LEADERSHIP AND LIFE SKILLS: THE HOPE OF THE UNDERSERVED CHILD
No fewer than 15 select secondary schools across three (3) cities, namely; Lagos, Enugu and Akwa Ibom in Nigeria has benefitted from the iLEAD programme.
Emerging pieces of evidence from our interventions and interactions with young people suggest that non-cognitive skills play a key role in the development of a child. The iLEAD Programme evidently proves this fact, as many of the beneficiaries are constantly experiencing a change of mindset and yielded series of personal decisions related to their ambitions and aspirations. Most of them have taken deliberate steps to create a better future against the harsh realities of their economic background.
For some of them, this means as little as purchasing an alarm wrist-watch (as of the case of Hygenus; a student of Opebi Senior Grammar School), which he believes will instil the values of being timely. Prior to attending the programme, he never took life seriously. He didn't have an ambition, was carefree and would wake up very late on school days, but this has changed now.
Efe, on the other hand, is a very ambitious student who now wants to study Law in the university and eventually become a lecturer. He intends to venture into lecturing with the sole aim of volunteering his skills and knowledge to assist the underserved child. According to him, he has started taking steps to do this now by volunteering to contribute to a cleaner environment by mobilizing people to clean the community where they live.
The most humbling of these stories are from Faith; a 15-year-old in one of the schools in Akwa Ibom State. Her story stands out as she demonstrates a change of mindset and aspirations with the help of the leadership and life skills curriculum. One very remarkable outcome is the total switch in her academics from very poor to becoming an “A” student.
Faith’s parents are separated but live with her father who thinks less of her abilities and considers her going to school a waste of time due to her low grades. In junior secondary school Faith never had an A, and with a cumulative average grade of 45% her father thinks she will end up like her older sisters. Her teacher also revealed that Faith had very low self-esteem before taking the iLEAD programme and would isolate herself from peers. She wanted to just get married after secondary school so she could be free from her father.
However, iLEAD changed all of that!
After joining the leadership and life skills programme, Faith’s cumulative average has risen to 65%, and had four A’s on her last exam. Faith scored an A on her report sheet for the first time in her secondary school trajectory. Faith who is the last born of 5 siblings, tells us she has learnt to remain self-confident and positive minded. We were particularly stunned by the confidence in the tone of her voice when she said;
‘…it doesn’t matter what my father thinks of me, I know who I am, I am intelligent and I will make an impact in my community, and in Nigeria, because I am the flower that changes the odour of society’.
Asides improvements in academic outcomes and raising aspirations, one key lesson from this is that life skills empower girls to recognise how gender relations shape their interactions with society broadly and how to respond to these dynamics.
Leadership and life skills exceed the provision of or information. These attitudes transform them into positive change agents who are transilient – leaping above structural social conditions – rather than just coping with existing limitations.