Since 2010, the Millennium Village of Pampaida in northern Nigeria has made many positive developments including notable increases in primary school attendance. Throughout the cluster of villages, schools have also become a integral part of Pampaida’s development infrastructure and an invaluable resource for the community. With the cooperation between the community, local government and the MVP team, there has been expansion in the number of schools serving the school-going population. The success and coordination of these schools is largely dependent on individuals who volunteer as Community Education Workers (CEWs) throughout the cluster.
CEWs are young men and woman based in Pampaida who support and develop education systems. Each volunteer CEW is assigned to a specific settlement and school; it is the CEWs responsibility to help integrate schools into the community and vice versa. These volunteers promote Primary school attendance by encouraging parents to send their children to school. Additionally, in the event of a teacher shortage they support teachers in the classroom as aides or even step in as an educator. CEWs are trusted community role models, educators, and provide critical support to Pampaida’s growing education system. Most CEWs hold a Senior Secondary Certificate in Education (SSCE), which is a post-secondary qualification for working as an education volunteer. In order to reach a full level of professionalization the CEWs of Pampaida require a National Certificate of Education (NCE) as mandated by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Education Coordinators of the Millennium Village project have embarked on an initiative to support CEWs and help them get national certification. Twenty of the 24 CEWs based in Pampaida are set to be trained through the National Teachers Institute and Federal College of Education for NCE training over a four-year distance-learning program. Distance learning will allow CEWs to maintain their duties throughout the Pampaida cluster while obtaining certification. The course leading towards the teacher professional development will include weekend training classes, school fees, books and training materials. The 20 CEWs training with the National Teachers Institute have already started their studies, and look forward to placement by the Ikara Local Education Authority for possible employment after certification is achieved. Since the CEWs are from the same area, they know the children attending the schools very well. This can help them make a closer connection with the children and ensure that they attend school everyday. The Education Coordinators of the MVP are proud to support the CEWs by further developing their skill base. The volunteer CEWs have made an invaluable contribution to the success of Pampaida, and will continue to do so throughout their professionalization.