but with a great sense of fulfillment.
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.
The Compassionate Hands for the Disabled Foundation was founded in 2009 in Korogocho slums but moved to Ruai due to the increase in the number of kids in the institution. It caters for 85 mentally and physically disabled kids up to 21+ years, with almost 10 educators. They are taken through a therapy process and are also equipped with life skills including beadwork and computer literacy lessons apart from the basic formal education. The center is faced with a number of challenges, among them are lack of sanitary pads for girls, insufficient food especially cereals and fruits because most of them are under medication.
The project’s goal was to teach the disabled kids and their educators on Education for Sustainable Development, in line with One African Child Foundation’s objective for this year.
UNESCO defines Education for Sustainable Development as including key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning; for example, climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, and sustainable consumption. It also requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behavior and take action for sustainable development.
OAC Kenya Volunteers coaching students during the training
What we did
The activities carried out were planned based on the numbers and characteristics of the group, bearing in mind the time and the length of the training. A number of kids were teachable and were separated according to their classes and specific needs. The main mode of education is non-formal. Volunteers supported this project by sending their contribution to enable adequate planning, sparing their time and effort to attend and also utilize their skills on ESD by engaging in education for the kids and the educators.
There was a therapy session for those kids with cerebral palsy. A pre-visit to the venue was conducted by Agatha and Jeffrey, who documented full information on what is needed to make the project successful.
“I was amazed by the different abilities possessed by children living with disability. It made me realize that disability is only a Perception, that if given resources, opportunity and a conducive environment, disabled children can become very productive in helping to solve societal problems, rather than being viewed as a burden to the society. They can become part of the change that the society so much long for.” – Brian Juma
The Target Group and Training
The kids were of ages between 5 to 21 years, most of whom move freely but others are in wheelchairs. The children were divided into 4 groups, including those with cerebral palsy, autism, small children, and others with other disabilities. 85 mentally and physically disabled kids up to 21+ years, with almost 10 educators were targeted for this project. Training materials covering the contents for the program were prepared and packaged for the participants by John Shivisi. The training involved individual and group exercises, team building activities as well as input from the facilitators. There were many opportunities to raise questions or concerns throughout the training.
“I learnt that having a disability doesn’t stop me from getting an education and I also learnt that it is important to appreciate and value everyone no matter the condition.” – Agatha Wanzala
Comments from Volunteers
Agatha exclaimed that the visit was a great learning experience; and that it made her appreciate life and everyone around her and taught her that disability is not inability. Chebet thought that being a part of the event shows that there’s still good in the world. She said there were selfless people willing to make an impact that will go a long way in nurturing African children who have a big role in shaping Africa’s tomorrow. Shivisi concluded that from his interaction with those wonderful kids and having engaged them in his lessons, that it was crystal clear that no two children look alike. He emphasized that this has strengthened his belief in getting the best out of every learner, and to help every child reach full potential. He talked of every child needing an individualized education plan, and that educators needed to give attention to every bit of detail about every learner.
On her side, Makena commented that every day was a learning day for her and that she had learned never to take anything for granted. She was amazed by the skills unexploited yet possessed by some of the kids, whom she described as being abled differently. Lindah was amazed by the work volunteers did, and vowed to stay committed and engage in the coming projects. Ng’etich appreciated the team for the good work, Bonny thanked the leadership, while Nyash was glad the team had put a smile on the kids’ faces. Jeffrey agreed with the volunteers’ experience, citing that every child was unique and had the best to offer.
One African Child Kenya Volunteers presenting donations to CHDF staff
Challenges encountered in the Project Execution
There were a set of kids who couldn’t be taught, owing to their mental and/or physical disabilities, so they couldn’t concentrate or coordinate their actions, thus they were unable to learn. The plausibility of including all the children in the learning activities in alignment with the goal of inclusivity was a major challenge and inadequate resources, based on the fact that the target population was too large.
In conclusion, the project was highly successful and it was a great initiative that impacted not only the children and the educators but also the volunteers as they had a lot to learn from the experience. The project achieved its objectives and even despite the challenges faced, children were delighted to have the team around. The project was an eye opener as it exposed volunteers to the challenges faced by disabled persons. The commitment, selflessness, and empathy of the volunteers made the whole difference and made this project a unique one. The team wishes to continue fulfilling the vision of One African Child to empower learners and educators on ESD.
CHDF kids during the training sessions