….. I am spending N3,500 weekly on data
Mrs Fausat Adegeye is a Senior Education Officer with the Lagos State Ministry of Education, Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB), she was recently recognised by the LASUBEB for organizing online classes for pupils in Primary one to Six. In this exclusive interview with The Bliss News, she spoke with AMIDU ARIJE on why she is single handedly teaching the pupils online during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Can we meet you ma?
My name is Fausiyyah Foladade Adegeye, I studied English Language from the Lagos State University and I am Senior Education Officer with the Lagos State government ministry of education, LASUBEB. I teach English at Ebenezer Primary School, Ifako Ijaiye Lagos. I am from Ikirun in Osun State.
You have become star of a sort for organizing online classes for pupils during this lockdown, what inspired you to do this?
I started the online class put of concern for my children and pupils. It was a Friday evening, I was sitting at my balcony, I saw these children playing nonstop and they have spent one week at home already doing nothing, because ordinarily if there is no COVID-19 and we are on holiday, my children do go to modrasah (Islamic teaching school) where they learn how to read the Quran, some go for computer training, and sometimes they go to camp. But there was nothing for them to do this time around because of COVID-19. So I thinking about their education, I was so concern about how they will cope should this lockdown continue longer than this. I started thinking on how will I cope with 4 children with different classes, how will I teach them. How will I engage them?
So as I was thinking about that, a thought just came to my mind that, you are a teacher and you are so concern about your children only what about those parents who are not teachers? What about those parents who do not know where to start from, they don’t have the scheme of work, they don’t even have idea of teaching, they don’t know what to do. I thought how do you expect them to teach, how do you expect them to cope?. So, on that spot I thought of how to take my own children, will it not be right for me to take them with other children. And since I can’t even get in touch with them, I thought which means can I use, so I thought of using my Facebook account. I happen to be the type that loves to be online when I am less busy, the only way to relax myself is to chat, read and post pictures on Facebook. So, I thought I have many of my pupils’ parents as friends on Facebook and some of my colleagues are also there and I have some other mothers as well that could be concern about their childrens’ education, so I thought if I could start an online class to teach these children, on the Facebook will be a better place to reach out to these pupils.
I initially thought of taken them Mathematics, Science and English, but yhe first day I started I had to restrict myself to English language because it took more time than I expected. And I felt it will be okay to take only English, so I went inside and told my husband about it and he saw it as a welcome idea, so the following day which was on a Saturday, 28 of March, I made a post card and sent it out to people to inform them this is what I intend doing to teach pupils in primary 1 to primary 6 from Monday through Saturday from 11am to 2pm. I did it to sample opinions to see what they will say about it and many people welcomed it. I posted the post card on Facebook and WhatsApp groups. Before starting, many people have started praying for me that it was a good idea. Though, I had some people who had their reservations, they thought it is not realistic. They feel many parents may not be able to afford data and that it may not reach the target audience which are public schools pupils, but at the same time many people replied that, it is fine, I might not be able to reach many of the target pupils but the little I can reach is better to do something than nothing. No matter the number of the pupils reach, even if it is just ten of them I am able to reach and benefit and since it is one day per class a week for each of the classes, so I decided to go on with the hope that a parent should be able to afford data for that one day.
So with that thought, I sent out the post and I started on Monday. I actually, I didn’t know it was going to take this long. I thought it was going to be 2 or 3 weeks and I have in that my post that I will teach throughout the lockdown. It is been 8 weeks now and since I have promised to take them throughout the lockdown, I have I to continue. I can’t back up because I have already made a promise and that is why the classes are still ongoing until now.
What has been the response from the pupils so far?
It is very encouraging, the pupils are responding very well and the parents are appreciative of it. Many a time, many of them will call me to thank me, some send texts messages with prayers for me. Saying that I have really helped them to keep their pupils busy during this lockdown. So it is really encouraging they are responding very well and very active in the class.
How many hours do you spend daily taken these children?
In most cases, we spend two hours every day. At times, it could be less but most of the time it is two hours more often than none we spend more time, especially for the primary six pupils. I teach them on Saturdays, apart from the fact that I will teach them their scheme of work, I still treat past questions with them, so at times we spent three hours or more.
What has been the challenges you are encountering during these classes?
Some of the challenges I faced when I started was how to prepare the teaching aid. You know the first challenge I encountered was that whenever I write normally from the left to the right, by the time I use that in class, parents will complain that it is upside down that the children could not understand it. From my side it is reading left to right but from their side, it is reading right to left, so it make reading difficult for them, they were complaining. I called a friend of mine who is also a teacher, he is someone that is so used to the computer and I told him this is what I am experiencing, he said there was no way I could do it since I am not using a camera, that the phone will show a reflection and it will be showing from right to left to the children views. I asked him what should I do, he said there was nothing except if I have somebody to record me using the camera, since I could not get a camera, I have to start practicing to write as if I am writing Arabic letters from right to left, so I practice to write from the right to left, it took me some days before I could get it perfectly well. So whenever you see me using any material as teaching aid, I actually wrote them from the right to left.
I also have the challenge of the network, at times I will be teaching and the network will disrupt and video will stop I have to start all over again. There are some parents that will be caught off from the class and later they will tell me that they couldn’t follow because of the bad network so those are the major challenges I face.
What means are you using to get data for the classes because we know that video teaching on Facebook will consume data, how do you source it?
I buy data by myself and then my husband also assists me with data. And at times, some of my friends will call and ask how I mine coping with the class and data at times I get some of them that send me card as their own way of supporting the programme. I have like three or four persons that have done that so far. Basically, I spend N3, 500 on data per week, because for each class, I spent nothing less than 2 gigabytes.
Spending 3,500 on data weekly, how have you been coping?
To God be the glory I have been able to cope this far because my husband supports me and sometimes like I said, from people.
How is the pupils’ performance in class and how do you assess them?
In terms of performance, many of the parents are not helping, but actually in class any time I teach the class is interactive, after explaining the class, we have class activities where I ask them questions on the topic taught and they respond very well, that is why you will see like 200 or 300 comments, that is their response to the class activities. I read questions from the comprehension passage and they will answer the questions and grammar questions as well. So after the class activity, I give assignment, it is on this assignment that I have few of parents that are cooperating with me. Some of the parents will not send the assignment when I ask them to send it. I have very few of them that do send to my messenger account and those that send, I mark and give back their scripts. While some will not send and if I ask them, the parents will say they find it difficult to sitting down to type, some will say they did but could not send it. But I have some dedicated parents that usually send the assignments daily. So that is how I assess the pupils.
Going by some of the challenges you encountered, have you ever taught of quitting the class for any reason?
I had taught of it several times, I won’t lie. There had been many times I will tell my husband that I want to stop this class as a result of teaching materials in terms of preparing just the way I have told you. So to prepare a material for a class may take me up to three or four hours, what should have taken me one hour. And apart from that, at times there will be no data so it is just my husband that will come to my aid and saying you cannot stop because you have already made a promise. In fact, most times he is the one that give me that courage to continue. And at times the reason while I could not stop is responses I get from these innocent pupils and their parents that will just give me courage to go on. At times, if they don’t see me they keep typing we are waiting for our teacher and the likes, so I have already raised their hopes, so to pack out now will be a disappointment. Those are things that give me the courage to move on each time I thought of stopping as a result of challenges.
How do you feel when you received the recommendation letter from LASUBEB?
The recommendation letter I got from SUBEB is like a motivator. it is a motivating factor for me, as I told you there is this challenge of finance to get data so I was already wearing off at the time the letter came. So the letter came at the right time for me, it lifted my soul and light up my spirit and gave me the seal to want to continue. So now stopping it is no longer an option for me, it has already been recognize by government, so I could only think of getting it better and pray to God to help me continue the good work. It is really a booster for me, because when I started, I was not even thinking I would get recognized, in fact my thought had never gone that way that the government will see me and get appreciated, I was just doing my own thing, so it came as a surprise and the way it was done, it lightened up my soul, it makes me feel so happy.
What do you think the government or individuals can do to keep the class going?
Well if anybody wants to help to keep the class going, all I just need is subscription that is all. If somebody can help to subscribe my data, I can continue to get materials because I use markers, card board and papers.
Will you continue the class after the lockdown?
To continue after the lockdown will not be realistic, you know the class is coming up during school hours and the only reason pupils could join was because school is closed and they are at home. So when school resumes everybody will go back to class even I myself will be in class doing my normal teaching activities , so there is no way that is going to work. The only thing I intend doing, is that I had in mind that I will continue to post relevant and useful information and notes about English language on my timelines but it will not be video this time around. I will pick a topic every week and post for pupils to access and read it. I have already started preparing my materials for that.
Looking at state of education and this lockdown that has continue for months what is your advise to the government to do at this time?
Well for the government, it only get better. Sincerely, apart from the fact that I work with the Lagos State government, I must commend them. Especially the SUBEB chairman and the LGEA, there are so many programmes they are running during this period, they have radio and television programmes for the pupils. The only thing I think we don’t have is awareness. They have the television programme where the children can watch on TV and they also run radio programme. The government has really done so much to keep the children during this COVID-19 period. The only problem is that some parents are not just really concern about the education of their children. Because I don’t see any reason a parent will complain of not engaging the children, the radio programme runs Monday through Friday. The television is three times a week so the government is really trying. The parents need to be more concern about the education of their children.
Does the recommendation letter comes with any monetary or material benefits?
The recommendation letter does not come with money. Sincerely somebody has also called me to ask how much I was given. I must say I did not receive any money from the government up till now, I have been spending my money. But that does not mean I do not appreciate the letter, at least I am been recognized and that is enough for me. I am not putting out the fact that if I am given money I will not collect. I will collect it but I was not given any money and I am not complaining. That recognition is something.
What is your advice to your colleagues in the teaching profession?
My advice is that we should just be more passionate about the work. I always tell people if you want to look at the money and incentives in this profession you may not want to be a teacher. But our training is not about money, we have been trained in such a way that we should not be so particular about material things, what should be our satisfaction is that we are building lives, we are making people that will be greater in the future. So if something comes while doing it fine but if not, there is no worries. The government is paying our salary we should be able to make up for whatever we are getting because at times even the normal official work so people complain about doing it. But we have many teachers out there especially in Lagos state that are very passionate. I just want to say we should keep up the good work, we should not be discouraged.
What is your general advice?
I just want to advise the parents that at this time, every parent should be a teacher. We should all be teachers, we should not leave everything to government, we should stop complaining, parents do complain a lot. They complain of no power supply to watch TV programmes for their children. They can go online to search for materials to use in teaching their children. When I started this class, I do not have all the materials, I have to google to get some materials and I found all I needed. So, parents can also do something to keep their children busy, they should not leave everything in the hands of government. They should be more concern because some of them can burn data watching comedies on their phones.