Be Part of the Change: Helping to achieve the SDG for Quality Education

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Sr. Elizabeth, a HESA Student, wrote this piece about quality education after facilitating the January Alumnae meeting in Nigeria.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an agenda to transform the world by year 2030, were accepted at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015 by Ban-Ki Mono, the Secretary General. I love the 17 sustainable goals and love creating awareness of the SDGs among my brothers and sisters here in Nigeria. The ASEC Alumni meeting in Jos Plateau State, Nigeria, gave me an even greater desire to participate in achieving these goals.

Quality Education is the fourth SDG. Quality education is determined by

  • high educational standards
  • clean and conducive environments for learning
  • quality and effective teachers using teaching aids
  • well prepared curriculum and good methodology
  • good classroom size and class control and teachers who have technical know-how i.e. teaching from known to unknown. 
  • avoidance of self-propagating education that Richard Phillips Feynman (1985), an American Physicist, describes as “students memorizing everything in order to pass exams meanwhile didn’t know what anything meant or nothing translated into meaningful words”

Richard Phillips Feynman (1985) and counterpart Paulo Freire (1993) described a banking concept in which students become containers, or receptacles, to be filled by the teachers. But following the Quality Education SDG will help our society to avoid this concept and build future generations of good leaders.

On a Wednesday afternoon I was walking down the road in search of a cobbler who can help to mend my sandals, when I passed a mother and a child sitting in front of the shop. The mother was trying to help the little girl (of about 4 years) to do her homework, but I noticed the methodology being used was quite wrong for her age.

While waiting for the cobbler, I smiled at the little girl and asked her to show me her homework. I could see her reluctance at first, but I kept smiling and slowly she gave me her book. The poor girl was struggling to write numbers 1-20. According to the early twentieth-century psychologist John Watson and his fellow behaviorist B. F. Skinner (1960, 1974), “responses that we reward or reinforce, will be learned and responses that are not reinforced go away or are extinguished.” Remembering this, I complimented the girl on her work so far.

I asked for her permission to use the eraser to erase all wrong answers and gradually we began to rewrite her homework. All along, I let this little girl feel that she was teaching me how to write instead of the other way around. Her parents were fascinated by the progress we were making in such a short amount of time. The mother peeked over my shoulders and exclaimed, “How did you do it? Are you are a teacher? Look at the way my girl is writing beautifully after I have tried so hard to make her do so!”

I smiled and then introduced myself. They were so grateful and did not charge me for my sandal repair. The husband said that as soon as I stepped into their shop, they knew that there was something different about me but could not explain why. We became good friends and I was happy to have taken that bold step of lifting one person to improve the quality of her education. I often walk passed the shop to find the little girl waiting to see me.

Thanks to ASEC/SLDI programs. Thanks to HESA and thanks to our Director here in Nigeria Sr. Clementina Obembe (OSF) for encouraging me to participate in ASEC programs and building my confidence.

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Sr. Babalola Tolulope Elizabeth, DHS

Sr. Babalola Tolulope Elizabeth, DHS
HESA Alumna - Nigeria  

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