Ikuzeh is a relatively isolated rural community in Rimau District. The amenities are few, with no electricity, no running water, no functional institutional health care in their community. The most visible amenity, the school, has a School-Based Management Committee which works to improve the educational situation, but it is still far from being a model school. Yet children from the school, if they are to live in the modern world, need to have access to better education. It is for this reason that the Livingkindness Foundation, founded by Jan Philipps, has assisted by supporting the Ikuzeh Livingkindness Centre for Learning. The Centre was officially opened in January of 2016. It has 20 computers where children from the nearby communities can come to learn to use the computer and learn to read English, a pre-requisite for them to do well in secondary school. The children learn the basics of the computer quickly as their teacher, Livinus, attests.
A second aspect of the Livingkindness Centre for Learning is the program for youth to teach them improved methods of agriculture. A select number of students have enrolled in the course, and work on the local farm as well as have lessons on farming and use of the computer. The Centre now boasts of planted crops as well as the beginning of a poultry and piggery. The practical aspect of the teaching will also contribute to the sustenance of the Centre as crops grown and animals reared will not only assist the students to learn new ideas, but will also be instrumental in bringing in income to sustain the Centre.
I understand this Centre is in a very rural area. Why would you choose to have computers there?
Yes, the site is very rural. However, the world is moving forward, and one of the means of advancement is electronic media. Not all the children of the area will live forever in the rural community; they will move on to urban areas, possibly seek to attend university, etc. They need to be able to move with their peers in any field.
A second reason is this. Today farming has become more sophisticated. Many of the rural people have small farms. For them to become more competitive and gain more income for their livelihood, they need to be able to use their farms more productively. The internet can bring them not only new ideas about farming but also information about the inputs available, the current markets, etc. The students in the farming aspect of the Centre for Learning are guided how to use the computer to this end.
Do you have electricity at the Centre for Learning?
No, we do not, but we have solar panels that power the computers as well as lights. There is no connection to the national power grid anywhere close to where the Centre is located. Also, we do not yet have internet connectivity because of the isolated nature of the Centre, but that is one of our hopes for the near future. Now what the students can do with what they learn is to go to the town (about 10 km away) and use the internet there. We are able also to download information onto the computers for more learning.
You speak about children and then about youths using the computers but you have only 20 computers. How can they all use the computers?
The children attend their local primary school in the morning so they are not free to use the Centre for Learning. Their time there is in the afternoons. The youth are not attending school, most have finished secondary school, some are waiting and hoping for admission to a higher centre of learning. But in the meantime they can continue to grow through learning how to be better farmers because such learning is never wasted.
I still don’t understand why you have to have computers. Are they not expensive?
Yes, they are. However, there is another reason we have chosen to make computers available. We can call it a long term goal. Most of the children speak little if any English. But to get along in modern society, and that holds true in Nigeria, it is important to speak and read English. Children (as well as some adults) are fascinated by electronics, and as they learn how to operate the computer, and they open some programs, they are being led into English. Our hope is that they will be enchanted by stories and so enter into the world of imagination, of stories, of knowledge, of creativity, i.e., into a world much broader than their small community.