Thought I would record more about my job with ESSPIN at Oro Teacher Training College. Oro is just over an hour's travel by bus from Ilorin. I am supposed to be here three days a week with the specific task of redeveloping the Education Resource Centre (ERC).
Bearing in mind that this is a teacher training college, there seems very little concept of the need to use visual aids as a part of lecture/lesson delivery. A complex of about ten rooms has become available, formerly a library, but now destined to become the ERC for the College and surrounding schools. This is all part of the Honourable Commissioner's plan for Oro to become a Centre of Excellence for the State and an example for other States in Nigeria to emulate. The ERC will be a facility where lecturers and students can get instruction and advice on how to make their own visual aids for incorporation into their lecture plans and teaching practice. There is a slight problem with this from my point of view, as most of the lecture plans that I have seen give little information as to how the lecture will be taught and indeed, what the objectives are, so I cannot see where a visual aid could be used - unless I rewrite the lecture plan according to what I think it will be about - which I cannot do for political reasons.
So, in order to make a start I have presented a cunning plan for the complete refurbishment of the ERC complex together with a wish-list of equipment and materials. I have been met with surprised but interested looks from those at the College to whom I have shared my draft proposals, with some suggesting " He'll be lucky!" Anyhow, the Director of Works seems to have accepted my plan wholesale and tells me the money for it will be released next week, which, if it happens, will surely go down as a momentous day in the annals of the College. I have told the management that I would like it to be up and running by September - I'm sure they think I am bonkers! They did look slightly perturbed at my deadline but didn't indicate it would be a particular problem. We shall have to wait and see.
Getting the centre set up is one thing; getting people to use it is quite another, so my next task is to set up a training programme for those who will be running the centre and another for the staff who will be using it.
Herein lies another challenge: Some staff regard the College as a facility for providing employment, not necessarily for training teachers. They are frequently less than enthusiastic over their job and, from what I have seen, some have very shaky subject knowledge and even shakier ideas on teaching methodologies. They are training teachers in the way they themselves were trained and I have been told that many of those being trained don't actually want to be teachers! Also, the lecturers have just called off a seven week strike action over pay - they would like some, and on time. Things have not been amicable on campus and I am not sure what mood they will be in when they eventually return to work. So - Centre of Excellence! - No pressure!!
Actually, I am looking forward to the challenge. It's nothing like anything I have ever done before and if I handle things the right way, it could be quite an exciting project. For the sake of the kids of Kwara I hope it all comes off.