One of our Missionary partners, a small-framed man, with sunken cheeks and grey highlights streaked through thick black hair, asks me a question about thirty minutes before our arrival. Our only other interaction had been a quick acknowledging nod shared 2 hours ago. He asked slowly as if trying to read my mind simultaneously as he popped up the question. Why Ayegun and Moka of all places? I knew he understood my reason but wanted to hear it again probably to ascertain the reason I found rural communities a home of untapped potentials.
We had driven for five hours, starting from Oretu and Arikanki village, the community where Bramble Network currently runs her model learning centre, and we travelled through Iseyin, and other small towns. Several kilometres down a dusty bad road with large cows gallantly roaming the road and crossing like the roads were actually meant for them; suddenly we were out of network connection.
MTN had just sent me a message, “welcome to Benin republic”. How on earth am I in the Benin republic? We were headed towards Ayegun, a village at the outskirts of Oyo State, Nigeria. Unknown to me before then was the fact that Ayegun directly borders Benin republic, and even though the community is in Nigeria, access to Nigerian network providers and connections are completely absent.
On one side, there is Ayegun, a big community with just two schools – a public primary school and a low-cost private school run by the mission group- Peace Missions. On the other side is Moka, a much bigger community, but there was no school in sight. The journey from Ayegun in Oyo state to Moka in Benin Republic only involves about 35 minutes of motorcycle ride BUT requires some huge courage to cross a river dividing the two countries. It is difficult to have children go back and forth in these areas.
The lack of access to good schools in these communities is a major challenge. While some parents are interested in educating their children, the options are limited. For those fortunate enough to attend school, the quality of education is often very poor.
But there is hope. Mission groups like the Peace Foundation, which runs the low-cost school in Ayegun, and Bramble Network, which is collaborating with the mission group to train their teachers, are working hard to make education accessible to those who need it the most. This adds to the efforts being made by the government to improve access to education in rural communities. There is still a long way to go, but with continued efforts and support, we can create a brighter future for these communities.
As I crossed back over the river into Ayegun, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunities that I have had in my life, particularly when it comes to education. We must remember that we are all connected and that our success and growth as individuals and communities are intertwined. Let us continue to work together to improve access to education for all, so that communities like Ayegun and Moka can thrive and reach their full potential. For us at Bramble Network, this is another opportunity to spread the impact of our work in these communities.
We all need to approach Rural Education with a deep sense of urgency.
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