From Displacement to Leadership: Meet Hussain, the Class Monitor

Hussain Mohammed, a 15-year-old boy from Dikwa, northeast Nigeria, has overcome incredible challenges to become a class captain in his school. But his ambitions don’t stop there. Hussain dreams of becoming an engineer and eventually the Federal Minister of Works, with a mission to repair bad roads in his country.

“I want to become an engineer first and then the Minister of Works. I want to help repair bad roads,”says Hussain

Hussain’s journey has been far from easy. Born in Faltawa, a community east of Dikwa, his family was forced to flee due to persistent attacks by armed groups. They sought refuge in Cameroon, where they lived for four years. During that time, Hussain was unable to attend school.

Eventually, the family decided to return to Nigeria, settling in the Shuwari IDP Camp on the outskirts of Dikwa. However, insecurity still plagues Faltawa, leading to an increase in the number of out-of-school children in the town.

In 2019, Hussain was among those children until a local NGO enrolled him in a non-formal education class called the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP). Two years later, he transferred to the formal learning system at the UNICEF-supported Shehu Sanda Kura Primary School. Through Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) classes, Hussain has learned to read and write, thanks to the small group settings and engaging teaching methods.

Hussain Mohammed reads from a syllable chart
Hussain Mohammed reads from a syllable chart

“We are always in small groups in TARL class, compared to our regular class, and our teacher makes sure that we all participate. It was after I joined the TaRL class that I started understanding the meaning of words,’’Hussain Mohammed

Hussain bounces a ball outside classrooom hours

Hussain’s responsibilities as a class monitor have also contributed to his growth as a learner. He takes pride in ensuring that everyone’s uniforms are clean and the classroom is tidy. He even inspects the nails of his classmates and ensures that there is no noise during lessons.

Despite the challenges he has faced, Hussain remains determined to achieve his dreams. He sees education as a pathway to making a difference in his community and country. With his passion for engineering and his desire to repair bad roads, Hussain hopes to one day become the Federal Minister of Works.

UNICEF, in collaboration with the government and funding from the Government of Norway, has been implementing the Self-Inclusive Learning and Skills (SILSA) programme in Dikwa, where in 2023, a UN agency put the number of out-of-school children at 22,000. This programme includes the innovative Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) methodology, a transformative teaching and learning system that enables children to learn in their mother tongue with illustrative materials, and a creative teaching system for retention, which aims to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of children affected by conflict in Northeast Nigeria.

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