A School ‘Without’ Teachers – A Nigerian Education Innovation

  • Have you seen a school that uses no textbooks, no exercise books and no timetables?or… 
  • Have you ever visited a school without a row of chairs, tables for students and teachers?… and 
  • Have you been to a school where there are no grade levels, and nobody is actually a student?

If you haven’t, then welcome to Prikkle Academy!

All that you see in a regular school, we have the opposite at this Academy.

In Nigeria, there is a worrisome statistics of millions of youths that have to spend at least 16 years through school to become fully unemployed.

The numbers are even scarier in rural communities where the quality of formal education is low, where the infrastructures are weak and the motivation of learners and teachers dwindle down to zero every day.

This news is everywhere, everyone is angry about the educational system and the hope for a highly productive future of the nation is like the legs of a snail walking backwards.

Instead of waiting until everything crumbles, Prikkle Academy decided to chart a different path – a daringly odd direction to not fix education but to nurture the gifts and assets that are available in any community.

We have a vision of an Africa where rural youths are community builders, valued by everybody and can play a critical role in national development.

So, we co-create innovation hubs (called makerspaces) with grassroots youths to inspire creative collaboration in identifying the social problems within their community, freely choose their own tools and become problem-solvers through virtual and peer-to-peer learning.

Student at Prikkle Academy

In a practical sense, we run from a specific community location, inside a solar-powered building, opened for 7 days in a week, where anyone of any age, background or skill can freely walk into and find the tools and resources they need to turn their ideas into real solutions.

No timetables, no teacher or student, no classwork or homework, no report cards, no payment of any fees, and nobody is paid a salary.

We call it real learning as real life is happening.

There is a little story that is worth sharing about how we decided to go in this direction and then, we will hold your hand as we walk you through some of the magical possibilities that have happened since we started in 2016.

Are you ready? Let’s go:

In 2012, a young man after immediately graduating from the University was enrolled by the Nigerian Government as a biology teacher on the compulsory 1 year National Service.

The usual practice is that some graduates influence their placement to be posted to the cities, but this guy didn’t bother influencing his posting.

Fortunately, he was posted into a hard-to-reach rural community in Benue State, North-Central Region in Nigeria (Most-populous African Nation).

He had to live in a house without electricity, drinkable water or toilet for 7 months of his stay in the community. When he resumed at the school, he found students that were academically brilliant and many others that struggled to learn.

While his job was to help students learn Biology, something shocking started happening to the students that he couldn’t ignore.

He realized that some of his students dropped out of school without any prior notice. He inquired about the situation and found out that there were two problems that led to this problem:

#1 Poverty! – the parents could no longer afford the cost of sending their children to school.
#2 The quality of education was too low to raise skilled youths.

Survival is generally tough in rural communities and the youths continuously moved to the city to become street children and manual laborers to survive.

At this point, he got inspired to help rural children and youths to get tailored, personalized and quality education that will ensure they learn effectively, have top-notch competencies to get jobs, be engaged and lead peaceful lives in the future, no matter where they go to.

He engaged about 200 students for 3 days in a series of capacity building sessions. The creative spirit, curiosity and the passion in the students were unleashed. Within a month, new enterprises were created and still growing till date.

The children and youths seemed powerless living in rural communities because they didn’t have the necessary technologies to learn, research, grow and blossom like the children in the city or in developed countries.

After his 1 year service year ended, he took a job that he didn’t need in the city. Yet, deep down, he was already consumed with the passion to empower humanity, because of his experiences visiting and working with more rural communities within that year.

His name is Damilola Fasoranti, straightaway he decided to start Prikkle Academy, left his city job and permanently moved into the rural communities to do 2 major things:

  • to make sure that any child and youth in the rural communities can be fully engaged with the tools, people and resources that will help them turn any education they have into solutions.
  • to help more youths to access learning opportunities, to collaborate on projects with other youths from around the world, to communicate effectively, become ethical leaders and lead successful lives.

In the past 3 years, here are some of the results of this ‘odd’ approach to Education:

  • Increased community recycling: plastic bottles, nylons and cartons were usually thrown away by the community people are now being sold in bundles starting from $2, as they now see the tangible recycled products that children and youths are creating from it.
  • Employment opportunities: At least 15 unemployed participants now earn $60+ monthly (above minimum wage) by offering their new skill sets virtually in design, content creation, social media management and research.
  • This makerspace, launched in 2017 has helped to engender peaceful co-existence with neighbors, different tribes, religions and language serving 7 schools (over 900 students) in the local communities of Mbagishi, Benue State and Afon, Kwara State, Nigeria.
  • For the first time, rural youths are able to use computers and learn with other people from around the world virtually.
  • The centre has attracted the visits of urban professionals, University students from several states in Nigeria and Overseas.
  • Our solution of turning household food waste into organic fertilizers for farmers has been adopted by people in 3 African countries.
  • We have successfully converted human feces into organic cooking fuel.
  • Successfully partnered with the Government in Nigeria and 4 other organizations in Nigeria (MollyFrank Nigeria Limited and MindTheGap – A Google Sponsored Initiative), in Benin Republic (VIP World) and a Non-profit Organization (Loss of Generality) Ireland.
  • In 2017, Prikkle Academy was profiled as one of the 450 education organizations in the world solving education problems with an innovative approach by Centre for Education Innovations (an Initiative of Results for Development Institute), USA.
  • – We were selected as 1 of the Top 100 Global Most inspiring Social Innovations by Social Enabler, India.
  • Our Staff and Participants have been selected for at least 6 International fellowship programs for using an unconventional method to solve rural educational problems in Nigeria.
  • Prikkle Academy’s inspiring approach to development has been published in the renowned CHANGE Magazine, by Development Innovation Insider (Diinsider), Hong Kong.

If there a dream that you have always had, the time to launch it was yesterday, not tomorrow. No matter how odd or scary it may seem.

See this documentary, click >>>> HERE

You have been inspired enough… now, LAUNCH!

To learn more and support our work at Prikkle Academy, visit our website: www.prikkleacademy.org | On Social Media: @PrikkleAcademy

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Damilola Fasoranti writes in his dreams and helps fearful entrepreneurs to finally launch their awesome dreams. He is a Tedx Speaker, a professional educator and the Chief Listener at Prikkle Academy (in Nigeria) where he provokes young people to turn their skills, gifts and knowledge into social solutions.

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Finally Letting Go In Order to Move On…

I’ve been living with a learning disability for most of my life.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve also lived with the fact of having many medical professionals tell my parents – that unfortunately, I wasn’t going to amount up to anything.

Image Credit: Pexels

Because of this stigma, I’ve felt the pain and agony of school bullying and harassment. After graduation, I joined a local job employment program for the disabled where I got my first experience of just how unacceptable society can be.

And trust me, just because I had a disability – employers didn’t waste time making me feel worse than what I already had been feeling, each looked down on me as if I was a complete waste of time, almost as if they “had” to hire me because they didn’t want a lawsuit. My heart went out to the other members in the program who had more severe disabilities. Lord knows what they must have been going through!

After several years of nothing but frustration over the discrimination and rejection, I decided to quit the job search.

Being 23 at the time, most people my age were already living on their own with good paying jobs and there I was, still living at home without a job prospect in sight. I remember volunteering at the local senior citizen center just to get out the house.

I began to feel bad for my parents whom were still having to support me. Thinking of that the job search and the remnants of school bullying and taunting began to make me one bitter person, it was like a plague that seemed to latch on to me daily.

However, I could go on and on about how angry I was at being disabled. The bitterness, resentment and grudges I felt from others judging me because of it which led me to carry some big chips on my shoulders – towards everyone!

Oh my, years of holding all that hurt affected me in all areas of my life. So much so, I began to live with worry, fear and anxiety. It all started in junior high when I created the habit of picking my skin to the point of scars and my nails to the point of nubs. I soon developed an eating disorder.

I had major trust issues. I didn’t have any friends outside of my volunteer work. I didn’t date. This lasted for years.

When I was 34, my maternal grandmother died from esophageal cancer. She was my last surviving grandparent. Losing her finally opened my eyes, it’s sad that it takes a tragedy for us to really see ourselves. I decided that I could no longer live this way and I had to do something about it.

It took me several years of self help programs and books but I have finally found peace. Now that’s not to say I haven’t made some pretty big whoppers. I mean, I am still human and do make mistakes, but I’m a much better ME, a me that I finally approve of!

Image credit: Pexels

I’ve been on this earth for nearly 42 years and have done an extensive amount of soul searching. In that discovery, I’ve learned quite a few things about myself as well as my environment and that’s this:

  • Not everyone is going to accept you.
  • People are going to hurt you because they’re hurting themselves and get a “high” off of causing others pain.
  • If you allow haters to rule your life, you’re slowly killing yourself.

I know because I spent well over 30 years accepting and doing just that. Don’t waste your life over how others perceive you. How God perceives you is what matters. He sent His son to die for you. All of your sins, all of your mistakes have been forgiven.

You are fearfully, wonderfully and beautifully made.

And don’t you EVER forget that!

Amy is a resident of Florida.  Since 2006, she has been self-employed in the dog care field.  In May 2017, she self-published a memoir titled “I Am Not Stupid” which is available through Amazon.  She writes for seethegoodinfo, an inspirational website and the Learning Disabilities Association’s newsletter LD Source.

May 2017, she self-published a memoir titled “I Am Not Stupid” which is available through Amazon.  She writes for seethegoodinfo, an inspirational website and the Learning Disabilities Association’s newsletter LD Source.

What has the World Done to Us? And, Why Am I Crying About It!

There’s a saying that says, “One Bad Apple, spoils it for the Rest” and the older I’m getting, I’m finding that statement to be even the more sadder by the minute, hour and day.

The World is a Cruel place.

Now I know what you may be thinking, “Okay, whose peed in my cheerios” Well, it’s not about “Who” but “What” – While the world is cruel and evil and sometimes (okay most times) unforgiving. There are still quite a few people in it, that are cool, personable and have a way of turning any blue day into a shiny one, just by their personality alone. I happen to be one of those people…

Recently, I put a couple of things online to sell. I posted these items across the yard sale boards and I tell you, I have never, ever in my life received so many responses. I mean, I couldn’t finish answering one question before I could answer another one. It became SOOO overwhelming, I began telling people that certain items had sold – just to calm down my inbox. It was then that I understood why celebrities have designated people either checking their emails or handling their social media handles. I guess you can say that experience was my 15 min of fame as I surely thought I had become one, OVERNIGHT!!

Image credit: The Edge

I was successful in getting certain things sold but after a couple of failed promised deals gone bad – I decided to go down the list to other people interested. What I noticed is that although I had stated in my post that there would be “NO DELIVERIES” I had quite a few people whom opted that I meet them in a public place, a common area where a lot of people are. I did this for one person but when it came to the other person wanting me to do the same thing, I felt a little disheartened.

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They were interested in an item I had but clearly stated that their circumstances would keep them from meeting me as they don’t do anything or go anywhere, especially to someone’s house without their spouse tagging along. They went on to mention that if they did meet me without their better half, it would have to be at a police station and because their spouse would be unavailable. They asked to be passed over for the items and that I move on to the next person.

In that moment, I felt some type of way, I felt dehumanized – if that makes sense. I suddenly thought – the world is a cruel place indeed; it’s been crippled by so much FEAR.

Thinking about the response from that individual suddenly made me cry. I admit, sometimes I can be a very emotional person, depending on the situation and especially during a good chick flick; pass the tissues because this girl will be crying. I mean, that’s just me.

Image Credit: Pexels

Now, I know my actions to that situation doesn’t make a lick of sense to you and if I can be honest, it really didn’t to me either, like “Why was I crying??” I felt sad because of ALL the negativity, scams, killings and so forth in the world, nobody can be trusted!! The first thing I thought was, “I wouldn’t hurt anyone” I remember crying one day because I’d accidently run over a dog, who came bustling out in the road from nowhere it seems.

I believe I cried too because I KNOW what type of person I am, but just because I KNOW, doesn’t mean that someone else does and you can’t be too careful these days, not even a little bit. People that speak nicely on the phone or appear nice, can easily turn out to be a terror in disguise, the only thing they need or seem to look for is an open heart to let them in and the next thing you know, your world, is turned upside-down. “Can’t people just be Good??, I mean, can we just have Good people, who want to do GOOD things and NOT bring hurt or harm to anyone? Can’t we just have GOOD PEOPLE? Are there NOT enough good people in the world??

While I was having an emotional moment of silence to myself. There was a little voice on the inside of me that said, “You Keep Being Good, no matter what, just keep being YOU!” It’s amazing how something so small can change our mindset about life and question who we really are.

I said all of that to say, Yes, while the world seems to be going to HELL in a hand-basket. There’s still some good and good people left in it. There are still organizations, companies and non-profits whom are changing the world – even if just for one person.

You can’t make people see the good in you, especially over the phone or thru a message board…lol, and please don’t try to make them. All you can do is just BE YOU. If you’re good, continue being good and don’t let anyone dull your shine, no matter how NEGATIVE the world may continue to get.

Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 (NIV)

Image Credit: Pexels