The free holiday coaching going on in Ajegunle for students of Senior Secondary school in Anglican Primary School, located at Arumoh Street via Boundary Road is just one among the many activities of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) – a campaign platform of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) - to campaign for adequate funding especially of basic primary and secondary education.
The free coaching is an annual program that has been sustained in Ajegunle branch of the organization since its commencement in 2004 and the program has been impacting positively on the life of children of artisans, unemployed parents and the poor working people of Ajegunle.
It is an obvious fact that the usual phenomenon of hardship that characterizes the day to day life of students from poor working class background is not only peculiar to the slum city of Ajegunle in Nigeria. Students from poor backgrounds often have to engage in selling of “pure” water (sachet water), soft drinks, credit unit cards etc. on highways aside other forms of menial activities during the long holiday so as to earn a penny to sustain their families during this period which make them exposed to untimely death, casual sex, rape and other forms of social menace.
This condition of poor working class youth is not unconnected to the pro-rich capitalist system which in its blind pursuit of profit places no value on the lives and future of young people. Instead of using Nigeria’s resources to fund education adequately, all government does is looting and lip-service. As a result, education remains enmeshed in age-old crisis: overcrowded classes, absurd teacher students ratio, lack of toilet facilities and playing ground, dilapidated infrastructures as well as chronic under funding of education, lack of better teachers welfare packages. Once it rains in some schools, the next thing is compulsory holiday for the students and teachers because of leaking classroom roofs and flood.
For instance, a young student of about 9 years old came to the venue of the coaching while returning from hawking of “pure” water, asked several intelligent questions regarding the coaching class. He would only be able to join the coaching next week (week two) as, according to him, he has to earn his daily bread first! The details of the boy’s questions show genuine love to learn but the colossal failure of government at all levels to provide free, quality and compulsory education and anti-poor neo-liberal policies of the Nigeria capitalist class means the chance of this young boy and many others like him to get educated is at best precarious.
MOBILIZATION FOR THE FREE HOLIDAY LESSON
The planning and mobilization for this year’s free summer coaching has so far been successful. There has been large turn-out of students. More and more students from Apapa, Orile, Wilmer, Amukoko and other Ajegunle environs are trouping in for the lesson.
Two thousand copies of flyers were produced and circulated among the students and parents in the communities by members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) / Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and students who are contacts in their respective schools. The colourful and attractive banner displayed at the entrance of the lesson also help to draw attention of passerby parents and students to the lesson.
Early data shows average attendance per day to be 68 for SSS 1, 56 for SSS 2 and 58 for SSS 3. This makes a total of an average of 182 students per day in the first week of the commencement of the coaching since August 6th, 2012. This shows tremendous progress as it surpasses last year’s attendance by 18.95%. This is significant given the fact in the past one week many students were unable to attend the coaching class because they had to go to their respective schools to collect their examination results.
Last Friday, there was a career and counseling talk with Hassan Taiwo Soweto (ERC National Coordinator) and comrade Davinovich speaking on ‘Youth and Education’. We also had our first Volunteer Teachers’ meeting on Saturday. The teacher’s meeting is a democratic assembly of teachers and members of the DSM/ERC. It takes place every week and allows teachers to be involved in discussions on how to organize and improve the coaching.
The free holiday coaching started about eight years ago. The beauty of this year’s edition of the coaching is that four of the students who are beneficiaries of the past free summer coaching are assisting as teachers: Mr Emma, an undergraduate of mathematics in Lagos State Universities (LASU), Mr Nduka Ebube, an undergraduate student of chemistry in Imo State University (IMSU) and Mr kolawole Paul and Innocent are prospective candidates at the respective universities of their choice. Many of the past volunteer teachers are also on ground for the year’s edition of the coaching.