Last week I wrote here about how Nigerian education is low and retarded to an extent and hinted at the need to include other skills and activities in our educational curriculum. We saw an angle of this through the work of Christine Vihishima and ‘The Thinking Cap Literacy project’.
Today I bring to you the story of Uchenna Leonard Gabriel and U. Chess and Leisure Games, a project aimed at improving and sharpening the IQ of school kids through creative games like Chess, Scrabble, etc. Read the story of Uchenna from his angle:
I am Uchenna Leonard Gabriel, a 23-year-old final year student of Biochemistry at Bayero University, Kano State. I am from Nnsuka in Enugu State precisely, the third of 4 children and currently based in Kano.
I am the founder of U.CHESS AND LEISURE GAMES, a social enterprise aimed at using productive mind games as a tool for improving the academic IQ of young school children in Nigeria. Registered with the corporate affairs commission of Nigeria, our target market is schools here we designed the phases in the form of an NGO. We are inclined towards creating this business project for hotels and lounges.
At its level, the school program system we operate is quite simple. The project is in three phases: First, we send out proposals to schools on the benefits of these games like Chess, Scrabble, Monopoly, Rubiks Cube and others. We also try to explain to and convince the schools to key into the vision. Hopeful that our proposal is accepted, we plan to conduct a free exhibition training for 100 randomly selected students of the school. Why we have chosen this route is because we believe our first trial will need a follow-up model to convince more students. Once we yield positive results, the next step is a startup Leisure club in the school – based on agreed terms and conditions, which we will supervise once a week (four times a month).
The remaining two phases of the project are to keep tabs on the academic improvement of the school children. We have chosen to organise this through our appointed school club heads – selected from among the staff teachers of the school and two students who submit monthly reports.
The final stage is the ‘improved’ school stand a chance of getting a slot in our annual statewide chess competition.
So far, we are just about 6 to 8 months old. In this time, we have done an exhibition for six schools in Kano alongside various programs for orphanages and outdoor youth gatherings.
The school children get engaged productively during break hours having fun that translates into helping them grow. “Kids don’t move back in with the same enthusiasm they move out when the bell rings for break hours”, a teacher at one of the schools remarked. There is evidence that school children look forward to recess time as we all try to “MAKE learning fun”.
The impacts are felt and noticeable in kids with low self-esteem, kids with poor decision-making skills, kids with dyslexia, etc.
Our plans for the future are numerous. First, we are sending out proposals to over 50 schools in three states – it has not been easy, but it’s a leap to doing something unusual. We must reach out to prospective volunteers who believe in our goal. By creating strong partnerships with organisations that can push this idea forward, our goal of making a change can be foreseeable.
One important goal we have is, creating a partnership with Zee Learning Annex, an organisation that trains young people for free in Kano. There are other plans we hope to come to live in the nearest future, these plans we believe will grow our organisation, and help better the society at large.
Uchenna is sure making an impact out there, standing out as one amongst the army of young Nigerians doing great things in his society.
You can contact Uchenna and U. Chess and Leisure Games on:
Facebook: Uchenna Chess Initiative