First published on Medium, Mar 26, 2018
March For Our Lives is a student-led protest against school shootings, pushing for gun control in America. The picture above, taken on the day of the protest, is of Brittany, an American English teacher whom I follow on Instagram and whose creative teaching ideas inspire me greatly until her school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School became victim of the Parkland shooting last month with seventeen lives lost. After days of being offline, she finally resurfaced to describe the horror of trying to protect her kids, of gunshots by her window and how she and her students had to vacate the classroom forever. She’s back to school now, but her life as a teacher has definitely changed.
Following the Parkland shooting, teachers all over the US united online, creating awareness on the dangers of gun ownership and speaking up for gun control, for change. Hash tags like #ArmMeWith, started by another teacher whose school wasn’t affected, went viral and more protests by students — the survivors of the Parkland shooting, led to the formation of a gun-control advocacy group, Never Again MSD and finally the March For Our Lives protest held on Saturday, with two million protesters in the US and more all over the world. Remember, this protest was initiated and led by students; young people under 18.
In Nigeria, we have had our own share of violence: Boko Haram bombings, Fulani Herdsmen killings, abduction of Chibok girls and most recently, Dapchi girls. But where is the rage? Why are teachers of the abducted girls not speaking? What are the schools saying? What are schools all over Nigeria doing to stand in solidarity with the affected schools? And the Ministry of Education? Do we teach our students that their voices matter? Do we know that our voices matter? How are we so divided, so unconcerned, so powerless? How do we just move on?
We have failed ourselves, as Nigerians. We have failed. But we must raise our children differently. We, teachers, must teach our students differently. We must realise that the goal of education isn’t just to produce intellectuals. We must teach our students to be leaders, not just A students. We must teach them to be aware and conscious. Only then can things begin to change.