Our GDPR Compliance

Over the years I may have collected some of your personal data and used some personal information while interviewing or writing about people on my blog.

Today, I am aligning my blog and data policy to reflect and meet up with today’s deadline which requires  organizations to incorporate the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation ( GDPR).

The GDPR which dictates how organizations are to handle online business with Europeans and/or EU residents.

To read more about it, please click on this link to the full General Data Protection Regulation.to our website.

Thanks  and have a fantastic weekend!

Nurturing child literacy beyond the classroom

A common saying says a student cannot be better than his teacher. Needless to say, there is need for an overhaul of the education system whether we like it or not.

In December 2017, the government of Kaduna State sacked 21,780 teachers after they failed at Math and literacy competency tests.

The issue of incompetent teachers is not common to Kaduna State alone. A recent statement by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria says that up to 300,000 of the 700,000 teachers in Nigerian schools are not qualified to teach.

The Educational Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) has also spent years scrutinizing Nigeria’s Educational system and has proffered solutions. It said there was need to develop ‘effective planning, financing and delivery systems to improve the quality of schools, teaching and Learning in Enugu, Kano, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kwara and Lagos.

Imagine then, the quality of students that leave the primary school system each year. A common saying says a student cannot be better than his teacher.  Needless to say, there is need for an overhaul of the education system whether we like it or not.

Parental Role in a Child’s Education

While it is true that many of our teachers are responsible for grooming young minds and preparing them for society, it is important to note that education goes beyond the classroom; parents have a massive role to play. According to a BBC report a good education is ‘…a culmination of school, home tutoring, books and Television programs you’re exposed to.”

In essence, both the child who attends a public school and the one that attends a private school stand the chance of emerging into society with the same level of education as long as parents are supportive and ensure that they have an enabling environment.

A 2012 study published by, Brigham Young University North Carolina State University and the University of California-Irvine, made a similar statement. It said, ‘parental involvement is a more significant factor in a child’s academic performance than the qualities of the school itself.’ Researchers arrived at this conclusion after they evaluated data from over 10,000 US based students. They found that bonds between parents and children such as trust, open lines of communication as well as active engagement in a child’s academic life contributes largely to improving a child’s performance in school.

Television as an Educational tool.

The first episode of Sesame Street, a popular Children’s Television programme, aired in the United States in November 1969. It was initially targeted at 2 to 4 year olds but let’s admit that many an 11 year old has found it to be both educational entertaining. In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell says, that Sesame Street ‘also encouraged lower-income families to play a part in educating their children.”

The Private School Advantage

Tracey Enakeno, a Head Teacher at a Lagos based kindergarten school is passionate about teaching. After over ten years of working in the private school system she agrees that parental involvement is key. ‘I believe most parents underestimate the importance of their input to their children’s education and the overall power of partnership with schools.’ she explains. “A parent’s involvement gives the child the assurance that mommy and daddy thinks what they’re working on is important and as with every other area of their lives, they would always be there to guide them as much as they can.’

Not all parents are have the time for their kids, however. They rely on paid help as well as teachers to teach them or keep them busy after school hours. They can afford to do this for the same reasons they are able to send their children to private school: they have the resources to do so. It is a different story for Parents of pupils in government schools, unfortunately.


Limitation of The Homefront Economy

There is need to be realistic about how much time the parents and children from a low income family can dedicate towards education.

According to UNICEF, ‘Many (Nigerian) children do not attend school because their labour is needed to either help at home or to bring additional income into the family. These children who work suffer from fatigue, irregular attendance at school, lack of comprehension and motivation, improper socialisation…’

Similarly, the International Labour Organization estimates the number of working children under the age of 14 in Nigeria at 15 million. Many of these kids may be able to attend the usual 8 am to 2 pm classes but afterwards they are out contributing their own quota to their family’s income. What this means is this: it is difficult for them to participate in any of the afterschool tasks like doing their homework, reading or participating in extracurricular activities that make their more privileged counterparts better performers.

Levelling the playing field

There is need to remember that all is not lost.

Do government schools offer lower quality education? In most cases

Is there need to overhaul the educational system? Yes, please.

Is the child who attends a government school doomed, then? No he or she is not.

With active involvement that involves you sitting with your child to do homework, watching educational TV programmes, playing  games that improve their cognitive skills and social quotient he/she could be at par with his/her contemporaries at private schools. Tracey Enakeno throws more light on this, “We find more and more each day are parents dropping off their children sleeping and picking them up sleeping. I think teachers need to be appreciated more because they are a made to play both roles and in truth I think a true and passionate teacher actually doesn’t mind one bit.’

As for the quality of teachers, Aisha Biliya, a counsellor with the FCT State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), agrees that there are quack teachers within the educational system. Her recommendation for turning things around are simple:

‘Regular training for teachers, increased salaries, motivation and to cut down on the number of students in the classroom’

This Article was originally published on Pulse.

5 Martin Luther King quotes that bring a mental shift

Today is Dr Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday.

As you must know, he was an African American human rights leader, known especially for his ‘ I have a dream’ speech. A speech which has gradually come to fruition and is depicted in the shared amenities between blacks and whites- swimming pools, classrooms, public transportation, homes even. One of the greatest manifestations of his ‘dream’ is the election of Barack Obama, the son of an African immigrant as President of the United States. Dr King must have smiled in his grave on that fateful day in 2008. He had a dream, he spoke the dream and suffered for it but there’s a reason why he kept on:

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Here are more Dr King quotes to make you rethink:

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.

We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Happy birthday, Dr Martin Luther King! You’re without a doubt the sort of leader we want.Thanks for so much inspiration.

Five quotes that explain why leaders prefer blue and red ties

In high-stakes politics and business, there are only two colors of ties: red and blue-Robert Roy Brit

Dark blue makes us feel like the person wearing it is smart, together, and trustworthy. It’s also the number one color to wear to a job interview and the applicants for president know that. – Kristen Palana

There’s something about red that always comes back to strength and passion.”- Mark Woodman, Trend Analyst

Darker reds, such as a burgundy, can help build trust, while lighter red and pink ties can be more of a statement about your personal style and be associated with creativity. In the last decade, a pink tie can sometimes signal “solidarity with women,” added Woodman.- Alina Dizik

Conveying trust, stability and confidence a blue tie is perfect for client facing or public speaking.  That being said, it’s no coincidence that politicians and salesmen are frequently seen in blue ties. – Sonny Balani

The Leader Austria wants. You?

Photo Credit: CNN

The winds of change in the world of 21st Century politics bring with it a younger vibe into the system.

A 39 year old French man married to a woman twice his age becomes president, and New Zealand is buzzing with the news that Jacinda Ardern is poised to become its new prime minister. In Austria, early results suggest that 31 year old Sebastian Kurtz is Austria’s next chancellor and back in 2015 we’d thought Justin Trudeau was young! In retrospect, the world probably has him to thank for the new trend of voting in young leaders. I recall when Trudeau became Prime Minister, we could not believe it. He was 43 years old and was already at the helm of Canada’s affairs. Barack Obama was 48 when he became president in 2009, years younger than George W Bush. Little did we know that his was only the beginning…

I can’t help but route all these developments home.

Nigeria.

On the 26th of July 2017, the Nigerian National Assembly passed into law a bill that proposes 35 as the minimum age for the office of the president. Hottest news of the day without a doubt. It trended on Social Media for days! Now however I , like many other Nigerian, am wondering if we dare hope that 2019 will bring with it Fresh blood. I have seen posters of people and I am googling to know more about them: some I’m impressed by and others have made my heart whisper, ‘ You too?’

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased by the show of new faces but I’m also wondering what skills and changes they will bring to the table. A lot of manifestos are hinged on the candidate’s youth. But you see, it is not just youth we need. Even Chinua Achebe explained what is required for a youth to lead in any society. He said and I paraphrase, ‘When a child washes his hands well he can sit and eat with the elders.’

It’s about the manifesto and how much they commit to executing it once they get into power.

According to CNN, Sebastian is offering the people of Austria a crackdown on immigration and they want him for that. I can think of a number of things I want my future Nigerian President to focus on and trust me when I say it will not be a one point agenda!

Over the next few weeks I’ll write about the sort of person I will be casting my vote for. My vote is just one but it is very powerful. Just to be clear: I’m not voting for anyone who is above a certain age- we need fresh blood in our system but those coming in need to bring in the change Nigeria needs. What kind of leader do you want? Do tell!

Here’s how Wonder girl and other Super heroes are fighting Child Cancer…

When California based stay at home mom, Fiona Marshall, got the devastating news that her daughter’s 6 year old friend had died from Cancer, she did what many would not think to do. Fiona teamed up with some likeminded people to bring awareness to a cause she found was now close to her heart. With a selection of child Cancer survivors, their parents and her JoinWondergirl team, Fiona dressed Child Cancer survivors up as Superheroes and together they started an awareness Campaign that’s currently taking the US by storm.

She says,

The parents of these kids are so inspiring and work really hard to bring awareness to a cause that is overlooked, not just in the US but around the world.

To have a better perspective on this project and how it’s cause affects us, you need to reflect on these few Cancer facts :

  • Three in 10 children will lose their battle with the disease.
  • Cancer is the number one killer disease in children
  • 250,000+ new cases of cancer affect children under the age of 20 worldwide.

See how important this fight is? I had a chat with Fiona about the Wonder Girl project to mark Child Cancer Awareness month.

***

Amina: Who exactly is Fiona Marshall?

Fiona: I am a mother of two kids age 9 and 6. I am a pretty typical stay at home mom shuttling the kids around and helping with homework. However I have been touched by Childhood Cancer. At the age of 6 my daughter’s friend Jennifer was diagnosed with DIPG – a terminal upon diagnosis brain cancer. When she died , just 3.5 months after diagnosis it changed my life. So while my non-profit/event skills were a little rusty I jumped right in to help bring awareness to the cause. Little did I know I would meet so many other moms whose lives changed the day their child was diagnosed with cancer. One of those mom’s is Gabi, whose daughter is Wondergirl. Giselle was diagnosed at just 3 years old. The parents of these kids are so inspiring and work really hard to bring awareness to a cause that is overlooked, not just in the US but around the world. It was a pretty easy decision to jump in and help where ever I could.

Amina: You make it sound pretty casual but I suspect it’s quite a lot to jump into. I mean I have baby sat kids so I know that being a full time mom is no easy task. What sacrifices have you had to make to put this together?

Fiona: Personally – well I suppose quite a bit. Lots of late night meetings, phone calls, babysitting for kids (and even the dog) when we had a long day ahead of us, asking Tim (my husband) to come home early. Both Gabi and I also put our own money into the project. Other projects I had/have going on for sure took a backseat as well. It’s a hard balance being a stay-at-home mom sometimes juggling the things that you need to do and want to do with the kids, but also showing my kids that just because I don’t have a job doesn’t mean that I can’t work hard at something. Not to mention I hope my kids will learn about giving back to the community around them.

Amina: Wow! I see the need to give back to community and also to fight such a worthy cause. I am however impressed with how you’ve decided to create awareness around it. I just have to ask: What inspired the concept for this project?

Fiona: The project idea came about because of Giselle – who was named Wondergirl during treatment. After she finished her last dose of Chemo in Nov 2016 Gabi wanted to do a photo shoot of her as Wonder Woman. But why just do one kid when you can do many! So we started making a list of all the superheroes it would be fun to do (and of course there *may* be a movie coming out in November featuring a bunch of superheroes as well).

Amina: Movie sounds great. There is something about film that puts things in a more relatable manner. I for one got a better perspective on Autism when I watched the series, Parenthood so I really hope you guys push for the movie. So, our Wondergirl is Gisselle! Can you tell me a bit more about her and her experience?

Fiona: Giselle was 2 years old when she showed signs of being sick. After many trips to the doctor her mom, Gabi, didn’t listen to the doctor that told her it was just a virus and went for a second opinion at Stanford. Even though those doctors were fairly certain it was a virus as well they did run more tests. Sure enough she had leukaemia. The drugs that she took not only made her more sick but nearly killed her.

Sadly that does happen with many kids as the drugs for adults and kids are essentially the same but nothing is really the same between adults and kids. She pulled through and two years and 64 days later she took her last chemo pill. While she no longer has cancer, she now has major kidney issues due to the treatment. However the photo shoot brought a smile to her face! And all the other kids as well. It was really inspiring watching these kids knowing what they have or are going through.

Amina: That is truly sad to hear. I really do hope she gets better. How were the kids for this project selected and how long did it take you to do the shoot?

Fiona: Many of the kids came through Jacob’s Heart which is a non-profit in the Bay Area that helps provide services to families. When Join Wondergirl decided that any donations to this campaign would go to SACC (Superheroes Against Childhood Cancer – a nutrition and wellness program under Jacob’s Heart) it made sense to ask children already benefiting from the services if they would like to be a part of the campaign. A few kids did come from personal contacts as well when we wanted to highlight a specific cancer.

Amina: The video on this project was very impressive. Who are the people you have worked on this project and what skills have they put in to make it a success?

Fiona: Well this list is pretty long! Jenny Chen drew up our first mock-ups of the costumes. We have Camile Falciola and Jessie Pridemore. Both are amazing and award winning costume designers/makers in Los Angeles who made the majority of the costumes the kids wore. We have Marc Mascot (of Marc Mascot Photography) who did not only our photography and editing but also sculpted the costume for Cyborg. We had Noah Todd as our lead video guru and helper Nolan Raynor who are both finishing up their film degrees at university.

Amina: Such a Stellar team! And what impact do you hope to have first, on the children and then people in general with this project?

Fiona: The main goal of this project is to bring awareness to Childhood Cancer. Overall childhood cancer gets about 4% of the budget across the board which is just not enough to do any research.

Treatments that have stayed the same for almost 40 years, and designed for adults, are still being used to try and treat children which not only can kill them in the process but creates lifelong health issues. While there is no doubt that trying to cure adult cancer is a good thing as well perhaps, as my friend Libby would say… “if we can Unravel childhood cancer, it would help adult cancer as well.”

Amina: Is it possible for people to help out or be part of this?

Fiona: Absolutely!! There are lots of ways to help advocate for Childhood Cancer. For us we would hope that they Join Wondergirl and if they can donate that would be great as well. We have set-up a donation page specifically for this superhero campaign. The link is on the website as well or they can go directly to the donation page. Donations for this campaign will go to Superheroes Against Childhood Cancer. In September, for National Childhood Cancer Month, there are lots of activities to “Go Gold” to take part in as well. Amazon even went gold with their prime boxes this year which is a huge plus for the childhood cancer community. People can hold a lemonade stand with Alex’s Lemonade stand or Flutter with Unravel. All in all we all have the same goal. To bring awareness and funds to battle childhood cancer as the government does not.

Amina: Any final words?

Fiona: We really wanted to get as many cancer types as we could and bring awareness that kids can get so many different types of cancer. It doesn’t matter about how much money you have, or what your family background is, childhood cancer can attack any kid, for (at least at the moment) no apparent reason.

Amina: Thanks for speaking with me, Fiona!

Fiona: It’s been great. Thanks Amina.

Copyright © Amina Maikori. All rights Reserved.

Five books I got from the Brooklyn Book Festival 

I’m currently reading about 4 books. I have at least 100 unread ones in my library. So a few weeks back I told my self. ‘Don’t buy any more till you’ve read all you have.’ After that pep talk, I thought me, myself, and I were in agreement but I guess I was wrong.
My mistake was attending the Brooklyn Book Festival at Borough Hall yesterday; I ended up leaving with a bag of books. I have good reason too. Check out the list of the top five books I got and you’ll not have the heart to blame me…

1. Arms from the Sea by Rich Shapero:

I got this beautiful hard cover book because it was handed out to me. ‘ Would you like an adventure novel?’ No thanks was my response. ‘ I’m giving you for free.’ Rain check. What sort of adventures are you talking about? I asked her. Truth be told, I don’t read adventure ( apart from the Famous Five I binged on before I became a teenager ) but there’s always a first time… I took the book but the Nigerian in me had to ask why it’s free. Nothing goes for nothing especially in this society. It’s part of our marketing strategy she explained. So I received it with thanks and so far have smelt it ( because new books smell great. Show of hands if you agree:)) , browsed through the pages and I’ve had a quick look the synopsis: The book is about a man Lyle- tired of life- who gulps down poison and ends up in a supernatural realm. Reminds me of Amos Tutuola’s The Palmwine Drinkard…

2. French Women Don’t get fat is a second hand book that caught my eye while I was trying to leave the festival.

Story line: French girl visits  America and returns home to France, fat. A family doctor teaches her how to eat pastry, bread and all the good things a girl can eat. And not get fat. I’d like to read this bit. Besides I hear it’s hilarious and I love humour. All is well that ends well, basically.

3. The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien ( part 1 ) was my get one free.

Two months back, my friend spent a significant amount of time talking about the book’s opening pages. I said I was finally going to watch the movie because I had Game of Thrones withdrawal symptoms. How was I to live without dragons, several kings, wannabe queens and the constant reminder that ‘Winter is Coming?’ Another motion film product of a book that was reportedly similar to GOT author seemed like a plan. She told me to scratch that; the book was far better. I wouldn’t argue with that. I’d read somewhere once, ‘Read a good book before Hollywood destroys it.’ I’ll try but something tells me I’ll watch the movie before I finish the ‘Lord of the Rings’ novel.

4. I spent a little more money on the Bible Year book for Children: This is a small children’s Bible by Ernest Nister and it is vintage stuff.

Nister was a London based German publisher in the 19th Century. This book – like many he published back then- is well Calligraphed with lithographic pictures set in some select pages. If fact, I’m told that with a magnifying glass, I can actually see the stone markings. I bought it because they have well selected biblical verses that are great to Meditate on. But I own several bibles so I’ll have to share the primary truth: It is old and it would be great to own an antique.

5. The first edition of Life of the Lord by Charles Dickens: was published post humously .

The manuscript was apparently found a few years after dear Charles died. My latest acquisition has these words across the second page ,

 Written for his children during the years 1846-1849 by Charles Dickens and now first published 1934 Simon and Schuster.

This is the stuff world class libraries boast of. I’m pretty excited to have it; worth every penny spent. ‘It’s a rare find,’ the elderly man who sold it to me said. I agree with him.

I sat in for one of  many industry discussions but most of my time at the festival was spent visiting and talking with people at different book industry stands. I stopped by at the Paris Review stand and even got to pen down a quick story where the One Story crew was set up.

All in all, it was a good day.