I have just returned from Abuja. How different life is there and what a great time we had. It was so nice to meet up with other VSOs and share experiences. We visited one VSO who was in hospital. She had had quite a bad time and had spent a lot of time in wards with noisy babies before being moved to her own room-which is quite unusual for hospitals here. She had also gone without food for a while as relatives are expected to look after you when you are in hospital. Eventually she realised she could buy food from the hospital. Although it was quite smelly it was clean. She has now gone home to recover-get well soon Sarah.
There are great places to eat in Abuja and we enjoyed a lovely meal at an Italian restaurant and had delicious meze at another. We even went to the cinema to see ‘Planet of the Apes Prequel’. I am a bit better in taxis now and stick mostly to the coloured ones. It was good having Lea with me this time. I also had a good time with Ayo in our favourite place-the craft village where I bought some lovely jewellery and a sculpture for our flat.
The aim of our visit was an ESSPIN meeting where we discussed such things as replicating the lesson plans in other states, funding and self-evaluation for the SSIT. The most interesting part for me was finding out what other groups are doing in Nigeria to improve education. A group working in Sakota and Bauchi have done research which reveals how very low teaching and learning standards are. Something like only 4% could read simple words, know sounds, comprehend a story and this was not in English but in Hausa, their own language. Even worse teachers don’t see that this is anything to do with them. During their training they are never taught how to teach so it is not surprising really. It is good that ESSPIN is working with such groups and sharing practice. It made me feel much more hopeful and keen to be part of.
It is also good to meet people from other states like Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, Enugu and Jigawa. Umah made me really want to visit Kano which is a really ancient city and Lucy has persuaded me to visit Jigawa in November for the Dharma
It is strange being in Abuja –you could really be anywhere in the world. In the cinema it was just like being back home. Back in Kwara it is quite different-no lights, people shouting ‘white person’, shopping issues-yet I don’t think I would like to live in Abuja. In Kwara I know people and have lots of Nigerian friends. I also love working with the SSIT.