Education is a human right and a catalyst for social change. It is the single most vital element in combating poverty, empowering women, safeguarding children from exploitative and hazardous labour and sexual exploitation, promoting human rights and democracy, protecting the environment and controlling population growth.
As stated in a 2002 report on Human Development, "as a path towards international peace and security, education is the foundation of a free and fulfilled life". "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation". (Nelson Mandela).
Yet, in many rural communities in Africa students attend classes in sub-standard ramshackle structures. Shown above is what passes for a block of classrooms in Umuaka, South-Eastern Nigeria. How can children learn in such environments?
Education is a fundamental right of all children, and a responsibility that must be shared by all people. We have established the Educate The Children to provide the children in the rural villages of Africa with the opportunity to build a fulfilled life for themselves.
The 2015 H. B. Beal Summer School staff and student raised $400 during their multicultural day celebration held on the school ground on Wednesday. July 23. Students gathered to share foods from different cultures and listened to music from several cultures complement of Mr. R. Andrews, the summer school supervisor.
H.B. Beal students from Mrs. Liz Akano's BOG4E1 Business Leadership class have donated the proceeds from their Apprenticeship Challenge (over $400) to help fellow students on the other side of the world.
Through the charitable organization Educate the Children, the Beal students are helping to provide infrastructure, learning materials, school uniforms, and scholarships to students in rural Nigeria.
Educate The Children recently launched a "Children Helping Children" campaign in schools across the Valley, and will extend the campaign to the Catholic Board in early 2011.
On hand as the students presented their check to VP of the board of Educate the Children, Ken Williams, were Beal Principal Mr. Don Macpherson, proud teacher Mrs. Akano, and London Fanshawe MPP Mr. Khalil Ramal.
During the recent Basketball Tournament at Regina Mundi College, the girls decided to donate all money raised from concession sales to Educate the Children. This is to support our effort to provide better school facilities in rural Nigeria.
Under the leadership of Coach Phil Swan, the girl's raised a total of $500 and presented the check to Liz Akano, Chair of Educate the Children.
In the summer of 2011, Liz Akano and London's jazz vocalist, Denise Pelley visited the site of the project in Ugbele, Akah in Eastern Nigeria. During this visit, the project site was cleared and the foundation of the classroom block of the school project was laid.
The entire trip was such an amazing experience for both of us. Seeing the joy and excitement in the faces of the children, their teachers, and the community members was more rewarding than anything else. Because our visit was so close to the last day of school before summer holiday, our visit with the students and teachers was very short but we managed to visit every class, from nursery 1 to primary 6 classes. We even organized a grad photo for the graduating class of 2011, and we were entertained by the students with songs and dances.
The headmistress was generous enough to give the students an extended recess to allow us time to interact with them, share greetings from the Board of Educate the Children and give them treats (mainly lollipops) we brought along with us. We also gave T-Shirts donated by H. B. Beal Secondary School to the graduating class. The students were so excited and thankful for the gifts. Coincidentally, the t-shirts were the same colour as the uniform for the school (photos below).
As with the custom, Denise and I visited the Eze's palace. The position of the Eze is similar to that of the mayor in the Canadian system. We were given a very warm welcome by Eze Akpaka 1 of Ugbele Akah and the entire community represented by the eze's chiefs. They were very appreciative of the school we are building in the community and they all pledged their support and help to ensure that the project proceeds as planned.
We also had the opportunity to visit the women's group at their biweekly meeting. They shared their concerns for their children and education as well as their appreciation to Educate the Children and the project in Ugbele Ahah.
Denise and I visited other elementary as well as secondary schools in the neighbouring towns. It was very obvious that most of the schools share similar challenges of infrastructure decay, lack of sanitation and serious lack of instructional/learning materials.
Denise's visit was cut short due to a prior commitment she had to perform in Dubai the following week. A week after I saw her off to the Abuja airport, I was back in the village to oversee the start of the project. First I met with the headmistress, some of her teachers and the chiefs to discuss our plans to commence the construction of the classroom block, the expectations and responsibilities of all involved. The eze and the chiefs were very enthusiastic and offered to provide assistance where and when needed. Plans were made for the town crier to inform the youth to gather the next morning with their machetes, axes, and other tool they may need to clear the project site. By 6:30 a.m. the next morning all men, young and old gathered at the site to cut down, pieces and remove palm trees and other big trees at the site. Before dawn, the site was completely cleared and ready for the digging of the foundation.
The next morning, the contractor and his workers as well as some volunteers were at the site to dig the foundation and start pouring the concrete for the footing. They worked tirelessly for the next ten days to complete the footing and the block work for the foundation of the classroom block, consisting of 16 classrooms and 6 stalls of boy's and girl's bathrooms.
Educate the Children is very appreciative of the work that has been done so far and would like to thank our donors, supporters, and volunteers who have made it possible. There are still a lot of work to be done in order to complete the Ugbele Akah project. We are looking forward to continuing work with the next phase of the project, the German floor in a short while.