Free school run by farm produce
The Anam community is located in the southeast of Nigeria, west of Anambra State. There are eight communities in the huge community. Four of them (Ebenebe, Mmiata, Iyiora, and Abiegbu) are extremely far away and are located by the Anambra River, which runs 210 kilometers into the River Niger, the third-largest river in Africa.
Between May and October, when it rains a lot, the river swells above its banks and overflows into homes. These settlements have few elementary and secondary schools (public and private), and they are frequently flooded each year, which wears down the buildings and furniture.The majority of the instructors who work in these isolated villages' schools reside outside of the villages where they have access to basic utilities due to ongoing flooding, inadequate road systems, and lack of electricity and other amenities.
Every day, they ride motorbike taxis to the flooded villages to commute to work. According to farmer and mother of four Grace Obaka, "[the] teachers do not come to class" when flooding prevents access to the road. "The kids tell me when they get home from school that nothing got done. Weeks may pass in which condition."These settlements are primarily populated by farmers. So when school activities are interrupted, parents send their kids to work on fields.
A fresh city school
Most schools in the southeast area had been destroyed by the time the civil war in Nigeria came to an end in 1970. Children who had survived the 30-month conflict were in class in the shady branches of trees. One of these kids was the Anam native Aloy Chife. Despite post-war challenges, Chife was able to complete his education and, at the age of 26, earned a doctorate in economics from the London School of Economics. He now invests in technology ventures. Chife was constantly aware of the state of education in his hometown, Anam. Thus, soon after he married Gesare, a Kenyan nurse, in 2006, the couple made the decision to establish the Aloy and Gesare Chife Foundation to improve the community education. With their effort for the good they also worked on the Sustainable Development Goals as part of a global society. They began by awarding financial aid to disadvantaged Anam students enrolled in universities in Nigeria.
Beneficiaries-to-be must consent to the requirement that following graduation, Anam receive the community-development services of their choice. Younger Anam people may receive educational support or training in skill development. The fund provided 60 scholarships to Anam children during a 15-year period. But in 2012, it made the decision to get involved in early childhood education, kindergarten through third grade, and primary (one to six). It established the Anam New City School, which provides community youths with a free education.The five-block school with eight classrooms was constructed in Ebenebe village and accepts students from the four outlying communities. 13 kids were first enrolled into the nursery division of the school, which had a headmistress and three teachers. “These  children were hand-selected. In the second semester, we increased to 22. We added 32 students to the courses by the next year“, according to the headmistress, Onyinye Ndu.
The institution only hires qualified university grads with at least three years of teaching experience. A teacher goes through one week of training on how to use the school’s curriculum after being hired.
The foundation constructed staff quarters where its teachers and other personnel reside to avoid the issues other schools had with their teachers. They can attend school without having to navigate flooded roads during wet seasons.
Additionally, the school has a well that supplies clean water to the teachers and runs a power generator periodically during the day to provide them with electricity. Additionally, it includes a library with about 1000 volumes provided by foreign organizations, something that the community's underfunded primary schools cannot purchase.
Two categories of prospective pupils
Every session's admissions period begins in September, and according to Ndu, "we get roughly 200 children willing to attend our school every academic session."
On the school's field, prospective students are gathered and divided into two groups as part of the selection process. Those who withdrew from other primary schools make up the first category. Each kid in this group must pass an entrance exam to enroll in the elementary division of Anam New City School.
Children who are of school age but haven't started school yet make up the second group. Age and economic status are utilized as selection criteria for the nursery classes, and they are equally distributed across the four villages. "I start choosing any age [from] six [and up]. It requires a lot of technical work, and since this is a free foundation, we also attempt to help the less fortunate "Ndu clarified.
The school now admits 50 students into each primary class, up from the initial 25 students per year. And Ndu added, "At the moment, we have 318 students in the school (primary)."
Each child is given a free uniform, sportswear, and other items upon admission. Every school day at 7 am, a free 100-seater bus picks up students at specific areas to take them to class. Additionally, every kid receives a free meal during recess.
Sustainable with agricultural output
Initially, the founding pair provided the majority of the cash. We prefer[red] to use a portion of our earnings towards this charitable organization, Gesare remarked.
Later, parents were required to pay a N1,000 commitment fee each term (of three months). But the foundation opted to use some of its enormous property for agricultural after realizing that that commitment was insufficient to support the school over the long term. The school is situated on a 22 acre parcel of land owned by the couple.
The estate manager, Chike Amike, told Prime Progress that on the other half, "We plant rice, plantain, yams, and cassava... while we also maintain poultry, goat stables, and fish ponds."
Each year, the crop is split in half after harvest. Half is given to the school for its free meal program, while the other half is sold, with the revenues going toward funding the administration of the institution. However, the last few years have had a low crop as a result of flooding. Amike stated, "We planted over 1000 yam plants last year, but only 441 tubers were obtained, and those were given to the school for their food programs.
Low yield results in increased feeding costs for the foundation. Similarly to other schools, Anam school activities are put on hold when a flood floods through the building, ruining furniture, books, and other goods in the process. Ndu said that it sometimes take several weeks for kids to return to class. The structure the founding pair established at the foundation maintains the school functioning smoothly in spite of the difficulties and the fact that they reside abroad and only occasionally visit Anam. A commercial bus driver named Wisdom Ugochukwu removed her daughter Favour from one of the village's primary schools in 2019 because the teachers were absent due to flooding and other issues. He explained his decision to remove her daughter by claiming that the business owner was simply extorting the parents and had nothing to show for it. The teachers at Anam New City School are more devoted and reliable, therefore he later enrolled her there. Three years later, he declared that he was "[content] with her [Favour] since I am seeing all the changes in her." Favor has good writing, reading, and spelling skills.
The foundation's strategy is distinctive since it includes a farming system that helps the school run sustainably, with the exception of the few occasions when flooding had an impact on production.
To shape the future sustainably, you can only do so if you have the necessary knowledge base to do so. The challenges are great: Climate change, migration movements, the Covid 19 pandemic all show how vulnerable our way of life and economy is. Lessons must be learned to make the world crisis-proof everyone shares responsibility for the generations that will come after us. To enable them to live well on this planet, the United Nations has set the global sustainability goals. It is up to us to create a global society with science, new ideas, creative minds and willpower and a lot of heart.
More information: https://primeprogressng.com/posts/yams-cassava-the-nigerian-free-school-run-from-farm-produce-207?_s=0