Last week we had a trending video about a little girl called ‘Baby success’ .She was sent home because her of parents’ inability ;they couldn’t or didn’t pay her school fee. The trend was an interesting one as the pissed-off little lady refused to feel like a victim in her dismissal , explaining that the fact that she didn’t pay didn’t mean she wasn’t going to pay and she also expressed how she would have totally preferred beatings to being sent home. The viral video led to her getting a scholarship all the way to higher institutions and her dilapidated school building got some renovations. A total make over, I am not here to say how wacked the Nigerian system is or how people wait for videos to trend before the help .I even saw a picture of her posing with a bundle of naira notes for the social media likes last Sunday. I digress…
I got thinking as this sent my mind back to the school terms we were sent home to our parents for not paying tuition fees or incomplete fee . In our case we were usually excited about leaving school earlier than usual and going home and proudly we would tell anybody who would meet us on the way with a question. We would enthusiastically explain why we were not in school. “They didn’t pay our school fees!” We just loved getting home to play and eat rather than stay in the class, I don’t know if my siblings felt same but I did feel excited. We passed our exams still …
I also thought of the day, I was in the university and things really got better for us financially. I was strolling on a street in the village, I vaguely remember meeting a little girl, I can’t remember her name but I heard she told the story somewhere and mentioned how this encounter helped her and she was pushed to further her education amidst all, I learnt she was attending a certain university ,this was two years ago. On that fateful day, I asked her, what happened and why she was on the road and not in class, she said she was sent home because she didn’t pay her school fee. Her entire school fee for the nursery school she attended was just what I had in my palm as ‘change’ from what I purchased in the nylon bag. I followed her back to the nearby school, and paid her fees. These memories being penned here are not to say I have earned my bragging right, it was a good feeling knowing she furthered after that fateful day,she was roughly five years.
We have a lot of people on our home streets who are willing to go to school but can’t and the fees may probably be what you buy a meal at the restaurant or pick a toy with. We don’t need a bullion van filled with money to help another “baby success”.
I also remembered the day I started teaching in a college, I was in 300 levels at the university and I went there for a compulsory teaching practice. There was a boy, called Momoh ,he was hardly tidy with barely more than three buttons on his shirt , you could actually see his tummy but no one passed him in class grades, his brain was a sharp blade and he really loved learning as I could see his enthusiastic look and readiness while teaching the class Mathematics. His shirt was off white instead of the pure white due to lack of proper care and it was also obvious that the barely ten-year old in his first year was having it rough at home.
One fateful day, The school authority sent someone to call out the names of those who did not pay their Tuition fee and Momoh was among. I was touched as I watched him sadly walk out of the classroom ,this was in the middle of a class Test .There was nothing I could do about it this time as I didn’t have enough on me …but what I saw that day kept me thinking all my life…Grit… I turned my back on the class and continued writing the equations on the board…but when I turned to face the class, I saw Momoh hiding outside the class and peeping through the window ,he held his book in his hand and was writing outside the class, through the netted window. Then there was this girl who had the cleanest uniform and the neatest eyebrows ,well lined eyes but her low grades were a constant. She was boldly bullying the younger Momoh,sending him away from her window. I saw him squeeze himself between the classroom wall and the nearby bushes behind the class to solve his mathematics problems. The pretty girl, repeatedly called my attention as I purposely ignored Momoh’s presence .She was calling “Excuse me, ma” to report him to me so I could send him away but I couldn’t because I saw myself in Momoh though I wasn’t that determined as I would go home when sent away by The school. Those days our school fee was a tall dream .So I told Momoh to shift away from her to the next window and continue writing, when the whole class submitted their books for marking, I got Momoh’s rolled up book through the window square space and voila! he scored the highest.
Months later, My day was made with a bear hug…I went to the school to collect a document after my Teaching practice period and a boy took me by surprise and nearly knocked me off my feet, he rushed at me with some good speed ,held me tightly around the waist. It was an excited Momoh’s head on me.
It may not cost us much, just look around you, you may be doing it already , keep at it … Many children will hug you back and that joy is priceless…its like a boomerang… seeing lit up faces alone will give you the true meaning of life.
All the best ,