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SCHOOL/ Willy (Nigeria): our students compete with the rich schools

John Williams, the responsible for AVSI schools in Nigeria, comments on the situation of the schools, the progress they have seen and how they have been affected by the recent violence.

Students in Nigeria Students in Nigeria

"After a decade of work, 100% of the girls, as well as the boys, are able to continue on to secondary school. We started to help them learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic to arrive today at a level where they can compete with the students of the best schools in Lagos, those schools that require high fees”. This is the statement by John Williams, the Head of the schools of AVSI (Association of Volunteers in International Service) in Nigeria. Williams tells ilsussidiario.net how the schools are growing in the place in which they operate. They are places of meeting and formation, representing an outstanding example in the country of meetings between young Catholics, animists and Muslims. They are places in which the AVSI workers are concerned about not only the education of pupils in primary and secondary schools, but also the training of teachers and the construction of educational programs with parents. This attention to the whole person has generated significant results, as well as building up a bond of trust with the various local communities.

Willy, since when have you been involved as the responsible of the schools of AVSI in Nigeria? Do you also teach? How did you get to know AVSI?

I have been involved with AVSI activities since 1998.  I followed the work of the SS. Peter and Paul school at Ikate Waterside and later (1999)  joined to lead the work of The Seed Remedial School in Ilasan Estate where St. Kizito Clinic is situated. I taught chemistry (high school), integrated science (junior high school) and Religion. Now, as the head of St. John School, Oreta, Ikorodu, I teach Religion.
I met AVSI through a friendship that developed with friends of the Communion and Liberation Movement in Lagos, Nigeria.  This was in 1997/1998.

Can you explain what exactly you do with regards to education?
As the head teacher of the St. John School, I plan and oversee the implementation of the activities of the school following the method of education of AVSI and The Seed.  
With the teachers, we work to educate the children to be responsible persons.  It is my responsibility to propose and implement the training and development of the teachers. 
As it relates to parents, I work with them in an educative way towards realizing the proper growth and development of our children towards becoming who they ought to be.

Are there Muslims and other non-Catholics in AVSI’s schools? Are the schools open to everyone?
There are many Catholic Christian children in the school. There are also many non-Catholic Christian children, as well as animists and many Muslim children in AVSI schools. The school is open to everybody, including the employment of capable non-Catholic and Muslim staff members.

In the sphere of education, what is the relationship between AVSI and the Nigerian authorities? Is there collaboration and do they support your schools?