With all it achieved last year, the Concerned Parents and Educators Initiative (CPE), a Facebook group of school owners, teachers, parents and other lovers of education plans to push its influence further by pursuing advocacy and reforms in the Nigerian education space this year.
Founder of the group, Mrs Yinka Ogunde said in an interview that last year the CPE raised millions of naira in cash and kind that was used to provide mobility equipment for some cerebral palsy children; support about 50 families, pay fees in low-cost schools; reward creativity in teachers through the short story challenge; connect people in need with those that had to give, among others.
She added that through CPE members’ generosity, children of widows got scholarship, examination fees got paid, teachers got trained, and affluent schools gave supplies to smaller schools.
“We never thought when we started we would make this kind of impact. To us we just simply wanted to provide a platform for discussion between parents, school owners and stakeholders in the education sector. But it has gone beyond our initial brief substantially to what it is today,” she said.
This year, Mrs. Ogunde said the group which has over 112,000 members – with more than 90,000 of them in Nigeria – would get more coordinated in its approach with the aim of deepening its impact on society. Tagged the Year 2020 Advocacy for Qualitative Education, members of the group would be expected to raise issues of education in their areas of influence, including places of worship, and advocate for a call to action.
To this end, Mrs. Ogunde said CPE had identified volunteers in various states who would drive conversations towards critical areas of need in the education sector. The CPE in various states are already planning meetings for this week in Ibadan, Kano and Kaduna- starting from today (Thursday) that would identify areas of needs to focus on ahead of its advocacy month – February.
Throughout February, Mrs Ogunde said CPE members would engage people in churches, mosques, clubs and other places highlighting the problems in the education sector and calling for action in such areas.
“February is our education transformation month – where everyone on CPE would be talking about education. It is something that would require a seven minute pitch that all we will be saying is the same thing and asking what can be done about the state of education. We will also be writing to corporate organisations to ask them what they are doing,” she said.
Mrs. Ogunde said a key lesson she has learnt from running CPE with other administrators was that impact can be achieved regardless of government.
She said: “When we go out to all these schools, they don’t believe we are private individuals; they keep on thanking government for the support. So, we say we are not government; this is not your local government chairman; it is people just like you.
It shows that people can actually do what government is supposed to do and invariably make the government to do its work. That is why we are just determined that we will not keep quiet about it but call their attention.”