“Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army – Edward Everett.”
Formal and Non formal education are critical to the development of every nation. It is fundamental to the sustenance of any society. One of the primary means by which a Nation’s human capital can be developed is through a comprehensive educational structure for the citizenry, especially at the basic level. Also, the right to quality education is a right guaranteed to all. It is succinctly provided in Section18 (1)-(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999, (as amended) that: “Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy; and to this end Government shall as and when practicable provide —free, compulsory and universal primary education; free university education; and free adult literacy programme.” However, it is quite conspicuous that the state of Education in the country needs far reaching interventions from not just the government but from private and non-government organizations alike. The provision for ‘equal education’ opportunity to all school-age children ought to be a prime ambition of every nation and region all over the world. Nigeria as a nation is not secure if her young children are deprived of the right to education due to whatever circumstance or condition.
Also, in a country where the majority of the citizens know too much about the problems bedevilling the republic, but do so little to contribute their quota to solving the same. In a country that has consistently got knocked down by unfavourable international data as regards the number of out of school children it parades, the solution to this problem that has confounded the toughest of policy makers is not far-fetched. Flexisaf foundation has emerged with the sole mandate to drastically reduce these embarrassing numbers of out-of-school children using a rather unconventional model of learning; The Accelerated Learning System. Recently, the foundation graduated over forty (40) of their first set of beneficiaries.
The Accelerated Learning program works in a very dynamic way, whence, safe space(s) are created in the target community, and the foundation secures the employment of learning facilitators who pass through rigorous processes of employment before being hired. Emphasis is placed on prior child care experience in the process(es) of hiring learning facilitators that will teach in the Accelerated Learning spaces. The selected out-of-school children in the community are then grouped into classes according to their age and mental capacity. They are taught from a robust curriculum that embodies numeracy, life skills, literacy and computational thinking tutoring. After which, they are then certified fit through a series of assessments before being transitioned into formal schooling systems at absolutely no cost to the beneficiaries, their parents and guardians. The result-based curriculum, being used in the AccLearn space has been lauded by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) as sustainable and workable.
Pioneered in Rugga, an indigent community of nomadic settlers, who due to their way and mode of settlement, hardly think about sending their children to school, or introducing them to the basics of learning. Rugga is located on the outskirts of Wuye Area in Abuja. The Acclearn project started with about 50 indigent kids who were identified, profiled and kitted with relevant schooling needs and taught by the meticulously chosen children-friendly learning facilitators. The AccLearn model encountered some expected and a number of unexpected setbacks, ranging from the engagement with community members at the onset of the program, to the process of conscientizing the parents and guardians of beneficiaries to release their wards to this process of change. Change they say is a continuous process, the process of metamorphosing these “crude” younglings into educational next rated stars didn’t come without a price. Flexisaf Foundation was on hand and ready to pay whatever price it might require to liberate the minds of these children. The passion of the foundation’s officials, and the deep insights of the learning facilitators made them soldier on especially, when the drawback from lack of resources and the dreaded pandemic threatened the survival of the AccLearn Project. It is worthy of note that the foundation did not just continue from where it paused as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the foundation went further to modestly reach out by donating palliatives to the parents of its Acclearn beneficiaries.
FlexiSAF Foundation glamorously graduated the pioneer set of its signature Acclern project and hosted a pre-transitioning event for these beneficiaries on the 7th of September 2021, in the presence of relevant stakeholders of the Education sector in Nigeria. The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFR), were all represented at this very inspiring event. The press was led by the African Independent Television (AIT) which came to report the event alongside other media outlets.
The foundation aspires to scale the AccLearn model in the states of Kano, Yola and others with seemingly high numbers of out-of-school children. This exercise is underway as the identification process is ongoing. It is expected that in the coming days, the foundation will run the Acclearn project simultaneously in all these states of impact and get the measure of result and more it got from the pioneer project.
FlexiSAF Foundation foundation is leading the way and walking the talk as regards changing the country’s appalling global perception as regards access to quality education. Its activities should be encouraged by stakeholders, policy makers and citizens alike, as it is through collaborative efforts like these that the country can proverbially change its character by its own hands.
–Ayantunji is a Lawyer, Legislative Draftsman and Child Education Advocate. He writes from Abuja