THE HOPE EDEN COMMUNITY SCHOOL
Good education is scarce
Those who live in the countryside usually do not have access to good education. Most parents are unable to pay school fees for their child. If they have more than one child it is even less likely that they can afford sending them to school.
In addition to the customary school fees, they have to pay for schoolbooks, a school uniform, registration fees, travel and feeding.
Most of the times, the schools are in a desolate condition. Buildings and equipment are deficient, teachers are paid irregularly (if at all), and classes containing 80 pupils and more are quite common. As a consequence, many pupils are not able to read and write properly, even after completing the sixth grade.
Hope Eden Community School (HECS) is meant for children whose parents cannot afford to send them to a regular school. In accordance with the school’s motto “Helped to help”, children living in the structurally disadvantaged surrounding area of Abuja are given the chance to receive a good school education.
They are taught domestic, technical and other practical skills, which will allow them to live independently after they leave school. They will be able to contribute to and create positive changes in their country. Families that benefit from this approach are often not able to contribute financially. They can, however, participate by providing their manpower. Many parents are involved in helping to build the school or to keeping it clean and doing maintenance work. Others support the school by donating food for the school meals.
Kindergarten and Preschool
In order for the pupils to be prepared for secondary school, a good educational basis is fundamental. During kindergarten, the focus is on playful learning. The children learn how to interact with each other and how to behave in a group setting.
Communication skills are one of the central goals. For most children, English is not their native language. English is, however, an official language in Nigeria and it is essential that basics of the language be introduced early. Only after having attained fluency by the end of preschool, children meet the prerequisites to learn how to write in English.
Quality matters not quantity
Currently more than 130 children attend the school. They are divided into two kindergarten groups, one preschool class and six regular classes. Small class sizes allow the teachers to take individual care of the pupils. Children with learning difficulties have the opportunity to attend remedial teaching for the major subjects. These teaching units take place outside the classroom in small learning groups or in a one-on-one setting. Many of the local teachers are not familiar with this kind of teaching. Therefore, special instruction classes, with specific training sessions concerning important topics, take place for the staff.
The children are often malnourished. At school they receive a small breakfast snack and one proper meal. If needed, medical assistance is provided. The importance of this approach is apparent at the beginning of each new school year. After several weeks of summer break, some children have lost weight and are significantly thinner.
The living conditions of the children are often very simple. Hygiene plays an inferior role in most families. Since many illnesses occur as a result of a lack of hygiene, this subject has its own place in the curriculum of the school. The children learn how to brush their teeth, wash their hands and use a toilet. Moreover, they are taught about dangers like infections and polluted drinking water.
School uniforms are a fixed part of the Nigerian school system. As in many other countries, the uniforms intent is to do away with social differences, which would otherwise be evident from the clothing of the pupils. Additionally, this helps to overcome prejudices based on social standing.
Unfortunately, many parents can’t afford these school uniforms. Therefore, at Hope Eden Community School, two school uniforms, as well as sports clothes for the weekly sport day, are provided for every child.
Contrary to most public schools, Hope Eden Community School provides excellent learning conditions. This is true for the premises, the rooms, as well as the equipment.
On the premises there is a playground with slides, swings and a climbing frame, a soccer field, a school garden and a separate school kitchen.
Apart from the classrooms of the elementary school, the school building also houses the kindergarten and the preschool. Additionally, there are special rooms like the computer room, the kitchen for pupils, the crafts room and the school’s own library.
The school has its own power and water supply – something that is by no means common in Nigeria. As a consequence, the classes can take place regardless of how stable the power supply from the operating company is.
Thanks to numerous sponsors, the teaching materials have reached an overall satisfactory level. This contributes to interesting and effective lessons.
Books, booklets, pencil cases and pens are provided for the children.