Implemented as an after-school program, Project Change was an analytical literacy and advocacy project intended to bolster basic literacy interventions as well as provide additional critical learning opportunities to students from under-resourced schools. The project was initiated under the auspices of the REACHOUT-56-81-06 FOUNDATION through the 1956 ReachOut International Fellowship.
Project Change sought to develop the following competencies among innercity urban youth:
Analytic Reading Ability
Creative Critical Thinking
Literacy and Education in Nigeria
Nigeria’s population of ~175 million is nearly one-quarter of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population. Approximately 64% of this population is under the age of 24. This massive youth population is a tremendous economic resource. To capitalize on the benefits of this country’s demographics, it is essential to provide formal and informal learning platforms for building skilled human capital to drive productivity, technical innovation and social change. In 2006, UNESCO listed Nigeria as one of the nine countries with the largest population of illiterate people thus indicating an illiteracy crisis.
Many organizations have responded to Nigeria’s illiteracy crisis with the development of basic literacy programs and interventions to increase investment in education at the primary/basic level. However, newer studies indicate that in particular contexts, investment in higher level education does also provide significant returns on education investment. Nigeria’s particular context, including its massive youth population between ages 15-24 fulfills many of the criteria for successful secondary and tertiary investment. Indeed, scholars’ arguments that successful educational interventions deal well with specific contexts rather than offering models that can be copied indicate that educational interventions need to be developed with intimate reference to the contexts in which they are to be applied.
Why Implement Project Change?
There were few programs dedicated to bolstering literacy and numeracy at the secondary and tertiary levels and even fewer dedicated to providing access to the critical texts and opportunities that quality education must support. Consequently, Project Change intervened at a critical point, offering a humanities-based, after-school program to youth aged 15- 20. It merged higher level literacy and numeracy training with community activism in order to augment their ongoing secondary education.
Financial Literacy Module
We partnered with a couple of organizations and developed a comprehensive curriculum to help us do so. The financial literacy segment entailed a combination of JA’s More Than Money and It’s My Business curricula and provided participants with training on earning, spending, sharing and saving money. The It’s My Business curriculum’s strong focus on social studies, reading and writing skills also provided opportunities to develop reading ability, improve problem-solving capacities and increase awareness of social issues as participants enhanced their own capacities for productive engagement within the community. This program ran from November through to December and will culminated in participants’ initial proposals for their own Projects for Change.
Leadership and Civics Module
In partnership with LEAP Africa volunteers, program participants engaged in a leadership and civics module that was supplemented with education on the Nigerian budget and constitution.
Workshop in the Humanities
Focusing on a regional cultural immersion curriculum, the workshop in the Humanities exposed participants local and regional creatives, thought leaders and change-makers with intent to help students develop ambitions that will benefit both their local and global communities. Each workshop session was based on one of four selected themes for the year and incorporated games, discussion sessions with invited speakers. The workshop sessions then culminated in a recital/ presentation at the end of each quarter.
The projects from the workshop provided a critical means of expression while challenging students to explore their own interests in new ways. It enabled them to develop their communication and problem-solving skills whilst increasing their self-confidence and social and emotional awareness through introspection and artistic production.
Students reflected on their journey over the course of the program and put short videos together each week. A collage of excerpts from these videos were screened as part of a final project exhibition.
A chapbook is a small, inexpensive, short book or pamphlet containing poems, ballads, stories or illustrations. Students designed and populated a chapbook from conception to print. The process involved familiarizing participants with chapbooks, encouraging the generation of their own material for the chapbooks as well as assisting in the editing and production process through workshops.
Projects for Change
The Projects for Change was an initiative whereby in conjunction with a number of capacity-building foundations such as Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) and LEAP Africa, students were supervised through the initiation and development of small social action projects for undeserved communities. These small projects are intended to buttress the program’s objectives of developing social perspective and individual agency. Each child was given ₦10,000 and worked alone or in teams of up to three people. At the end of January 2015, each student or team presented a comprehensive proposal for their social action project which they began implementing in February 2015. The Project Change blog is updated to feature project proposals and progress updates from February 2015.