Thursday, 19 August 2010

Aunty Lucy in Dutse

(Substitue the L for D in Lucy and you pronounce Dutse correctly!)

Strange things are happening to me here in Nigeria. I am drinking tea, and sort of enjoying it and I am dipping my chips in tomato ketchup! Those of you who know me well will realise this is not normal!

I am actually on a workshop in Abuja this week with 4 Nigerian colleagues from Jigawa which is the State I am working in. We are together with representatives from 4 other States in Nigeria. This is what we are trying to do: (I am only just beginning to understand the process so I hope it makes sense to you)

With support from ESSPIN, Jigawa’s Education Board have recently selected 30 people (all Muslim men) to create a team that gives support to head teachers, governors and school communities to help develop and make improvements in their schools. This team is called the State School Improvement Team (SSIT).

Very soon ESSPIN are going to give schools a small fund (150000 Naira = £650) so they can buy basic things like text books, chalk, stationary etc or they can use the money to fix broken furniture or repaint blackboards etc. The best way to spend the money would be on teacher training as recent results have shown that 70% of Year 6 Teachers scored less than 40% on the Year 6 end of year test papers! The money they spend has to relate to what is on their newly written School Development Plan. This funding is also an incentive to the Head Teachers to finish their School Self Evaluation and write a School Development Plan in which they have just had some training.

We are being trained to deliver financial management training to the SSIT. The SSIT will then deliver the training to the Head Teachers and governors. The training is vital so that schools will know how to spend the money wisely and account for it.

The training we are being given is very basic and alarmingly there is still a lot of confusion, debating and questioning. It is as basic as how to log what you have spent in a cash book and how to write a receipt! It is assumed that the SSIT will find it even more difficult to comprehend than we do!!!

I am really happy to be in Abuja, mainly to have contact with the other VSOs who are on the course. Ease of conversation and being understood is bliss. As the new VSO I am grateful for their advice and the chance to gossip and I am especially grateful to finally have some female company! As you can see I am enjoying a luxurious hotel with huge bed 3 pillows wide! Nigerians apparently are known for their huge beds.

Here we are enjoying beers by the pool with the other volunteers who are based in Abuja. We are either British, American, German or Canadian.

The strangest thing of all was that one of my work colleagues thought I was 50 years old! After a few guesses I left it as being under 40! I didn’t want to loose the wisdom and status that comes with being older. Igwe, the guest house manager, also told me not to tell anyone your age because if you are younger than them they will not listen to you!

Also I have been called Aunty a few times. I understand it to be a sign of acceptance and respect from others, but I am also now slightly worried that it also refers to someone older! I will inquire when I get back to Dutse.


  1. Hi Lucy

    Good to hear what you are up to! Looks like you are settling in ok. You are obviously being kept busy!

    I can't believe they though you were over 50!

    I came back on Sat form Exmouth - I had been helping as a volunteer on a holiday arranged by Mother's Union for families that for varying reasons had not had holidays or needed a break - it was a fun week but quite emothional at times talking to some of the families. Thursday night was talent night and 4 of us dressed up as Tele Tubbies!

    I can't believe we go back to school in 9 days!

    Any way Take care and I look forward to hearing more about your life in Nigeria.


  2. Hi Lucy,

    Don't worry about the age. When I was in Domenica the children thought I was 80!!!!!
    I think they must guage your age by how tall you are.
    Haven't exercised your bike yet but might take it to school if the weather is good.
    Lots of love,