The approach of dusk signals a conclusion of the day’s work in our locality. But for nocturnal studious minds like ours, the descending sun and fading light announces the beginning of an exciting and interactive moment. As if having heard a rallying call, one by one, we crawl in through this very familiar old wooden gate into our study center with huge backpacks loaded with question pamphlets, chalk boxes and reference handbooks. By 5:30 pm, Peculiar Primary School is flooded with studious, excited and highly motivated final year refugee students, having eyes glittering with zest to tackle the day’s study. By 6 pm, enthusiasm is at its apex. Everyone, with a chalk bar in one hand and a duster in the other; crowds in a semi-circle around the battered, old blackboard occupying the largest classroom in the school; it signals problem solving time. With only a timid fluorescent light bulb serving as a guide a few centimeters from above our heads, we all take turns in analyzing, decoding and annihilating problem after problem, clearing one another’s doubts in between. Within those unplastered walls, everyone is a teacher, everyone is a student, everyone gets to ask questions, everyone gets the chance to answer them. We have no superior; there only exists a coordinator. That’s how we run the Self-Evaluation Program (SEP).
Chemistry practical session (I am in the lab jacket holding the bowl)
I believe in the collaborative approach; I believe in the act of people educating one another. I see learning as a bidirectional relationship where the role of teacher and student constantly alternates amongst learners. Sincerely, I’m still to come across an ‘empty’ vessel-or a completely full one either. Learning is growing, and we continually need one another to progress in this endeavor.
Now, consider termite mounds which saturate grasslands across the world especially African Savannah. Studies show that, these mounds made from termite faeces can actually span 30 metres in diameter and stand 5 metres above the ground. Radioactive dating tells us that some of these mounds have been around for more than 3000 years and still barely show signs of collapse. They are a wonder in the animal kingdom, hundreds of times larger than their architects.
My High School Campus - The burnt remains of the office of the Vice Principal, where school archives are kept.
Mound-building termites being these architects, exist in distinct castes each having singular skills. Their effective corporation is what keeps the mound intact and for the survival and protection of the mound, every member of the colony has to function at her very best.
It’s detrimental if leaders always try to impose on others or promote their own thoughts and suggestions; every member has a distinct skill which can assist to uplift a project. We have the task to help them get to their best. It’s our place to encourage their own ideas and provide an interactive medium for these ideas to mature. As I’ve learnt from both the SEP and mound-building termites, we can only succeed to reach unimaginable heights and spans if every member is given that chance to excavate from within that unique idea which he/she possesses. Our minds flourish in diversity.
Che John, HALI Student (Open Dreams Pre-Scholar, Douala - Cameroon)