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Expert advocates alternative education for Nigerian students

By Tobi Awodipe
31 August 2019   |   3:27 am
As primary and secondary students enjoy their long vacation, experts have encouraged parents and caretakers to consider letting children and youths partake in extra-curricular activities and...

As primary and secondary students enjoy their long vacation, experts have encouraged parents and caretakers to consider letting children and youths partake in extra-curricular activities and ‘alternative learning’ as a means of keeping them occupied and equipping them with necessary life skills needed to navigate paid employment upon graduation.

Chief operating officer of the Leadership Empowerment and Resource Network (LEARN) based in Lagos, Aderonke Oguntoyinbo, revealed that learning shouldn’t just be based on books but should be all encompassing as the world has moved on from conventional classroom learning alone. She added that their aim is to teach and empower youths, offer scholarships and support education as well as alternative education. LEARN is a non-profit programme committed towards leadership development, entrepreneurial skill acquisition, sexuality education, character development and vocational skills acquisition. The programme caters to young people between the ages of 9 and 17 with various activities including summer school program, timeout with youths, excursion visits, afterschool program, scholarship programme and youth empowerment programme.

“In today’s world, it is not only certificates and acquiring education that can help one to be successful. Education is good but there are other alternatives that people can explore and that is part of what we teach here.” She went on to reveal that they have been running the programme for almost 13 years and the number of students that try to get in yearly continues to amaze them.

“While we want them to learn academics, we also want them to have a bit of fun. So, this year, we are taking them in mathematics, science, English, public speaking, event planning, make up and gele, cooking classes, sewing and phone repairs. The pupils and parents are so excited about this. We received so many entries this year; unfortunately, our facilities can only cater for 120 students. We want to take on more students and hopefully, with more support, we would.

In keeping with their commitment to education, Dufil Prima foods donated the sum of N500, 000 to the centre. Other items donated included hundreds of cartons of noodles, educational and learning materials, daily food kitchen to feed the children at the centre amongst others.

Head of public relations and events, Dufil Prima Foods, Tope Asiwaju praised the centre, saying the service the service they’re rendering cannot be quantified. He added that they are proud of LEARN’s consistency over the years in creating alternative platforms for learning and breaking barriers for students in public schools by keeping them away from antisocial practices during the long holiday. He also commended the indigent scholarship programme of the centre where students from low-income backgrounds are offered the opportunity to attend leading educational institutions across the country.

“What the students are gaining from this programme is unbelievable. We found out that the organisers are credible and use funds wisely; this is why we have continued to support them over the years. We come back here yearly and see that the children are happy with the programme as they gain a lot. It is not just about academics alone as they’re being trained to become all-round students. Some of them came here without knowing about proper hygiene, how to tie gele, bead making and so on but they would leave next month knowing all these extra-curricular things that are not really taught in schools. This makes us happy because we see it working and believes that if we commit more funds into it, more students will benefit and that is why we would continue to partner with the programme.”

Presenting a cheque of N500, 000 to the centre, Asiwaju said the financial donation was just a token of the resources that has been put into the initiative which he says is now worth millions of Naira.

“We gave the children products, writing and educational materials and we deployed a mobile kitchen that feeds the children throughout the duration of the programme. It is not about the cash given because we have been a part of this project for over a decade now and if you want to quantify this, it is running into millions of Naira but we are not looking at that as our aim is to encourage an all-round education amongst Lagos children so they go on to become well-rounded adults. We are passionate about supporting quality education and raising the next generation and this is just one of the ways we are doing this,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the students, Vera Nwabueze said she is happy to be a beneficiary of LEARN as she has been equipped with vocational skills. She also thanked Dufil for their support and encouragement towards the summer initiative programme.