• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Empowering tomorrow: Uniting for the total child development

Empowering tomorrow: Uniting for the total child development

To begin with, what is the concept of the “total child”? According to Mr Olanrewaju Yusuf, an education consultant, “the total child possesses comprehensive development across physical, motor, intellectual, social-emotional, language, and spiritual domains.”

From the position of Mr Yusuf, I will say that this concept is the power of the “total child development,” a movement that goes beyond traditional education to nurture the whole child: body, mind, heart, and spirit. It is about recognising that children are not simply vessels to be filled with knowledge, but individuals brimming with potential waiting to be unlocked. This journey requires unity as families, educators, and communities come together to empower the next generation to navigate life’s complexities with confidence and resilience.

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On this note, join me as I explore how “the total child development” can become the cornerstone of a brighter tomorrow.

Families are the cornerstone of a child’s development, like the warm sun that nurtures a seedling. They create a safe and supportive environment, a haven where little ones can blossom and explore. Within this loving embrace, children find the emotional security to build their confidence and the spark of curiosity that ignites their desire to learn. It’s in the everyday moments—the bedtime stories, the playful games, and the shared laughter—that families plant the seeds of knowledge, compassion, and resilience that will shape their children’s journey through life.

Educational establishments should collaborate with families to nurture “the total child development.” To a great extent, schools, colleges, universities, and centres of learning provide a structured environment that complements the foundation laid by families. Carefully designed curriculums go beyond academic knowledge, fostering crucial life skills like teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving. For instance, Bridge House College’s project-based learning programme encourages students to collaborate on tackling real-world issues, empowering them to become confident and engaged citizens. Recognising the growing importance of social and emotional learning, many institutions, such as the University of Lagos, Akoka, have implemented programmes that equip students with the tools to navigate interpersonal dynamics, build healthy relationships, and foster empathy and compassion.

Furthermore, many schools are embracing the concept of “authentic education,” where students move beyond core memorisation and engage in a process of active discovery. For instance, Ade Dagunduro, a 34-year-old graduate of Fine Art from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, is a creative artist. Dissatisfied with the theoretical emphasis of his university education, Dagunduro sought further training in painting and sculpture to expand his practical skills. He emphasises the importance of real-world experience in learning, stating that there is much more to learn beyond the confines of academia.

“Carefully designed curriculums go beyond academic knowledge, fostering crucial life skills like teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving.”

Dagunduro’s art has transformed his life, inspiring him to repurpose waste materials from the streets into art, thereby contributing positively to the environment. He challenges himself by exploring unconventional materials like used tyres, aiming to push the boundaries of creativity and make a positive impact on society. Dagunduro’s latest work, titled Torso, is a female form made from dismantled motorcycle chains—which he picked up from a motorcycle mechanic’s workshop—welded together.

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Another example is Adejoke Lasisi, a graduate of economics from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife and hailing from a traditional weaving family in Ibadan, who has innovatively repurposed waste materials to address environmental concerns in Nigeria. Inspired by the ubiquitous presence of discarded “pure water” sachets, she began weaving them into colourful clothing and accessories, effectively transforming waste into wearable art. Through her business, Planet3R, established in 2020, Lasisi not only creates sustainable products but also trains young people in her community in the art of weaving with recycled materials.

Her initiative not only tackles environmental issues but also empowers youth to become agents of positive change in their environment. On her part, she explained that, “I hope that other young people will be able to save the environment with their hands too. The more wastepreneurs we have, the cleaner our environment becomes.”

Through these hands-on projects, students develop critical thinking skills, collaborate with peers, and apply their knowledge to solve complex challenges. This approach fosters a spirit of inquiry and empowers students to question, investigate, and form their own informed opinions. As they overcome challenges, their confidence blossoms, and they discover the power of their own minds and the determination to persevere.

This newfound confidence is not just about individual success; it is about inspiring a vision that extends beyond themselves and motivates them to contribute positively to their communities. Authentic education is not just about acquiring knowledge; it is about igniting a fire within, empowering students to become skilled, confident, and impactful members of society.

Beyond the confines of every home and school, the broader community serves as a vibrant and enriching resource. Libraries, after-school programmes, and community centres offer diverse opportunities for children to explore their interests, develop new skills, and forge meaningful connections with peers and mentors. These interactions provide valuable exposure to different perspectives and cultural norms, fostering open-mindedness and appreciation for the richness of human experience.

Furthermore, the presence of inspiring role models within the community plays a significant role in shaping young minds. These individuals, whether coaches, community leaders, or even neighbours, demonstrate the embodiment of positive values and the pursuit of excellence. Their dedication and perseverance serve as a source of inspiration for children, encouraging them to strive for their goals and contribute positively to their communities.

Finally, the government plays a crucial role in shaping the landscape of child development through legislative frameworks, investment in education and social services, and collaborative initiatives with stakeholders. By enacting laws that safeguard children’s rights and well-being, governments create a foundation for equitable access to quality education, healthcare, and essential support services. Moreover, investing in these areas ensures that every child has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their background or circumstances. Collaborative efforts with parents, educators, community leaders, and non-profit organisations further amplify the impact of these initiatives, fostering a supportive ecosystem that empowers every child to reach their full potential.

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In essence, nurturing well-rounded individuals is a collective endeavour, requiring the concerted efforts of families, educators, communities, and governments. By embracing the concept of the “total child” and working together to provide the necessary support and resources, we can empower future generations to weave a brighter and more vibrant tapestry for humanity.

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” – Neil Postman