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“Matthew’s story – education on the street”
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“Matthew’s story – education on the street”

Musa TemidayoPrimary school is free in Nigeria, but as Musa Temidayo, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Nigeria writes, other factors can push children to give up their dreams and find a living on the streets.  

In Lagos, Nigeria, public primary education is free, as it is in some other states in the country, yet you meet children who are out-of-school.

The reason can be just because they do not want to go to school, or because those children developed a behaviour that the school walls cannot ‘accommodate’. Coupled with these factors, the majority of these children are from families where the scourge of poverty and the nonchalant attitude of their parents accorded them such out-of-school status.

Some of these children end up taking vocational training in an informal setting; some others will keep roaming the streets of Lagos until they become ‘area boys’. Some other percentage of these children end up being bus conductors and while others get ‘saved’ and return back to school, this does do not happen in all the cases I have seen.

I met Matthew, who is 14 or 15 years of age. It took him almost 30 minutes to spell his name. He cannot even say his precise date of birth and will need his mother’s help to know when next he is going to celebrate his birthday.

“…I cannot remember the last time I celebrated a birthday,” he said while conversing with me in a local dialect. He cannot successfully speak a sentence in English.

Matthew told me he left primary school when he was in primary 5, and to date he has experienced and been exposed to various social vices. When I asked him why he left school, he said in Yoruba language “mi o mo, nitori pe mo ma nsa ni school” meaning “I do not know, because I do run away from school.” I asked further why, and he narrated how he often avoided classes to play games in the street while school was in session, also how he would just leave school to ‘take a stroll’ on the street or to go wash cars for people.

After 30 minutes of talking to Matthew, I asked him if he still want to go back to school. He said yes, but feared his parent will not support his education. He also told me about how his dream of travelling to South Africa was shattered just because he could not spell his name right at the embassy and could not answer some questions.

Matthew is currently learning vulcanizing as a vocational trade in the street of Lagos. He has spent close to seven years at his workshop. Yet he said his childhood dream was to either be a lawyer, doctor or a soldier.

Photo: courtesy of Musa Temidayo

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About me: I am from Nigeria, currently studying International Relations at Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife Osun state. I’m also the Editor-in- Chief for the department. I love travelling and singing, and have  interest in Management and Developmental Issues.

Aside from studying, I work as as the Chairman of my department’s magazine. I want to be a Manager-Human Resource & Conflict Management, and also hope to serve in the Nigerian foreign service.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response.
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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