Here is Yvette Allen’s account of her team’s recent visit to Nigeria as part of the Local Authority programme of the Global School Partnerships (GSP):
“Local Authority Visit to Dutse, Jigawa, Nigeria
From 30th June to 6th July 2011, three representatives from the London borough of Islington visited their local authority partner in Nigeria. These representatives were Yvette Allen (Senior Consultant and LA Global Schools Partnerships Manager, Cambridge Education @ Islington), Ian Harragan (Teacher, Highbury Quadrant Primary School) and Troy Ellison (Teacher, New North community Primary School). The purpose of their visit was to begin to consolidate the partnering of ten schools in Islington with ten schools in Dutse, Nigeria.
As team leader, I had coordinated the visit to Nigeria, including briefing meetings. In these meetings, honesty prevailed as we expressed our concerns, particularly around safety. Unfortunately, Nigeria is associated with much negativity and visiting the northern part (majority Islamic) raised another set of issues. Personally, I had to consider not only being a Westerner, but also Black and a woman. I believe that my position as team leader afforded me respect and the fact that everyone we met were overwhelmingly supportive of the partnership project.
Whilst in Dutse, I shared with various audiences that prior to visiting Nigeria, we had feelings of anxiety. There was a response that ‘fear does not achieve anything’. This is so true. We demonstrated an element of bravery as we entered into the unknown; however, much of our fears were dispelled as our visit to Dutse was an extremely positive experience. The British Council and Jigawa LEA had put in place considerable measures to keep us safe, however, a trip of this nature requires total awareness of one’s surroundings, at all times, as one of our party discovered as he fell, quite deeply, into a ditch!
The State Governor assigned us the title ‘Ambassadors for Dutse’, which carries considerable responsibility. As a result of the trip, we have renewed commitment to try to make the partnerships work and intend to cascade this enthusiasm and commitment to the other schools in the Cluster. Previously, I had been asked to showcase the Global Schools Partnerships work during Black History Month (October). As part of this programme, I would like to coordinate a central Global Education/linking event as well as various school-based activities. These activities would highlight the partnerships with Dutse schools. We will also be making a number of presentations to pupils, parents and colleagues and summaries of the trip (with photos) to numerous newsletters and websites.”