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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ishahayi Beach School

Yesterday, I went out on a trip to check on the Ishahayi Beach School at Ishahayi Beach. I am a member of the non-profit organization who aids this school. We raise money through the selling of the book, Nigerian Gems, to help purchase supplies, fuel for the generator ( this school is not hooked up to regular electricity.), etc. Lady Salami is the head teacher at the school. She is a missionary who started a school in this Yoruba fishing village. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes by boat to get to this village ( there are no roads to access it). She has worked very hard to provide an education for the children in this village. She gets on her boat everyday and picks up children who live in nearby villages as well to bring them to school at Ishahayi beach. ( The beach foundation is helping to supply life jackets to the school. The children were riding on the boat without life jackets.) This is my second trip out to the beach school to see how it is doing. When Ishahayi Beach School Foundation first started, the foundation helped Lady Salami build an actual building for her school. She was teaching the children outside without a structure to house them in. Since that time, the school now has 6 classrooms. One for early primary, a room for primary 1, a room for primary 2 and 3 , a room for primary 3 and 4 and a room for primary 5 and 6. I was able to talk to the teachers who are doing the best job they can do with very limited supplies. There are as many as 37 children in some of the rooms that are about as big as a modest size American kitchen. The ages in each grade vary as well . In early primary the age range is from 2 years to 8 years old. This is due to the fact that some of the older ones in this class have not been to school before. There are also some 8 year olds in primary 3 and 4. It just depends how quickly they are learning. There are some 18 and 19 year olds in primary 3 and 4 also. Primary 5 and 6 ( equivalent of 5th and 6th grade) is the smallest in number with just 6 in primary 5 and 12 in primary 6. The reason for this is that as the children get older, the culture of the village is that they need to start working and provide money for the family. The value of education is very different in this part of the world. It is so humbling for me to go out to the school to see the children there. They all always have smiles on their faces even though they may not have shoes on their feet. Some of the children have tribal marks on their faces ( The picture above of the little boy shows the tribal scars on his face. I had talked about tribal marks in an earlier post on this blog.)The tribal scars indicate which tribe a person is from. It is really exciting to see them learning ( even though it is not the same way of learning that I am used to). The children are usually copying letters or multiplication tables from a chalk board ( very reminiscent of 19th century education in America), but there is learning going on. There is also singing in the classrooms which is so important to learn early elementary skills. The children seem happy, and they are able to get a meal at school for 20 naira each (about 5 cents). Each day, one of the women from the village makes food for the children and brings it to the school. It is usually mostly rice with a little sauce on it. Lady Salami is always grateful for anything we can provide for her school. I realize how privileged I have grown up after seeing the children and adults in this village. I just wanted to share this small part of the world with you, and show you a place that is very close to my heart.

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