Lagos — Building a community school is certainly not unusual, but for the inhabitants of Adeba, a Lagos community on the island of Lekki, it's a whole story of success. They somehow have a compelling story to relate.
Despite its close proximity to the exotic axis of Lekki, the new Lagos haven, Adeba, a rustic community of about 8,000 people in Ibeju-Lekki local government area of Lagos state still lacks the opulence of its wealthy neighbours. Though, Adeba has many unpleasant stories that define its existence, especially lack of basic infrastructures, yet nothing captures it better than the community's poor education history.
Adeba's education trajectory is one stuffed with sorrows and tears. Prior to the emergence of a community primary school in the area, not a few children of Adeba who chose to acquire education from neighbouring villages and towns have had their lives cut short in ghastly auto-accidents while attempting to cross the ever-busy Lekki-Epe express road.
"At a time, we lost count on the number of fatal auto-accidents to which our children were losing their lives. Because we had no school in Adeba, our children who were desirous of acquiring western education were forced to embark on six kilometer journey to communities such as Lakoe, Gbogije and Awoyaya on daily basis. But whenever it came to crossing the Lekki/Epe express way, many of the drivers who often engages in neck-breaking speeds have had to crush the school children. We lost a number of school pupils in those incidences," Hassan Busari, a 78 year-old elder of Adeba community lamented.
Such pathetic recurrences were enough to spur Busari and other community leaders into action. The septuagenarian said in their quest to put a stop to the tragic incidences, the community resorted to self-help, putting in place make-shift tents that eventually served its children as a school of their own. Made of bamboos planks and thatched roofs, the make-shift tents were said to have been built into four classes and were being occupied by 80 pupils at inception.
The pupils were being tutored by three community-hired teachers who were receiving N5, 000 as monthly salaries. Though meagre, the teachers were said to be most willing in offering hands of fellowship.
"The school was established in 2004, I came in as a National Diploma (Accountancy) certificate holder in 2007. I was told that the community took up the challenge because of the incessant auto-accidents that used to claim the lives of many pupils around here. My colleagues and I were quite eager to assist. Though the sum of N5, 000 I was receiving at the time was small, yet the community members did complement it with food stuff and that was how my family and I managed to survive," Saliu Nurudeen, a school teacher at Adeba primary school said.
The communal efforts, though commendable, yet has its prices. For a school not properly established and was ill-equipped with basic amenities, one of the teething problems that confronted it was the incessant invasion of its territory by wild animals.
"At the early stage, we had quite a number of nasty experiences when dangerous animals like monkeys, snakes, among others did invade the school premises and scared the children away. This was made easier for them as we had no water system and no toilet facilities. The children, while trying to defecate often ent to the bush and dug holes. There were recorded cases of snake bites in those circumstances," Busari said.
In an attempt to confront barrage of challenges facing their pet project, Adeba community elders decided to attract government attention both at state and local government levels. That effort didn't yield much result at the initial stage. But somehow in 2005, some community members got introduced to Educational Co-operation Society (ECS), a Non Governmental Organisation that has a history of school development programmes at community level.
Together with Adeba community members, ECS intensified the "save-our-soul" campaigns on the State Universal Basic Education and the Ibeju Lekki Local Government Authority while at the same time, committing own-funds to the project.
Explaining its organisation's involvement in Adeba Community Primary School project, ECS' General Manager, Emmanuel Ihenacho said when the NGO was approached by Adeba community leaders in 2005, there was an urgent need to remedy the precarious situation under which school pupils were studying at the time.
"After some community elders made persistent calls to ECS between 2004/2005, we became compelled to help in salvaging the poor learning environment their children were studying at the time. We responded in two ways. First, the community members were encouraged to do their bit within their capacity, before any external support would be given. They were encouraged to reach out further to their Local Government Educational Authority and plead persuasively for their children.
"Secondly, and as a follow up to the advocacy process, ECS committed it's-funds, and searched for partners that might also be interested in funding a more comprehensive community development project. The intensity of that campaign led to eventual intervention by Ibeju Lekki Local Government, Council" Ihenacho said.
However, the local government intervention did not materialise until 2008; four years after the community school had operated under bamboo shades. The then council chairman, Bayo Balogun was said to have been impressed by the communal efforts and was quick to award the contract for the construction of a block of six classrooms for the school.
According to Lambert Ibe, a resident of Adeba and a member of the Parents Teachers Association, the completion of the six modern classrooms has seen to the sudden rise in the number of pupils now attending Adeba primary school to acquire basic education. He noted that though a welcome development, the classrooms are becoming over crowded.
Perhaps it was in response to the over-crowding challenge that ECS went in pursuit of more donor agencies. It found one in Diputacion Bizkaia, a Spanish Local Government council in the Bask region of Spain. The local council then extended hands of fellowship to local communities in dire need of assistance in other parts of the world. Diputacion Bizkaia helped Adeba Community in constructing additional two classrooms for Nursery and Kindergarten pupils just as it put in place, offices and toilet facilities.
"An immediate outcome from the intervention was a marginal rise in pupils' population especially at the Nursery/Kindergarten by 33 percent within the 2011/2012 academic session with a near-complete obliteration disparity in gender," Ihenacho said.
The ECS General Manager said having assisted Adeba community school with infrastructural facilities, improved hygiene and conducive environment, the NGO has gone a step further train to teachers.
These periodic training has been designed to make teachers competent on civic and environmental curricula. According to Ihenacho, when teachers are trained well, they will be better equipped to teach.
Interestingly, the NGO training session is also being extended to the parents who are regarded as primary educators at homes. The parent civic training exercise is meant to complement teachers' efforts in school. Aside that, the ECS coordinator said the training is meant to develop and nurture good communal living.