Quality education being a well contested topic on the global stage is no surprise. After all, the prosperity of a country is hinged on the productive capacity of its citizens.
Quality education is an all-encompassing concept. It spans across access to free, equal and universal education for every citizen of a state, the creation and delivery of quality curriculums and educational materials, the existence of well-equipped teachers, the availability of a conducive learning environment, as well as substantial provisions for after-school/extra-curricular activities.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals names Quality Education (SDG 4) as a crucial facet of development, thus, it is no surprise that the leading nations of the world boast of a good image that is partly sponsored by a quality and effective education system.
In the Nigerian context, the government has been committed to fostering quality education through various policy efforts. In this article however, we focus our discussion on the necessity of quality education in slum communities such as Makoko; an area which suffers from absolute deprivation and governmental neglect.
The current nature of slum education comprises of make-shift unaccredited schools with low teaching standards, severely underequipped classrooms, absence of educational materials, and unaffordability. Hence, children who grow up in slum communities are dealt unfairly, with a slim chance at academic excellence. This is why in communities like Makoko, it is no surprise to find a 16-year-old student still in primary six.
What is Elevate Development Foundation doing to promote quality education in Makoko?
For the past 5 years, Elevate Development Foundation has been working hard to understand the state of education in Makoko, and proffer feasible solutions in that regard. In a survey we conducted among the locals, and we found out some of the major threats to quality education that Makoko faces:
Some of these challenges are direct or indirect outcomes of the dire poverty in the community. Because poverty prioritises survival over capacity development, many people in slum communities are forced to focus on survival, leaving little to no room for valuing mental development.
The choice to save up for school fees or to buy a meal to survive is a decision some people have never had to make. Unfortunately, 83 million Nigerians make that decision every single day.
At Elevate, we believe that no one should have to make that decision. We believe that education is a pathway to self-actualisation, and it should not be a luxury for the average Nigerian. Through our Project, Project A.C.E, we are playing our part in seeing that youths like Jephthah and Gloria, two youths from Makoko who are extremely talented but face financial hardships, can achieve their dream of attending university. We are ensuring that young men like Florentin see hope in leading social change in Makoko, rather than contributing to the vices in the community.
At Elevate, we believe that no one should have to make that decision. We believe that education is a pathway to self-actualization, and it should not be a luxury for the average Nigerian.
What can the Government do?
We ascertain that through effective policy design and implementation, the Nigerian government can significantly change the landscape of (slum) education in the country, so we propose the following recommendations;
- Include other mainstream languages alongside English, on a community-by-community basis, in the primary schooling curriculum. e.g. Basic education in Makoko should be in both Egun and English to speed up learning.
- Assess the quality of make-shift schools in slum communities and accredit those that are deemed qualified.
- Social investments in teacher training programs, school refurbishments and after-school extra-curricular activities and entrepreneurial trainings that are relevant to the cultural context of Makoko .e.g. Swimming is a relevant after-school sporting activity for Makoko.
- Consider alternative schooling times and arrangements for kids from slum communities as many opt out of school to hawk/support the economic activities of their family during schooling hours.
What can you do?
We also encourage individuals, social purpose organizations, and for-profit organizations to join the efforts in actualizing SDG 4 in slum communities by:
- Sponsoring students from low-income communities who are financially incapacitated.
- Facilitating career guidance sessions for youths and counseling sessions to address the psychological damage of poverty.
- Investing in alternative education and training pathways e.g. apprenticeships
Conclusively, we are firm believers in the fact that quality education is achievable in slums. However, it is not the duty of the government alone. There is a great need for multi-sectoral partnerships that progressively address the economic, social, environmental, political, and legal dimensions of access to education in slums.
we are firm believers in the fact that quality education is achievable in slums. However, it is not the duty of the government alone. There is a great need for multi-sectoral partnerships that progressively address the economic, social, environmental, political, and legal dimensions of access to education in slums.