Free and quality education for the underrepresented children population

Esther J

Resolving the age long problem of Nigeria’s national insecurity issue and out of school children will not be solved  through giving ‘handouts’ to many of the underrepresented population.  A sustainable solution will evolve as Nigerians empower them with quality education and skills

The birth of Theo by Lisa

Damilola Feyide (now 29 years) was 22 when she came to Nigeria from Britain to observe her one-year compulsory national service in 2017. She planned to return after the service but in the course of her service, her constant encounter with street children, either begging or hawking, triggered a compassion in her help to reduce the problem.

Damiloa Feyide in the school

Damilola started giving money every day to as many as she met on the road. But over time, she discovered this was not sustainable. So she started gathering as many of the kids in groups to teach them school subjects and creative arts. “My initial concern was to help reduce insecurity and ignorance among these underserved children population” Damilola said.

The idea bloomed into having different groups of children in Mushin, Makoko, Ikeja and she later approached the Government   Children Reformation/Welfare Centre in Oregun Ikeja for a space, which was granted. “At this level, I had to hire other people who I was paying from my pocket. We also build the children creative skills through our painting, Arts, cooking classes just to make them more productive” Damilola said

2020 as turning point

In 2020 during the Covid-19, having run the project for about three years without sustainable structure, it became obvious and compulsory to safeguard the lives of these underserved children from broken homes, some of whom did not have a home or came from dysfunctional families without hope of education. ”I saw the need to give quality and free education to them as this will give them hope,” Damilola said.

Ongoing class session in Theo by Lisa

“So we spoke to the children, looked for their guardians to seek permission to have them in a structured junior high school. The Academy has gotten government approval to operate. So Theo by LISA academy was birthed to provide qualitative and free education for mostly underserved and underrepresented who cannot afford any fee at all.”

Ab teacher  in one of the classrooms

Theo by LISA Academy now has a Junior secondary school with a section called ‘prem’’which admits and prepare those who have been out of school, could hardly write or speak English and prepare them for admission into Junior secondary school classes in addition to others who are sitting for entrance exam to gain admission to the school.

Unique things about Theo by LISA Academy

The school is focused on giving free and quality all round education to only the underserved and underrepresented population who would never have had the opportunity. “My concern daily is to reduce the level of insecurity these underserved children are exposed to as well as the damage an idle hand can do to the society.

Some of the teachers with Damilola Feyide, the proprietor

“We knew most of them could not afford going to school. So we provide free and quality education, school uniforms, and recommended textbooks at no cost to our students. Besides free and quality education, we also serve the children free and rich meals daily,” Damilola disclosed.

Apart from quality academic vision, the school also has a creative academy hub, which every student must be part of every Saturday. Through the hub, the students are taught painting, coding, cooking, digital skills, graphic arts, Dance(barley) etc.

Art  Exhibition by School creative Acadeny hub’s students

“Through our creative hub/academy’s activities, we have helped to bring out the creative abilities of some of the students and in fact we recently held an exhibition with the support from our board of trustees. All-round developmental cycles of our students are paramount. We do not just want to produce sound academic products who are neither useful to themselves nor to the society at large. The school prioritises the full development of human potentials.”

Impact Stories

Though still at the commencement level of the vision, the school has been given government approval to conduct Junior secondary examination exams which will allow our students to move to senior secondary school.

“Our students will from next week write national Examination Council Exams for Junior high school. From next session, Theo by LISA senior secondary Academy will also start admitting students. Our present junior class three students will form the bulk of these.

“To give real exposure to our students, we organize excursions for them which we believe will help better understanding of their environment as well as to see possibilities they can achieve despite coming from poor or dysfunctional backgrounds.”

To its credit, the school has recorded psychological and emotional changes in our students considering that most of them do not have access to education before or were out of school without the ability to read, speak or write English. Aside from these, the emotional and relationship skills of most of our students had increased significantly.

The Academy paid attention to this with its specialised and quality team: teachers, counsellors, IT. Works, as it tried hard enough in producing stable children.

Art works/ designs by the students

The creative Academy hub director, Ayodeji said he is happy to see gradual changes happening to the students. “The transformation seems magical to some of their guardians as well. So happy to be part of this and happy that the founder developed such a vision for the underserved and underrepresented children population”.

Challenges and the future plan

Despite the progress made, the school can do more. We plan to being able to admit about 300 students with the vision to provide free and qualitative education.

Having a free boarding facility will give the school an opportunity to monitor the students’ and impact their lives every minute. Theo by Lisa’s students still go to their various homes after school hours, but some of these homes are not decent enough. We plan to have free boarding facility in the future, For now the school provides free quality education, skills acquisition, school uniform, recommended textbooks, writing materials for free as well as a meal per day.

The present rented space the school has is also small compared with the its vision. As the school prepares to establish a secondary arm, it is obvious there will be a need to seek more space, increase the capacity of all paid staff who are daily involved in the project.

The school continuously reviews and improves its curriculum to meet global standards.

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