Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Schools in Jigawa State

Finally, after living in Nigeria for 9 weeks as a VSO Teacher Trainer, I have had the experience of visiting schools. The reason it has taken so long was because I arrived at the start of the school holidays and the children have only just returned to school!

I visited about 8 schools in Jigawa over a week and the photos below demonstrate the horrendous situation that the education system is faced with here (and I had a feeling that they were trying to show me the best of what they had).

This is a photo of a Year 6 class from a boarding school in the main town. There were 128 children in the class. They had to sit through 2 hours and 20 minutes of lessons before they were served breakfast. One of the other Year 6 classes that we visited in this school didn’t have a teacher, so this many children were just sat alone, waiting. . . Amazingly the head teacher didn’t seem to even realise there was no teacher until I asked where they were!

This is a class of around 100 nursery and Year 1 children from a rural school. It’s no wonder that when I and 4 other Nigerians swarmed into their classroom that it began a cascade of crying. They stopped fairly promptly when shouted at by the other adults. The concrete floor the children are sat on is in such a dreadful state, but actually this is an extremely minor element of the crisis these children are facing with their education.
This PE lesson (!!!) was typical of their teaching for all lessons. Words or sentences are written on the chalkboard and the children just chant them after the teacher, followed by very long explanations. Then a child is invited to the front to read the words and the class chants after the child. Following this they copy the writing from the board into their exercise books (if they have them). From what I saw, this seems to happen for all subjects, all the time.

Although I had heard and read much about the schools it still didn’t prepare me for seeing it in the flesh. What I saw was unbelievably and incredibly heartbreaking. Nothing remotely like schools as I know them. It brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it.


  1. Dear Lucy,
    Let's hope some of your gentle ways will rub off on the people you will be teaching....Do they do singing and drumming in school?
    We are celebrating Black History month at home. I think I will show the children this blog tomorrow. They all have so much and some of the boys in my new class really do not value the education they are given...maybe this might shake them a little.
    Would you be able to facilitate a penpal arrangement?
    Lots of love

  2. Hi Jacquie,
    They don't have music in their curriculum! The teachers singing (that I saw elsewhere in Nigeria) is tuneful but it none of them sang in rhythm! I have barely seen any music or dancing anywhere except for in church!
    Not a single drum in sight!
    I did witness a poorly played brass band celebrating Nigeria's 50th year of independence accompanied by various styles of marching.
    Not sure about penpals at the moment. . . will look into it. Our office doesn't even receive post! And the children's English is very poor :0( Need to check out the postal system. You could test sending me a letter to Gida Goma, Behind Old Police Headquarters,Dutse, Jigawa State, Nigeria. Let's see what happens!

  3. Hi Lucy,
    I came across your blog while conducting a research on Jigawa State towards the International Youth Day - August 12. Our NGO, Save our Future (, is proud of what VSO is doing. Early in the year, I met some of your volunteers in Abuja; I guess they had traveled from their states for a meeting... We got talking and they opened up on some of the challenges of the schools the VSO had sent them to- most especially on ICT. I personally on behalf of Save our Future promised them that we would help in our own little through the Save our Future Computer Aid Project... We have started: We have been able to provide the two schools in Agbamu, Kwara State with fairly used computers. As I write, your Agbamu volunteers, Michael Oyejobi Adepoju and Dayo Salaudeen are training the teachers, students and willing locals on how to use computers.

    Keep up the good work.