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 [ctt template=”8″ link=”aIJ70″ via=”no” ]Prikkle Academy – Changing Lives, Empowering Communities [/ctt]

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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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T.A.T: Thank A Teacher – I Appreciate You, Mrs. Anita Bell!

the photo above courtesy of bing/thankyou

As the kiddos are getting anxious, nervous and prepared to go back to school; my mind went back to the days in which I felt all of those emotions going back. Now that I think about it, I was really scared. It was like each new grade was even scarier than the last one. I didn’t really know what to expect, all I knew was that I wanted it to rush by so I could graduate and be DONE with it.

Continue reading “T.A.T: Thank A Teacher – I Appreciate You, Mrs. Anita Bell!”