23 year old January Urban Wheduto is one of the founders of Divine Nursery and Primary School, House on Lagoon, Makoko Water Front, Yaba, Lagos, where about 147 pupils are getting tuition-free education. The School is a refuge for orphans and other less-privileged children in the slums of Makoko.
“In Makoko, 70% of children are out of school. So, in 2019 after I wrote the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) exam, I decided to set up this place with the help of 4 friends and my parents especially my mother, Mrs. Janet Wheduto, who supports us with resources from her fish and firewood business.
“We set up this place because most parents here are mostly concerned with getting their daily subsistence from fishing, which is the major occupation. For the pupils, life on the water is all they know; going inland to government built schools is difficult.
“So, in order to keep the children away from crime, we gather and teach them on daily basis. However, since the school is not registered, we get most of our teaching materials from friends in the city. Presently, we have up to 147 pupils.
“We teach in English and French. This is because most of them are from Egun part of Badagry, Lagos, where French is the major language. Some parents prefer their wards learn only French. That is why we have two classes: those that learn English and French, and those that learn only French.
“The home offers free education. Since we started, no money has been collected from any of the pupils. However, pupils still find it difficult to come to school. So what we did was to hire 6 canoes to pick them to and from school.
“We don’t pay ourselves any salary, as founders who teach the children. The only people we pay are the two English Language teachers. One is paid N15,000 monthly, the other N12,000. Last year one of my friends gave us N50,000, which we used to make school uniforms. And only half of the pupils currently have uniforms.
“We need two more canoes to bring pupils to and from school. We also need more uniforms, books, pencils, pens, furniture, and more space.
“We are so happy that our first set of primary 6 pupils will soon be writing the Common Entrance Examination into secondary school. Thereafter, we will look for schools for them, though we are working to also register our school with the appropriate authorities”