Supporting Education during COVID-19
Photo by Sarah Aderemi
In Nigeria, schools depend on tuition in order to pay salaries for teachers and staff. When COVID-19 hit and many parents lost their sources of income, many teachers throughout the country started working without pay.
“Schools were trying to figure out how to respond to the needs of their students, parents, and staff,” said Sarah Aderemi, a Resonate Global Mission missionary who works with the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) in Nigeria.
Seeing the many challenges in their community of Christian schools, Aderemi and her ACSI colleague Mr. Jide gathered educators together online for a time of learning, sharing, and support that has enabled schools to thrive during this challenging season. They launched a free webinar series for educators called “Innovation in Christian Education: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
“Our ACSI Nigeria schools have been hit hard due to the pandemic,” said Aderemi, who coordinates ACSI’s Paths to School Improvement program—a program that equips and empowers educators to provide quality education from a biblical perspective.
In a time when people could not meet in person, the webinars made it possible for educators to gather together and learn from one another. The webinars were a source of support and time for fostering ideas on how schools could overcome challenges and continue to support students, parents, and staff in their communities.
“I think the most valuable lesson from the webinars that all of our schools gained was that there is not one way to do things,” said Aderemi. “So many of our schools responded in very different ways to their students in the context that worked for them.”
During one webinar, one founder of a school in a low-income community spoke about rising above the challenges of COVID-19 by starting a garden to help feed staff members. The school also made and sold groundnut oil to provide some income.
“It was an extremely encouraging session for many ACSI schools,” said Aderemi.“It showed our schools that even as a low-income school, there are ways to find creative solutions to raise funds and resources for your staff.”
Another speaker shared about surveying each family’s access to technology and internet and then responding to each family’s unique needs. Several educators organized talent shows over video call to help encourage students and keep them motivated.
“We even had a panel of students come together from five different schools from different states share their own experiences while learning from home,” said Aderemi.
Where COVID-19 caused many teachers and school administrators to feel stuck, the webinars fostered creativity and innovation. Where the pandemic caused challenges for schools, the webinars helped provide encouragement and hope.
And educators are witnessing God’s faithfulness.
Michael Ogbu, a leader of a school in Nigeria and one of ACSI’s trainers for the Paths to School to Improvement program, shared that his school was just two years old when COVID-19 hit. He was afraid that the school wouldn’t be able to survive the challenges of the pandemic.
“For now, we are a school that runs from hand to mouth seeing that we are still trying to find our footing,” said Michael. “But God has been faithful.”
Through prayer, Michael felt convicted to develop a unique response plan for his school. They’ve been able to stay connected to parents and students and partially pay staff members, with plans to fully reimburse them in the future.
“We are grateful for the stories of some of our schools who have shared how God has provided for them during this period,” said Aderemi. “It has been a blessing to see different school owners and educators within our network and outside of our network share how their schools are responding to the pandemic.”