COVID-19: UNICEF’s community educators lead charge in continuous learning

UNICEF’s community educators in north-east Nigeria are modelling home lessons and hygiene practices to families and neighbours

Folashade Adebayo
UNICEF facilitator teaching children in Borno State
UNICEF Nigeria/2020
27 April 2020

Working from home is a new concept for Rosina Amos, a UNICEF community educator in Maiduguri, Borno State, in north-east Nigeria. 

But the mother of two has found a way to make the experience meaningful and rewarding. 

Every morning, just after breakfast is served, Rosina gives her children and younger relatives English language lessons. 

“Coronavirus has forced the world to take a holiday. Schools are closed and many people, including parents like me, are working from home. 

Like Rosina, Josephine Dampo, who is also a UNICEF-supported community educator, is experimenting with offering children English language lessons at home now. But she says there is a pattern to her home lessons. 

“We always start home lessons with handwashing with soap and running water, after which time classes start. Initially, we started with two-letter words. We are now on three-letter words and it is always fun because the children are all eager to respond to my questions. We also wash our hands with soap after the lesson ends,” she said.

UNICEF facilitator teaching children in Borno State
UNICEF Nigeria/2020
Josephine Dampo, a UNICEF-supported community educator, giving her children English language lessons at home.

Rosina and Josephine both work with UNICEF in Borno State to improve access to quality education in a safe learning environment for children affected by conflict.  The work is challenging, especially since the conflict in north-east Nigeria has now gone on for more than ten years. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic and closure of schools, Rosina and Josephine, who were trained with support from Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and the European Union (EU), are modeling for how to ensure continuous learning in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The training they underwent exposed them to the importance of home learning and how it can bridge study gaps, especially during protracted health crises. Using the Ebola outbreak as an example, the trainees learned how to prevent child abuse, early marriage, teenage pregnancy and practicing good hygiene  in their homes and communities. 

Olayinka Adeseja, who also works with UNICEF, is adopting the same approach. The father of three is working to ensure that his children do not lose the learning rhythm already established in their school.

UNICEF facilitator teaching a child in Borno State
UNICEF Nigeria/2020
Olayinka Adeseja, a UNICEF community educator, homeschooling his children in Borno State

“Schools are on break globally, but parents should not go on break. I am closer to my children now and I teach them various subjects. I am happy that many families in my community are doing so too.’’

- Olayinka, a community educator in Borno State.