My full name is Obiakor, Vera Ada. I am 42 years old and have been a teacher for 17 years. I teach Further Mathematics and I am the ICT coordinator in my school Government Secondary School, Kubwa. I take pictures as a hobby and have been taking pictures for 6 years.
My school is situated in a semi-rural community of Kubwa in FCT Abuja, Nigeria. It was when I noticed that a large number of the students are not computer literate, and that it has been psychologically affecting them when they go out to meet their fellow students in the educational field, that I resolved to start the ICT section and club. The challenges were so great, but I was determined to at least try. My school is a subsidized government school with only 3 working computer systems, a population of more than 2,000 students, lack of constant electricity: so there is no way the students can ever gain practical computer knowledge unless they are lucky to have well-to-do relatives to provide systems for them. Knowing that the school could not do anything about it and l could not be able to assist all the students, I decided to start off an ICT club. I believe that if l can make a change for a few people, these people can make a change for others.
In starting the club, l knew that I had to personally provide the necessary things to start off. I acquired some old desktop systems from a company, and with an old generator set I powered them for training. The students were able to enter countless competitions and have won awards for websites created and ICT competitions. Some final year students decided to research topics for their final exams and a project they are into. They have to do that in their free time (weekends), so they put money together, hire a laptop and a generator and l provide the internet modem for them to use. During their free classes, they teach their fellow students. The enthusiasm on these children’s faces is what pushes me to take pictures of them at work.
I keep pictures of all their efforts and what they do. When l saw the competition, l was more interested in telling the story of how children from non-technological developed schools can rise to challenge their fellow students from western countries. Those students in the pictures have now graduated from secondary school. One of them is studying Computer Science in the university, another is on scholarship in Ukraine studying ICT/Computer Engineering, another is studying mass communication while the last is on part-time study and gives computer training lessons to students in the school ICT club.
Photography is one area of study l started with the present students l have in the club. With the high rate of unemployment in the country, I started teaching the students a skilled course they can fall back on when all fails or use as a money-making hobby. l taught them photo-editing, so they can have an edge over the local photographers. Ironically, my challenge in the area of photography teaching is availability of digital cameras.
A lot of parents and guardians whose children were fortunate to take ICT lessons through this method have been challenged to obtain a desktop system for their children. I initiated an easy payment plan for parents and a loan group for parents to obtain used desktop computers for their children’s use. I have also incorporated some teachers, by showing them that for teachers who have a pc or laptop, a child you take time to teach today will tomorrow be your child or grandchild’s teacher.
Finally, I am trying to find a way solar energy can be obtained. If it is successful with the club l will introduce it to the school to use for ICT training of students. At least if it is successful, the problem of obtaining power for systems will be defeated.
Vera Ada Obiakor
What an inspiring story!