Dr. Adefunke Ekine is committed to fostering a passion for advocacy among Nigeria’s future teachers. As a member of Women Thrive’s Global Partnership Network, she advocates with us to ensure that all children have access to quality education.
Students activists at Tai Solarin University of Education
At Tai Solarin University of Education in Nigeria, where I am a lecturer, I’ve recently begun teaching a new class on ‘The Nigerian Child’. The class’s first students, all 185 of them studying childhood education, were new to the university and most had little or no background on the topic, aside from once being Nigerian children themselves.
Because these students are future teachers, I felt that they needed to be aware of the context in which children learn and of global issues surrounding children’s rights. The course explored how children are affected by socio-economics and culture in Nigeria. We examined topics including child labor, child trafficking, and girls’ education; and I tried to teach some advocacy lessons too.
For most of the students, they were thinking about these issues in a totally new way for the first time. They were motivated to learn more about the challenges girls face in getting an education, especially in the wake of the more than 200 girls from northern Nigeria who were kidnapped by militants in April. Since we are based in southwest Nigeria, the recent abduction of the girls seemed strange to the students, but it was a monumental moment for them and many now want to become advocates for girls’ education.
Educating girls in Nigeria has now become bigger than just a national issue--it’s gone global. Thanks to social media, news media, civil society organizations, individuals, religious groups and others, more people than ever know about the challenges girls face in Chibok and elsewhere just because they want to go to school.
For once, the whole nation is clamoring for girls to be able to freely pursue their education.
My students are eager to further this goal by sensitizing the community, especially market women, on the importance of education for girls. Right now, the class is planning to do a mass rally on October 11th to mark the International Day of the Girl Child. I intend to make it a yearly event for students in my class.
By being a voice for the Chibok girls and all of those who are denied their right to education, these future teachers can ensure that changes happen so all children can have an education.
It is so important for future teachers to understand the challenges that children face in accessing a quality education, so that they can be sensitive to the needs of the marginalized. I am proud that these students are motivated to be advocates for girls’ education, and will share that passion with their own students. My hope is that others will join them in calling for equal access to quality education for all children.