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Today is International Literacy Day!

The theme of this year's  celebration is "Literacy for All."

Literacy is a human right and the basis for lifelong learning. It empowers individuals, families and communities and improves their quality of life. Because of its “multiplier effect”, literacy helps eradicate poverty, reduce child mortality, curb population growth, achieve gender equality and ensure sustainable development, peace and democracy.

In today’s rapidly-changing, knowledge based societies where social and political participation takes place both physically and virtually, acquisition of basic literacy skills and the advancement and application of such skills throughout life is crucial.

Promote this day on all your social media links. Use the hashtag #ILD2014. Say something about this important day. It is our responsibility.

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What To Do As School Resumption Dates Are Postponed!

Due to the importance of the need to contain the spread of the dreaded #EbolaVirus, the federal government has moved the resumption date for all private and public schools to the 13th of October, 2014. This further extends the holiday time for all children, to an average of 3-6 weeks. The news has obviously come with mixed feelings.

Some parents are excited that they get to spend more time with their kids and do not have to begin the process of 'school runs' or just excited to be able to add more time to their holidays away from home. On the other side of the divide, is another group of people who are wondering how they would be able to manage the additionally enforced holidays effectively. It is a situation that was just unplanned for. 

One thing that all parents must do therefore is to awaken time management. Kids do get bored easily and it would be absolutely important for parents to figure out engaging activities to occupy this period of time. At this time, kids know they should have begun school and are beginning to get into the groove of learning. So, here are some tips you should try.

1. Discuss the reasons why they have to be home explaining the importance of the federal government's decision. What a great way of getting children to learn strategies of decision making on a national level!

2. Talk extensively on why this time was designed for learning and should be used for that specifically. Here, you are teaching responsibility.

3. Act like a teacher! (It doesn't seem to me that you have a choice in this time anyway). Create a time table of key concepts or topics to be practiced on a daily basis especially for subjects like Math, Language and Sciences. It could include topics learnt in the last school year that needs to be reinforced. Practice makes perfect! For those who can get into their natural born teacher instincts, this will be fun! Be careful to do this in age appropriateness by assuming some limits. Remind your child to show dedication and responsibility. 

4. Reward good behaviour always - not in monetary terms but with frequent hugs and positive comments. You could take a nice walk - a phenomena most people do not get to share with their kids in #Nigeria. Talk about climate change (google it if you need to know more about it), and identify things in the environment during your walk that could help you make up a great conversation with your child. Do this within your neighbourhood for safety.

5. Talk about their dreams! Ask them what their dreams are. No child is too young to dream. Discuss what the possibilities are in positive ways. This is a good time for you to find out a lot more about your child's interests. Ask them to write about it and when you get back from work, review it with them. For kids within the early childhood stage, they could be made to express theirs in drawing and colouring their pictures. This makes a good strategy to help them build essay writing skills. You are helping with corrections where necessary and appreciating their work all the time. 

6. Ask your kids to redecorate. It could be their room, your room or the living room. Ask them to come up with ideas of what can be done and how to go about it. If plans fall within budget for you to buy anything, go ahead and have fun with them. If not, then have them rearrange existing stuff or recreate with available materials. Remember, this is age restrictive but all kids can participate fully in their own little ways.

7. Create time for indoor sports and games too. Depending on the age group, it could be simple tasks such as asking them to try bouncing a ball 20 - 200 times, skipping with a jump rope or building castles with cardboards...yes, it's doable!

These are to mention a few. All of the above and more could make up your daily time table. Get into your creative juice! You will definitely find many more great ideas.

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Zero-Tolerance Policies Don't Make Schools Safer

I would support zero-tolerance policies in schools only if they properly serve as a deterrent to an infectious spread of misdemeanour. 

A zero-tolerance policy in schools is a policy that punishes any infraction of a rule, regardless of accidental mistakes, ignorance, or extenuating circumstances. Common zero-tolerance policies concern possession or use of illicit drugs or weapons, stealing, use of verbal and physical abuse, examination malpractice, smoking, discrimination and harassment, derogatory remarks and disrespectful gestures. 

These policies are promoted in order to prevent drug abuse and many forms of violence in schools. 

What we know for a fact is that it is equally important for those policies to be supported with effective counselling and rehabilitation programmes for affected persons.

Below is an excerpt from Mark Phillips, a teacher and education journalist (on a myth busting journey) that sheds light on zero-tolerance policies in schools. He basically busted the myth that suggests that zero tolerance policies make schools safer. It would be useful for school administrators to embrace these ideologies.

Read >>>

"This strikes me as one of the most colossally wrong-headed and destructive of the myths. Berliner and Glass describe numerous examples of this policy being implemented destructively, including one in which two students were suspended because one shared her inhaler with a friend who was having an asthma attack. Most importantly, there is no evidence that zero tolerance policies decrease school violence. To the contrary, the authors note that "suspensions and expulsions have far-reaching implications for a student's academics and can set them up for failure in their personal lives." Zero tolerance policies have resulted in school officials routing record numbers of students through the juvenile justice system, students who are then more likely to also end up in an adult prison later on. And, not surprisingly, all of the unintended effects associated with zero-tolerance policies in schools are multiplied for non-whites.

The authors also give examples of some schools that are learning from this research. As one example, after the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, teachers, parents, and administrators are focused on crisis preparedness and the politics of the gun debate, not on stricter policing of students."

It is my hope that we can all learn from history and experience. For more busted myths, click Edutopia.


The Power of Visual Aids - Don't Blame Yourself!

Please study the picture above.

It is interesting to see how beautifully this infographic displays perhaps the most important findings in modern times on how people learn and what educators should do to make learning effective. It is doable!

The statistics shown in the picture above are a strong reminder of what teachers of all ages of students should know and how visual aids can make all the difference.  

No matter what it is you teach, as a teacher or a trainer, as long as you intend to pass on learning to a group of people, the use of visual aids is a game changer. They paint a lasting picture of facts, incite creative thoughts and imprint the subject matter in practical, real life forms that can be translated. 

The results are immeasurable and certainly, outweigh those sessions or classes done without them. The learners and trainees get to achieve HIGHER GRADES/HIGHER PERFORMANCE LEVELS. So, apply this teaching methodology always!

Imagine what could have happened to your performances if you were taught using 'proper' visual aids; and today especially  for younger children - the results would have been markedly different.  

So, don't blame yourself!


School Test Scores Tell Us Very Little

A letter from a discerning BarrowFord School in United Kingdom to their pupils.

"Please find enclosed your end of KS2 test results. We are very proud of you as you demonstrated huge amounts of commitment and tried your very best during this tricky week.
However, we are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that makes each of you special and unique.
The people who create these tests and score them do not each of you -- the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do. They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day. They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school. They do not know that you have travelled to a really neat place, or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends. They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful or that you try, everyday, to be your very best... the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything. 
So enjoy your results and be very proud of these but remember there are many ways of being smart."

This underscores the limitations of the conventional testing of student's core learning abilities. It is my hope that we can learn from it. 


What can the business community do to support education?

"In business, we rarely have the luxury of making an investment decision with as much evidence as we have to support the economic value of investing in early childhood development and education... Put bluntly, in my terms, they are a financial no-brainer. The only question is 'how strong is the ROI?' The answer. Two or three or more than one."

- John Pepper, former CEO Procter & Gamble

ROI means Return On Investment

I have noticed the trend most business 
organisations follow in their corporate social responsibility agenda. I sometimes wonder if as a people, we have misled them with the notion of what our collective interests are. It seems to me that many people undermine the need for us to drive change in the education sector by our very limited advocacy. It is time for us to up this discussion by seeking support from the corporate world for the right courses.

Business leaders can take various steps to help children access quality education. 

1. Support access to quality early childhood education through secondary education in their communities and states by sponsoring a child or donating teaching aids,  classroom materials and building standard science and art laboratories. 

2. Support programmes to train pre-kindergarten and elementary grade teachers in math and science to encourage inventions and innovations.

3. Offer employees information on engaging their children in fun activities for basic school subjects.
Provide portable early care centers for employees within their premises.

4. Provide expertise, volunteers and  resources to local schools to help develop play-based, hands on science, technology engineering and math (STEM) programs. 

They may even support radio and TV shows that advocate all of the above and more. We know for certain that investing in quality early childhood education programmes in Nigeria not only ensures that all children have access to quality education, but has long term economic benefits for the nation.

"By age 5, it is possible to predict, with depressing accuracy who will complete high school and college and who won't."

- David Brooks, Columnist
New York Times

More from www.readynation.org


Bursting Education Myths - Myth 2: Homework Boosts Achievement

There is no evidence that this is true. In Finland, students have higher achievement with little or no homework and shorter school hours. The more important factor is what students experience during the school day. Project-based learning, as one example, places the emphasis on what is done during the day. If students choose to do more after hours, that's their choice. There also may sometimes be other good reasons to assign homework, but there should be no illusion that homework will help increase student achievement.

The Learning Craft: We know that any classroom that is full of engaging activities would encourage lifelong love for learning. The experiences given or shared within the environment of the teaching - learning process is usually a 'clincher'. Students take more from this sort of classroom experience than most other places. 
Homework should given when the teacher deems it necessary as the case may be OR given as a project. The type and duration of homework should be done according to age  group and most importantly the students should do it themselves. 

  • Note to teachers: You know when that homework is not done by the child, insist they repeat it and do it by themselves.

  • Note to parents: Homework is given so that you can help your child if the need arises, please resist the eagerness to do your child's homework  for them.  You do more harm than good. 


The Joys and Benefits of Cursive Handwriting - Cynthia Dagnal-Myron

As a writer and former English teacher I sensed this. But now, science agrees with me.

Yes, it's official. The New York Times says we learn more and express ourselves better when we write long hand.

In her article entitled What's Lost as Handwriting Fades, science writer Maria Konnikova summed it up this way:

"Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it's not just what we write that matters -- but how."

How do we know for sure?

Dr. Karen James, a psychologist at Indiana University featured in the New York Times article, used a scanner to observe brain activity in children as they wrote, traced and typed.

She discovered that free hand writing lights up three areas of the brain -- the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex. When we type or trace letters, there is much less activity.

Virginia Berninger, a psychologist at the University of Washington, offered even more insights in the article. Her studies proved that children who wrote compositions in cursive generated more words and ideas than children who typed. In fact, children writing in cursive generated more words and ideas than children who printed their compositions long hand as well.

While this may be news to many educators and parents, many of us who write professionally -- or just for the love of it -- have suspected all this for a very long time. Though now forced to do a great deal of our writing with computers, many of us discovered our love for words by writing long hand.

I call it the "John Boy syndrome," that yearning to curl up with an old fashioned writing tablet, a ballpoint pen or even that old No. 2 pencil to write to your heart's content. As I writer, I can literally "feel" the difference between the writing I do "by hand" and writing I do strictly via computer.

So can some agents and editors. In fact, I've begun to see submission guidelines from both that suggest writers try writing long hand more often. A trend? No.

There are far more agents and editors who will only accept electronic submissions. And very few writers have the time or desire to type or dictate that hand written tome into a digital version.

But I've taken to printing out my fiction and writing the corrections and any idle thoughts that bubble up in the process in cursive. That one extra step seems to unlock a door somewhere -- ideas flow. And I return to the keyboard rejuvenated -- I can't type fast enough.

As an old school English teacher, I even had my students copy notes from the board in cursive. I found that they retained more of what they wrote that way. And they were usually able to write with more confidence and complexity than peers who composed by computer alone.

Yet, cursive writing isn't even part of the Common Core after first grade. And I meet more and more young people who know nothing about it -- they don't even have a cursive signature.

Do they need one? Probably not. It's a digital age.

But now we know exactly what they're missing. And why it matters.

So go get your John Boy on. Write something, or to someone, long hand. And feel those doors open.

The Learning Craft : I have always known this to be a fact. See our previous post on this topic here.


Bursting Education Myths : Myth1 Teachers are the Most Important Influence

It has become very important for educators around the world to tell truths concerning the effectiveness of our education. We are on a mission to bust some education myths most people have believed for too long. Thanks to the increasing research in the field, educators around the world are discovering truths that are scientifically proven about education. 

These widely-shared myths and/or lies about education are destructive for all of us and destructive for our educational institutions. So destructive that they have potentially misdirected our energies as parents, teachers, caregivers and administrators away from adopting best practices in our homes and schools. 

Written by Mark Phillips of Edutopia, I begin with the most popular one.

Myth #1: Teachers are the Most Important Influence on a Child’s Education

Of course teachers are extremely important. Good teachers make a significant difference in achievement. But research indicates that less than 30 percent of a student's academic success is attributable to schools and teachers. The most significant variable is socioeconomic status, followed by the neighborhood, the psychological quality of the home environment, and the support of physical health provided. There are others, but the bottom line is that teachers have far less power to improve student achievement than do varied outside factors.

Yes, teachers can only do so much as stated. There are quite a number of caregivers who disagree with this fact; but the truth is that the above mentioned factors supercede the influence of teachers. Over many years of experience, teachers know this to be a fact. You could ask any teacher you know.


Save the Date: Day of the African Child

The world is standing in support of our children's  safe stay in schools on the 16th of June 2014. Programs will be held and you are invited to lend your voice to Children's rights to a quality, safe, free and compulsory education.

 What are you doing this month? If your answer includes "taking a stand so that children around the world can have safe access to education," that's great. If not, there's still time to act.

Thousands of young people are mobilising - from Malawi to Macedonia, Burundi to Bangladesh, Lagos to London and from the US to the UAE -  to host events throughout June. 

You can stand in solidarity with the abducted girls from Nigeria and advocate for safe schools and the right of every girl and boy to go to school.

Here's how:
Attend the event on 16 June, 2014 - Day of the African Child at The National Stadium Surulere Lagos organised by the African Child's Rights group.  Time: 2pm - 3:30pm

I will be among a group of panelists speaking on the Possibilities and Opportunities of a qualitative, free and Compulsory Inclusive Education in Nigeria.

Keep a date with us as we speak in one voice for our Children's rights. 


Happy Children's Day

Even though this is hard to say easily because we should be flying our flags at a half mast in honour of the abducted girls, we still celebrate our children today here at The Learning Craft.

Children have rights!

Right to qualitative education.
Right to access to good health.
Right to play.
Right to explore and discover their environment.
Right to good nutrition.
Right to be loved....

As we celebrate the children of Nigeria today, let us be mindful to give access to that child within our environment any of the above mentioned rights.

Give them an opportunity to thrive not survive.



Thinking About the Girls

 At the heart of any education planner's job is one of the most important aspects of the school environment - safety. It is the provision of a safe environment where children can learn, have fun and  feel ownership. It is usually an environment that should provide opportunities for children to act as agents of change for sustainability and finally become future guardians of the world they live in. Every child's unique qualities and interests therefore is used as the background strategy for the program. 

I think about my days in one of the Federal government secondary schools in Northern Nigeria over a decade ago. I remember our long trips to and from Lagos to school and how we looked forward to those trips in our parent-organised school buses. We caught up on our holiday activities, chatted away happily and sang songs to while away time. We had so many activities inside the bus, some of us could not easily  fall asleep in the over 8-hour journey. The buses we rode in broke down along the way many times such that we sometimes found ourselves in remote towns or villages  at night time for many hours until they were fixed. Passengers were ONLY GIRLS with 2 males - (a driver and an assistant). 

I must say that we were unduly lucky. Anything, just about anything could have happened to us! We sometimes got to school very late at night  or at the wee hours of the next day to our hostels with mixed feelings of sadness and joy. 

Fortunately, and I mean that in every sense of the word, Nigeria had not began experiencing the sensitive issues of terrorism we are going through these days; but these were issues that were certain to arise considering the manner in which national issues were handled. 

We were really lucky those days! There were many unrecorded cases of violence on children as still is today. In the face of multiple challenges, the pulse of the problems is usually felt by ordinary citizens who are searching for a basic living wage. 'Safety' raises her head.

Our hostels were sometimes raided by what we called 'a strange man' or 'strange men' as each case was. Men, who in hindsight, I  now understand to be nomads. Men who easily walked through our school's compound at night time during their long journeys. In their sojourn, they passed through our schools  and into our hostels because our school borders were not adequately protected. Those were very scary times I hate to recall!

Moving forward into today's times, I'm deeply disturbed by the abduction of girls from a government secondary school in Chibok almost 2 months ago. Those girls are just like you and I who passed through our public girls-only secondary schools some years ago! The tide and times have changed in terms of governance and we are yet to adjust  our systems to protect young children from the harrowing situations that have arisen. 

Our public schools are largely unprotected today even after many decades. Safety is a vital part of the school curriculum as is Math, the Sciences or Language. School safety is embedded in the day-to-day administration of any school. 

Our teachers are not fully equipped to teach students efficiently and are certainly not equipped to groom the kind of global citizen who should ultimately become Nigeria's future leaders...and yet, we do not have teachers! The teacher to potential student ratio stands at 1:10,000. There is a lot of 'citizen sensitization' to be done in promotion of the need for teachers. 

School Safety! An issue that had been largely swept under the rug at the helm of affairs; but has managed to raise its head due to the current wave of religious and cultural issues; albeit in such atrocious manner. 

It is my hope that as we collectively raise our voices for the safe return of our missing girls, that we charge forward the other pertinent issues that challenge our system of education as a whole. It is something we must do if we are ever going to see Nigeria change for the better. A qualitative system of education is the one key that could unlock Nigeria from these dragging distress. 

My heart is troubled. I cannot begin to  fathom the varying levels of physical and mental torture our abducted daughters may be going through. 


Moments at Puerto Rico

Just got back from the World Forum on Early Care and Education in San Juan Puerto Rico. It was exciting, educating and we were a family of like minds...simply beautiful!

I learnt from the World Forum that at the heart of all situations, people around the globe share common issues in different measures. We may control them differently because of our various systems of governance but the core of our issues are alike. 

I will share these commonalities and differences in time to come as there is a wealth of knowledge to gain from them. 

Here are some moments at the conference.

 Huge support from delegates around the world. 
More support

International Dance Night

With founder Roger Neugebauer

Art works of children around the world. 

Closing ceremony with colleagues who are now friends for life.

Yes! We share this space.


My Journey to Puerto Rico

I am counting down to the World Forum on Early Care and Education taking place at San Juan Puerto Rico from the 6th - 9th of May 2014. One of the things I would be doing there as part of the 'Special Needs' Working Group is presenting in a panel discussion on the topic 'Inclusion Practices Around the World - The Nigerian Story' amongst many other experiences.

As I researched on this topic, I realised  how deep our misapprehensions are concerning 'Special Needs' and Inclusive Education in Nigeria. We certainly are in need of community/media advocacy on this issue. There are far too many children in need of this system of education whose lives could be touched just by us beginning to practice a comprehensive Inclusive system of education.

To date, Early Childhood Education  is not being provided by the government throughout the country - an education policy reform that must be looked into. It is the one important sector of any Education system that feeds the foundation for successful schooling for the average child.

What is Inclusive Education? Inclusive Education is sometimes intertwined with 'Integration' which is the mainstreaming and/or incorporation of students with special needs ( blindness, deafness, autism, dyslexia, sickle cell anaemia, polio, and all other mental and physical challenges) in regular schools. Inclusive Education is also the type of schooling that facilitates personalized learning opportunities for all students. It is the kind of practice that adapts frameworks to various excluded groups (especially rural populations, girls, and students with special needs). It also views 'languages' as a factor related to the lack of access to education.

San Juan, Puerto Rico comes alive with Early Care and Education professionals from all over the world. It promises to be 'edutaining' and I will be sharing my learning experiences, sights and sounds with you in the coming weeks. 


Haunted by the Red Ink

I remember opening my books as a young child, waiting anxiously to see how well I had performed in my classwork or tests. Often the anxiety resulted in 'favorable outcomes' but there were moments that didn't turn out so well- These moments haunted me for a very long time well past those daunting years. Those dreaded moments were the sight of 'The Red Ink'. Dreaded and despised by many-a-pupil in my time.

The Red Ink
The red ink signifies teachers' written remarks. Back then, it was an indication that there was something wrong with one's work. If it wasn't a tick in a copy book or written with blue or black coloured pen on a report card, it often indicated a problem. A problem that was usually written in RED COLOURED PEN. 
It didn't come as a surprise when I became a teacher many years later, that I loathed using the 'red pen' in grading students' work. I mostly choose a blue pen or bright and legible coloured pens that were more friendly to the eyes. I soon discovered that it was never really about the colour of the pen, but the remarks that came along with it, which was either discouraging or downright disheartening.

 Rita F. Pierson once graded a student who scored 2 out of 20, with a '+2' and a big smile. "Is this an F?", the student asked. Yes, she replied. "Why did you put a smiley face?", he asks again. "Because you're on the roll, you got 2 right, you didn't miss them all" she replied. She went farther to ask him if he would do better after revision to which he answered a big YES! (Seems strange from a teacher right?)
It isn't out of fact, that the kid  in question had performed way below average, but it was Rita's hope to inspire this child to do better which turned out to be the case and frankly a lot easier.

Teachers’ comments on students’ work should be made to help them understand the strengths and weaknesses of their work, and to make clear how their work has or has not achieved the goals and standards set in the class. It is not to suppress the feelings (or the creative mind) of the student but to serve as a remedial process. A process that should guide students to be interested in finding solutions to mistakes and/or improving on their specific skills. It should even build relationships between the learner and teacher.

Todays teachers should champion the course of guiding the future of the students. Their remarks could either inspire or discourage a learner's spirit. The spirit of inquiry and discovery continues to be the driving force of the world's socio-economic advancements and teachers play a pivotal role in the entire process. 

All Learning is understanding relationships - George Washington Carver

I believe that a good student-teacher relationship has crucial, positive and long-lasting implications for students' academic and social development. Students learn better when they have good relationships with their teachers......teachers they like.

See teachers tips for writing good remarks here.


In Pictures: Global Money Week - Financial Literacy for Children and Youth

The celebration of Global Money Week takes place every year during the second week of March. This initiative is coordinated by the Child and Youth Finance International Secretariat and in conjunction with 'AJAPA WORLD' group in Nigeria.

Here are the line of events marking the celebration.


10th March - 17th
9am - 10am: Press Conference at SIAO
11am - 1pm: Money March from Freedom Park to Marina with public schools

10am – 11am: Visit to Banks
 1pm - 2:30pm: Visit to School

9am -11am: Visit to Supermarket and Panel takes place at Ajapaworld Studio

8am - 9:30am: Visit to School - Corona
12pm - 1:30pm: Visit to School - Edidot 2:30pm - 3:30pm: Visit to School - Dowen College

TBD: Monopoly Tournament at School

2pm- 2:30pm: Radio discussion about children and money

All Day: Pledge Balloons all over Nigeria (Social media campaign)

Rhoda, Akin and Jimi
Akin Braithwaite of Ajapa World
The celebrations of 2014 will take place between 10 March and 17 March 2014. During this week various worldwide activities will be held to engage children, youth and their communities to learn how money works, including saving, creating livelihoods, gaining employment, and becoming an entrepreneur. The week brings the world one step closer to ensuring that every child will have access to financial services, financial awareness through education, a reliable source of income, and the the understanding of the need to save. Aiding the next generation to be confident, responsible and skilled economic citizens. Every year, during the second week of March, young people around the globe talk, play, create, sing, read, discuss and learn about saving, money, changing economic systems and building a strong financial base.


Infographic: Why female education is absolutely necessary!

United Nations Global Monitoring Report

World Women's Day 2014

Yes, it is our day! The world will be celebrating women and girls today. Issues to be discussed will include gender gaps in education and labour. 

Be a part of this day by promoting the discourse.


Celebrate International Women's Day 2014

The International Women's Day 2014 will be celebrated on the 8th of March ( 2 days away). Women and men around the world will be participating in activities that would raise issues in advancement of women and girls courses.

One of the main issues to be raised will be the education of the girl child. At least one in five adolescent girls around the world is denied an education by the daily realities of poverty, conflict and discrimination. Missing out on school can mark the end of a girl having any choice over her own future. 

Please join in this celebration. Support the education of girls in any measure you can. Here are some ideas on what to do. Make it simple.
Discuss with your friends and colleagues on its relevance. Talk about ways you can help. You may organise a bake sale and give proceeds to a girl around your neighbourhood or community in support of their education. Organise group meetings to seek support for consistency and most importantly, keep the message alive by spreading the word.


LOVE! Happy Valentine's Day!

It is a known fact that St. Valentine's Day is on the 14th of February every year and the theme of this celebration centers on 'love'. Luckily, it's a few days before my birthday and so I get to receive gifts early, feeling loved even more so at this season of sharing love.           
Many are of the opinion that Valentine's Day is just another day that should not be given any more accolades than necessary because love should be celebrated daily. I do agree with the position that we should endeavour to make the expression of love a lifestyle ritual. However,  I understand that human beings have always done better with a bit of reminders.
I believe that the celebration of love on this special day is more of an advantage than disadvantage to the world especially among families, friendships and humanitarian causes.                    
What bigger reason could there be than for the world to be unified for any cause other than the giving of love.
'Love', a phenomena that captures hearts beyond biases, sentiments, religions, customs and beliefs. Read a brief history of St. Valentine's Day here.  

Today, share and give love. Educators around the world are united on reaching one goal - which is to instill in students the love for lifelong learning. We equally understand that learning could not be permanent if it excluded sharing love.

How to share  Love.
Consider using a time when the whole family is together to share why you love one another. Give each member of your family the opportunity to share a few reasons why they love each member of the family. This makes for great conversation at the dinner table!

Hug often. The old saying that "actions speak louder than words" could not be truer when it comes to showing love and affection. Fortunately, there are endless ways we, as parents, relatives and caregivers show our love every day. In the process, we are strengthening the bond we have with children and promoting their sense of self and confidence.

Help a child through school. Find a kid in your neighbourhood whose life you could change. Support their education in any measure you can. You would be contributing to reducing the number of over 10 million out-of-school children in Nigeria.

So give love... 


Revealing The Global Learning Crisis

At least 250 million of the world's 650 million primary school age children are unable to read, write or do basic mathematics, according to a report commissioned by the U.N. education agency.
The report found that 130 million are in primary school but have not achieved the minimum benchmarks for learning, and almost 120 million have spent little or no time in a classroom including 57 million youngsters who are not attending school.
The independent research team that wrote the report for UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, calculated that the cost of 250 million children around the world not learning translates to a loss for governments of around $129 billion annually.
UNESCO's U.N. representative Vibeke Jensen said this global "learning crisis" is mainly caused by a lack of well-trained teachers, especially in impoverished areas.
"While more children are in school, it's been at the cost of quality," she said at a news conference launching the report. "The issue now is to put the focus on quality."
In a third of countries analyzed by the team, less than 75 percent of the primary school teachers had been trained to meet national standards.
"Teachers have the future of this generation in their hands," UNESCO's Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement. "We need 5.2 million teachers to be recruited by 2015, and we need to work harder to support them in providing children with their right to a universal, free and quality education."
The report said that ensuring an equal, quality education can increase a country's gross domestic product per capita by 23 percent over 40 years.
Interesting stats! I wrote about the need for more teachers during the 2013 World's Teacher's Day. See post here

One thing we can do as concerned stakeholders is to get active about getting kids into school and talking about their education with any chance we get in any local community forum. 
We can also get involved, and play our own role in whatever measure by contributing and or supporting public primary education initiatives and programmes. There is strength in talking about these issues in every relevant (even any) forum and opportunity we get. This builds up the momentum that (combined with our ideas and suggestions already lurking), will add vent to the collective clamoring for the refurbishment, modernization and ultimate reformation of our Teacher Colleges. Our country will progressively advance, as we educate the minds and enable the spirits of our people. Poverty and illiteracy will be reduced with a better education system. From the UN report above, it is clear that the Economies are directly affected by education- it impedes Gross Domestic Product output. 

Encourage a Teacher, Train a Teacher, Support Teacher Education!


What Our Math Teachers Didn't Do For Us

I don't!
I was preparing for an exam at work and a colleague looked into the book I was reading. She asked if I could work out all the statistical calculations I was looking at. I laughed quite hard and answered with an emphatic 'Yes' to her question to which she replied, "I truly do not know what I did in Math throughout my High School days because that subject was always alien to me! MY BEST FRIEND AND I HAD NO CLUE! I HATED MY MATH TEACHERS!" 

I have noticed among many circles that there is a general phobia for Mathematics. This phobia by the way is called Arithmophobia. Even though I escaped it (the phobia) for many reasons which include the fact that I always thought Math was easier than the rest; I now understand the reasons why most of us in our adolescence ticked off the 'dreaded Math'. OUR TEACHERS DID THIS TO US.

The teachers are not to be blamed entirely because most of them were not properly trained to gain the skill of using the best approaches to deliver enjoyable Math lessons to students. Many of them stumbled into the profession as a means of livelihood. The structure of the education system did not give room for innovation and new ideas among many other reasons.
However, a good teacher's reaction to a student who is struggling with Math should never be synonymous to those of SOME of 'our' Math teachers back in the days. I know a Math teacher who once declared in class that Math was meant for only genuises!! Some of their methods contributed largely in students 'hating' the subject even at benchmark examination periods.

I don't think so!
Lisa Medoff, a teacher in human biology and the School of Education at Stanford University, shares these insights from her article “Getting Beyond ‘I Hate Math!’” in the September 2013 issue of Educational Leadership about teaching to adolescent students. 

It’s incredibly important that educators incorporate adolescents’ needs for Autonomy, Belonging, and Competence into many aspects of school, from classroom structure to curriculum and assignments. These needs are not unique to adolescents, but they become particularly salient with the physical, social, and cognitive changes teens go through during this time. It’s very important that math teachers keep these three needs in mind; adolescents often use their performance in math to judge their intelligence and ability to succeed in school.

As adolescents pursue Autonomy, they begin to separate from and question adults. They may ask why they need to take math and when they’ll use what they are learning. Take students’ questions seriously. Explore them while guiding students to ask questions politely. Offer students a choice of assignments when possible, such as allowing them to do the regular textbook homework set, write an explanation of how to do the problems, or post a video of themselves explaining a concept.

Belonging to a group is comforting for all of us, but is especially important for adolescents, who are solidifying their identities and feel unsure of themselves. As long as teens can do so productively, let them do some classwork in friendship groups. Assign homework or tests that allow kids to work together. Hands-on math activities that give each group member a specific role boost both learning and sense of belonging and reduce the anxiety often associated with demonstrating a math problem in front of an entire class. Make sure each individual student feels she or he is a vital part of the classroom who would be missed if absent. Help students use math to do service projects for the community so they feel they have an important contribution to make.

Competence is definitely something many adolescents don’t feel, especially in math. Seek out activities and assessments that expand beyond traditional textbook problems and tests, such as projects where students can continue to work on and improve their skills, rather than compete against others for test scores. When tests are necessary, emphasize mastery over grades, allow for test corrections or retakes, and use math content to help students improve study skills and figure out how they learn best.

Math teachers must give love so as to get love in return. It makes the entire learning process easier for the teacher and student. So, if you know any Math teachers out there, give them these tips to remind them of how adolescents will embrace Math. 
We were all born to do Math! So says our natural instincts!