Job Chronicles V
This thought really scared me and
I started to think about what I could
do to add value without first getting
I began to examine my skills, and I did
not think I gained any valuable knowledge
or skills while at DJL and UNILAG but I
realized I was still good at the math and
further-math I learned at Shagamu and
could teach it competently and so I
decided to teach.
I told my Shagamu principal about it and
she introduced me to a principal friend
of hers at a private high school in Ikeja
who told me she wasn’t hiring for some
reason I can’t remember now.
I started to look for math/further-math
teaching openings online and got an
interview at a private school in Ketu.
I wore my Christmas dress and attended
After speaking with the principal, I was
given past math and further-math exam
questions to solve and that took about
While it was being marked, I was asked
to teach in front of a class.
After all this, the principal offered me
the job and said the pay was N25,000
I was in shock!
Why did she not say the salary before
putting me through all that stress?
I told her I wasn’t interested and turned
down the job.
There and then, I decided I would rather
teach for free than get paid N25,000
and end up being resentful.
I also decided I would rather teach
public school students who probably
did not have enough good teachers and
would value my service better than
private school students who probably
had more than enough good teachers
to choose from.
Members of the church I attend parked
at Oregun high school, a public school
on Ikosi road, and that was the first
school I went to and offered to teach
The English teacher/VP I spoke with
was so happy I was offering to teach
for free and she couldn’t believe I did
not have an ulterior motive for offering
my services pro-bono until I told her
I wanted to keep busy until I traveled
for my masters.
She went on to Say they had no
further-math teacher in the school and
there was only one boy, M, who registered
for further-math for WAEC.
She sent for M and after we spoke,
he said he was interested in being
taught both math and further-math in
preparation for WAEC which was only
3 months away and admitted to never
having been taught the subject.
We agreed that I would come teach
him in the morning at 7am before his
other classes started at 8am.
The VP took me to the principal who
was also enthusiastic and thanked me.
However, she sent for me the following
day and said I needed to get approval
from the Lagos State Education District
at Oshodi before I could teach at her
I Was really surprised as I did not expect
to have to go through all that stress just
to volunteer but I proceeded to Oshodi.
I took the wrong turn twice and almost
passed one way while trying to locate
the District office.
Eventually, I found it and I was passed
from one person to the other and asked
to write plenty super story applications
Eventually, I was told that it was the
principal’s decision to let me teach at
her school, not theirs.
I went back to the school and reported
this to the principal but for some weird
reason I would always wonder at,
she said I couldn’t teach at the school.
But at this point, I was determined to
teach the student by fire or by force
because he was already excited at
the prospect of being taught and I
too was excited at the prospect of
And so I agreed to teach him after
school hours on the school premises
without the principal’s Knowledge.
Since he had never been taught
Further math and it was barely
three months to WAEC, I decided to
teach him with WAEC past questions
and the WAEC syllabus as that would
give us the greatest coverage of
topics in the shortest possible time.
I can’t remember where I got the
Further math textbooks and past
question papers from, but I would
teach him using the textbook for
2-2.5 hours after school every day
on the school premises.
After a week though, I wasn’t satisfied
with teaching just one student for
2.5 hours daily so I went to the next
public school which was even much
closer to my house and the principal
welcomed me with open arms.
She introduced me to all the math
and further-math teachers at the school.
It was agreed that I would teach math
to two S.S.1 classes under the
supervision of their math teacher and
would teach further-math to the
three students who registered for
further-math for WAEC.
The S.S.1 and S.S.2 students had a
further-math teacher so I would not
need to teach those classes.
I resumed promptly at 7:00 am the
following day to teach my first math
The math teacher supervised me for
a few minutes and left.
I taught on my own for the remainder of
my stay at the school.
On my first day, I was teaching the total
surface area of solids and was building
up the formulas from the area of plain
shapes rather than just putting up
the formula and expecting them to
One of the smartest students in the
class, D, (I found out that later) exclaimed,
“wow! I am learning a lot”!
Honestly, that single statement validated
me and would forever stay with me.
I observed there was something different
He was always very neatly dressed and
carried himself with confidence.
One day, I engaged him in conversation
and that’s when he told me he only
recently transferred to the school and
attended a private school from JS1-3.
I asked him why he transferred to the
public school and the reason he gave
was because his father could no longer
afford the fees.
When he told me the amount per term,
I felt terribly sad for him.
I initially thought he said N90,500 but
he corrected me and said it was N19,500.
It was my experience teaching at the
school that made me believe the
statistic that said about 80% of Nigerians
lived on less than a dollar a day.
Prior to that teaching experience, I
actually believed that statistic was
false and mostly exaggerated as I
did not know anyone in my circle
who fell into that category.
(GSW's note: Firecracker is a buttie)
One day I woke up in the middle of
the night and decided to cook for
some of the students at the school.
Granted it wasn’t my ingredients, it
was my mum’s but I didn’t think
she would mind.
I cooked a huge cooler of rice and
chicken and took it to the school.
The students rushed the food and
All of it was gone in a few minutes
so I believed I did the right thing.
I did the same the following day but
the principal called me to her office
after I had distributed the food and
said it wasn’t a good idea for me to
give students’ food as the students or
their parents could attribute any
ailment they had to my food and I
would be held liable.
I took her advice and never gave
them food again so that I dont
get into trouble
Unlike D, the majority of the students
were not as enthusiastic as I expected.
I tried my best to explain as simply as
I could repeating myself several times
but I only got answers to my questions
from the same set of students.
I taught the three S.S.3 further-math
students during their normal further-math
period and 2 of them understood well
enough but the third one wasn’t coping
as much as I expected.
No matter how many times I explained,
he just wasn’t getting it and I did not
have the heart to tell him I didn’t think
he should be taking the subject so I
kept trying but without much luck.
Let me just say that Fashola who was
the then governor of Lagos state was
doing a decent job of trying to improve
public school education.
The classrooms had wooden chairs and
benches similar to the locker I had in
Shagamu, some classes had fans
and we didn’t even have fans in our
classrooms in Shagamu until much
later, and the textbooks for 5 compulsory
subjects were given to each student at
the beginning of the school year but
they had to be returned at the end of
the school year so they could be given
books for the next school year.
The problem with that though is that
J.S.3 and S.S.3 students also needed
the textbooks for their previous two
years to study for their external
The S.S.1 science students were
much better behaved and more
interested in learning than the art
students though as per standard
Most of the art students had zero
interest in learning and I think after
a few humiliating incidents, I
stopped teaching their class.
But I offered to spend time after
school teaching any student who
came to me.
It was at this after hour class I met
the most interesting characters ever.
They were the trouble-makers of their
set but they were hilarious and you
know me I love to laugh.
One time I asked them what they
wanted to become in the future and the
responses were very poorly written.
Some of them wrote “Olamide the rapper”.
When I probed further about their
background, I found out none of them
had any family or community member
who was a University graduate.
Some of them had part-time jobs and
I know 2 of them worked as tailors
after school and during the weekend.
Olamide was the only symbol of
success they could relate with as
he grew up poor in a community
similar to theirs and became successful. T
hat’s how I asked 2 of them to rap for
me and I Spent the rest of the afternoon
laughing at their attempts.
And that’s when it occurred to me that
exposure is very important. It is necessary
for one to see the several career
opportunities and possibilities of success
available to one.
One of the reasons why kids in private
school get taken on tours to multinationals a
nd successful companies on career day is
so they can see the various career options
available to them.
Anyway, I decided I wanted to help the
smartest students in public schools get
scholarships to very good private schools.
The students would benefit from; the
good quality of education available in
those schools, the exposure to the
lifestyle of their well-to-do classmates,
and various career opportunities.
The school would in turn benefit from the
excellent grades the students would
make in their final exams which would
improve the school’s profile and attract
more paying students to the school.
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