Making a Difference (I)

In a world where there’s so much noise about making impact and being an agent of change, it could get all so muddled up one doesn’t even know where to start from. I interviewed this graduate of transport management and ex corps member who actually started from somewhere, his PPA(Place of Primary Assignment). Read up.

Can we meet you please?

My name is Ajayi Julius, a graduate of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology and I concluded my NYSC programme last year (2015).

Where were you posted for your NYSC programme?

I was initially posted to Adamawa State, I camped in Benue State because of the insurgency in the North East, I made a choice to redeploy and was eventually posted to Edo State

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Mr Ajayi

Was Edo State your personal choice in redeployment?

No, I chose Osun state but was posted to Edo, NYSC’s discretion

How did you take the news then?

Well, I took it with mixed feelings. I was a bit disappointed because I had my plans. On the other hand, I was excited, I got curious, I wanted to meet new people and get new experiences and look out for opportunities notwithstanding the geography of my place of deployment.

Tell us, what did you expect from service year in general?

I looked forward to adventure and opportunities. I predicted I’d be posted to a school for my primary assignment and that happened. With that in mind, I wanted to hone my skills in teaching and communication and above all to make positive impact on my prospective students.

Did you eventually get all these?

I’d score myself above average but all the same, I can say I had a fulfilling service year

Let’s talk about your PPA

OK. My PPA was a secondary school situated in a remote village in Etsako East L.G.A. of Edo state. The school is owned by the king of that village who claims he wants to bring education to the door mat of his people. The school had just three permanent teachers, all others were corps members. So they depended on corps members as main staff doing bulk of the work. I chose to teach social studies and civic education.
To say more on the community, fortune has it that the state governor decided to launch construction of a massive road project which extended there. This contributed significantly to the welfare of corps members as compared to the hardship faced in times past. However, the village is still very far from town and the cost of living in the community is high compared to the stipend we were given each month

What’s the name of the village, the school..?

The school is named Jebamoh Unisecondary School, Itsukwi, Edo State

What would you say was your own contribution to the development of the school during your service year?
When I got to the village, I was able to identify a major problem with the students in the community. Let me quickly add that my community is the administrative head of a clan including 3 villages that are neighbours. In the 3 villages, there are four secondary schools. So I discovered a major problem which is the unwillingness of students to come to school and even those who come do not understand why they are in school. So I came to understand that any contribution I have to make other than my major assignment which is teaching has to go beyond my school

So what did you do?

As a result of the discovery, I threw myself out to the challenge. This was done by identifying something enticing to create awareness and orientation for the students. With the help of friends from whom I borrowed ideas, I developed a story about the importance of education and made graphical illustrations on power point. I also carried out research as to how I can get the students motivated.
Prior to these, I forwarded a project proposal to the NYSC and it was approved. We launched the campaign across the three villages, we also organized an essay competition where the 6 most impressive essay writers were presented gifts and the overall winner got a part payment for her school fees. We had a grand finale of the events where many concerned personalities in the villages were present. We also gave out incentives to all participants as a way to motivate them. In all, I believe a single effort cannot be enough to make the change but I do know my little contribution did something.
And lastly the students were motivated to use their God given potentials. An highlight for all the events was a very talented boy whose gifting was discovered and appreciated during the grand finale, he also got a part payment for his tuition.

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Talent discovered.
“… Samuel did not use paints, neither does he have money for brush. My breath was taken when he showed me the red and yellow stones and charcoal he usesfor his art works. He didn’t seem impressed with himself the way I did… ”

Wow! That’s a mouthful. That’s incredibly wonderful. However, what would you say were the challenges you faced in this noble task?

The first challenge that got me scared was finance. I couldn’t get a sponsor. I met a local politician who promised help and backed out few days to the programme.
Secondly, the timing created much hassle. I was given a deadline initially only to be told that I must complete the project a week before the initial deadline. Students were just resuming and it was difficult to mobilize them but as Martin Luther King jnr said, the time is always right for what is right. So I went ahead notwithstanding and the turnout was overwhelming.

And would you say the exercise was rewarding both for the students and you?

Well, the students had a shift in paradigm. I met with few among them after the programme and I got feedbacks. I’d say the good feedback is my own reward. I also got recognition by the king of the community.

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Certificate of Recognition

A word of advice for Corps members like you who seek to make positive impact in their PPA

I’d like to say nothing good comes easy and no change comes without restrictions but the little effort each person can make can go a long way to create the desired change and it will be worth it all the way. The change some people will make may not come with pomp and pageantry but what counts are the big and not-so-big impacts each one can make.

It’s been nice talking to you Mr Ajayi

Thank you for having me.

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