Learning: A key that opens the door of Information and shuts the prison of Ignorance

By Nicholas Omoh. Nicholas is a social entrepreneur from Lagos, Nigeria. Please read his entry and leave your thoughts and comments below.

I and my colleague have been teachers for five years before we decided to leave the teaching profession for a higher calling.We promised ourselves that we must do something different to really impact children and young people. We decided to embark on a project to help children and young people discover themselves under our Innovative Mindset Initiative(IMI) platform  www.imi17.com. We had to first identify our target audience and what we wanted to offer them that will benefit them for generations.

For us getting through a school door is not just getting inside the four corners of a room, it is not just sitting on a bench and listening to a teacher standing in front of you, it is not only about  numerical, verbal assignments and home work, it’s not only certifications. It is more about skills,talents, and values that can be harnessed by children and young people to keep them out of the prison. Prison goes beyond been locked up in a four cornered room where your freedom is denied. It is more about ignorance,  abject poverty, just existing, no future ambition, nothing to bring home to your family ,nation or generation.

I have consistently passed the third mainland bridge in Lagos Nigeria on several occasions  in the last  ten years and from  the bridge I would observe there is a community that is built on water. Recently I had to ask the name of that community and I was told by friends that it is called Makoko community, a community accessible only by boats, in these cases locally made wooden boats. Houses  are built by woods on water. Everything happens on water,buying and selling,is on  moving  wooden boats ,available schools is on water and a far cry from what is obtainable on land.Hospital built by wood on water  without no medical personnel or facilities .

I did some research about the community online to know what the community is all about but not satisfied I decided to pay the community a visit to get a first hand knowledge of the people.I was more interested with knowing the challenges, dreams and realities of these young people who are part of the future of Nigeria.

I got in touch with one of the teachers in a school in Makoko community who was my guide to the community. I saw how the people survived. Fathers are predominantly fishermen and  mothers are predominantly fish sellers ;they are the ones that treat the fish and sell it.Children are the ones that do the hawking and all these happens on water.Children  barely go to school because there are not enough make shift schools around in the community  and  financial constraints makes it almost imposible for parents to send their children to schools on the mainland.

These people live in a world of their own where neglect and isolation is what they live on. I met some of the children to hear how they feel about the situation in their community.

I met James, a twelve year old boy who was hawking tomatoes at school hours. He would have  loved to be in school but had to help his parents make money for survival. James told me he wants to be able to build a house for his parents with much comfort. I told him that going to school is a first step in realizing his dream. I told him that he could be the one to design the house if he goes to school and train as an architect or build it himself if he trains to become a civil engineer or he can afford to pay both the architect and engineer to design and build for him.

If Young James grows up without been armed with the skills and training he needs to fulfil that dream of building a new home for his parents. He may decide to arm himself with guns and wrong associations which will lead  to stealing  to fulfil his dreams or terminate the dreams of others by murder or fraud.Helping James to find his path  is  one way of opening a school door and closing a prison.

I  met Jenifer, a sixteen year old girl  going to a senior secondary school. I asked her about my observation of young girls at her age with babies in her community, and she told me many of the parents here believe that it is useless to train a female because they will end up becoming a man’s property, so they do not train them and many of them are misled where they end up getting pregnant as teenagers and are abandoned. Jenifer goes to school because an NGO is sponsoring her and she wants to be a journalist that will tell the stories of communities like hers in Nigeria and other parts of the world. She called for NGOs to do more in creating awareness of female education in her community. Unlike James, Jenifer is still going to school. There is hope for her, but there are many young girls I see around  who will be teenagers soon in the community that might not be as fortunate as Jenifer.If the door to the school of life is not open to them through awareness of the relevance of education. A prison where low  infant and maternal health will  be on the rise, endless circle of prostitution,women inferior complexes will be open.

I  also met Solomon, a 19 year old boy  and a good swimmer,but he  did not complete his high school because he felt the things being taught were too abstract and lack the practicality of what his dream really is. He wants to be a Navy man or a captain of a ship.He believes this is a difficult  dream because  his parents are not highly placed  to help him fulfill his dream. I was able to make him understand  that there are some maritime schools  in Nigeria  that can train  him to drive a ship or repair one, but he has to get his high school certificate.I also told him that before he  gets admission to the Nigerian  defence academy  where he can train as a Navy man   he needs his  high school certificate. I told him that the first step in getting closer to  his dream  is for him  to go finish high school and obtain his  certificate and his background should not  be the yardstick for his back to be on the ground.

Many young people like Solomon are not well informed as a result they close the door of  knowledge by themselves and open a prison called ignorance where they waste their time, energy and life in progressing in error.

My experience with these children of different ages  in Makoko community has made me realise that  individuals, business people, NGOs, government must come together to keep wide open school doors in order to permanently shut the prison.

19 comments on “Learning: A key that opens the door of Information and shuts the prison of Ignorance

  1. Emmanuel Ogamodey on

    Wow!! Great and well articulated article. I love your concern for improving lifes. People need to fight their ignorance and discover themselves.👏👏👏👏👏

    • Nicholas on

      Very true Emmanuel.What has kept Nigeria and the African continent from reaching their full potential is their ignorance i.e lack of information. This has open many prisons…poverty,bad governance,violence etc.

  2. Charles on

    Great article. Education is our right and we need it to have a better life. Your life and beauty cannot be complete without education. Nice one uncle Nick. We need more of this kind of piece.

  3. Gift on

    Nice writeup.YES education empowers and also set up young ones for success making them have access to different opportunities round the world.

  4. Donald on

    Kudos bros great writeup,
    It also teaches people important life values, and it opens their mind to a lot of interesting aspects of life

  5. Precious on

    Good job man.
    Not every body can Afford private schools,government should provide enough owned primary and secondary school for each community.

  6. Joshua on

    Great pieace Nicolas. It’s a collective responsibility to free Africa and Nigeria in particular from the darkness caused by being ignorant.

  7. Kim Jones on

    This blog post beautifully emphasizes the power of adult learning in breaking barriers and expanding horizons. The author’s insights are thought-provoking and eloquent. A must-read for those passionate about lifelong education. Exceptional work!


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