The funds needed for this project is the air tickets of the intending students traveling to England. It is going to be a life time experience for them. They have never stepped out of their immediate environment. Visa applications have been done the second time and we expect favourable result in two weeks time. We had planned the trip for April when flight tickets were cheaper but the Consular office needed more back up documents making us extend it to the summer when flights doubled. Below is the project brief. We will appreciate any financial assistance. Also included are photos of the school and some documents already submitted for our visa application.
Project Pilot Catholic Education Student Exchange (2017-18 Academic Year)
Pilot project: 2 weeks’ visit by 4 nominated students of Divine Providence Catholic Secondary School, Osi, Kwara State, Nigeria, who are from disadvantaged backgrounds to St Joseph’s Catholic High School, Slough, United Kingdom.
Proposed Time of Visit June 2018
Project Founder and Promoter Rev. Fr. Henry Sanni, Diocesan Catholic Priest, Diocese of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeriai
Vice Principal, Divine Providence Catholic Secondary school, Osi, Kwara State, Nigeria.
Project Management Advisor Lanre Sanni
My Story and Inspiration
I grew up in the village where only two out of ten children had the opportunity of going to school so were it not for the missionaries from Ireland, I would have had no chance. My smarter elder brother was also fortunate.
I remember that after starting school in 1978 I walked about eight miles daily to and from school for about six years. I appreciate those years better today as they were the foundation years of what I am today. Indeed without those painful years my life would be quite different and I probably could not have been a priest today.
The 14th of October, 2016 remains a day I will never forget, whilst on sabbatical, I conducted the Lampedusa service at my parish St. Teresa’s Catholic Church, Beaconsfield. It was in memory of the 366 refugees and illegal immigrants who perished at the shores of Lampedusa in Italy on the 3rd of October 2013. Since the Lampedusa tragedy, there has been a massive influx of illegal immigrants to Europe, including to England. Many of these illegal immigrants are from my country Nigeria and other parts of Africa. Studies show that many of these are uneducated young men with no fore knowledge of where they were going. They paid huge sums of money to human traffickers, hopped on the boat only to later perish in the Mediterranean. We’ve seen those who made the journey turn to social menace doing the most demeaning jobs or become criminals. As we speak many uninformed youths are still queuing to embark on this pre-emptive and fatal journey.
Having reflected on this pathetic situation which is almost becoming a recurring decimal, I feel the passionate call to start educating the world, starting with children about the boundless opportunities education offers. Education is all about learning. This very much informed my having to come back home to nigeria leaving the luxury of living in England.
The majority of students under my care in Divine Providence Catholic Secondary School are from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. Although their experience and condition of learning are not too attractive, they ironically possess and display a burning desire to learn. This is visibly displayed as many of them are ready to trek long distance to school. My goal with a program like this is to help the children experience the interesting nature of the learning and to keep them focussed while seeing the sky as their limit. I also want to transmit my conviction to them that education is the only tool that can legitimately take one to any part of the globe. Experience has shown that without education, people easily fall into desperation and hopelessness culminating in taking unnecessary and senseless risks. The situation in my local community is that girls are given out in marriage as early as age thirteen or once they start menstruating. When such girls are helped to see what great opportunities the world and their future has for them, they remain focussed and are knowledgeable enough to say no to early marriage advances.
On the 8th of March, 2018, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria Mr. Paul Arkwright outlined the pathetic situation of education in Nigeria with eleven million children out of school. He made reference to a twelve year partnership and scheme to be introduced by the British Prime Minister Theresa May and the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari focussing on how to encourage children especially girls to go to school.
Apart from the keen interest to learn shown by the children under my watch, one of my motivations in this project is the good response and support it has generated amongst my friends in England and locally. My friends for instance in the UK have played a major part in the sponsorship of the program, they have supported it in cash and in kind. The Bishops of the two dioceses of Northampton, England and Ilorin, Nigeria have been giving tremendous moral and spiritual support. It was very heart-warming to know that St Teresa’s parish, Beaconsfield where I worked for almost two years before returning home to Nigeria made a donation of the Christmas crib offering last December to this program and it will be presented during the visit. A copy of the two newsletters where it was published is attached to this project brief. What greater love and support could there be.
My belief in the positive impact of this program on the children is unflinching and non-negotiable. I enthusiastically wait to see it happen.
About the Project
Pilot project date: April 2018
Age of students: 15yrs
Class: Senior Secondary School 2 (SS2) / Year 11 in the UK
Total number of students visiting: 4
Gender: 2 boys and 2 girls
Length of stay: 2 weeks
Activities during visit: Attending classes with their peer group for one week so as to experience lessons and learning in an English school setting. The second week will be spent taking the students to visit to places of interest in England such as the Science Museum, the Natural science and that of human History Museum, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, London Bridge, Big Ben (if open as it is currently closed for repairs), Westminster Cathedral and Abbey and Northampton Catholic Cathedral.
Objectives of the Project
1. To develop a student-led method of learning and transferring knowledge from partner Catholic schools in England to Catholic schools owned by the Catholic Diocese of Ilorin.
2. To create a sustainable process of sharing best practices between both schools
3. To create an additional and enjoyable learning opportunity for the visiting students, whilst sharing their African student experiences with the host students.
4. To expand the learning horizon of the students in general.
5. To boost the aspirations of the wider student body through the sharing of the experience of the would-be student travellers with other students.
6. To provide a unique opportunity to build on the current relationship between the Dioceses of Northampton and Ilorin.
7. To create opportunity for students of both schools involved to build (international) friendships in this world, which are based upon mutual global values, thereby helping to enrich the diversity of their cultural experiences.
The Students’ Itinerary
Friday April 27 Arrival at London Heathrow Airport. Rest and acclimatisation Pick up at St. Teresa’s by the Cox and Robinson (C&R) at St. Teresa’s by 17.00
Saturday April 28 Visit to London and the theatre with Fr. Kevin the Parish priest of Holy Family Church, Langley Drop off at St. Teresa’s by C&R at 08.00. Taken back to the C&R by Fr. Henry
Sunday April 29 Mass at Holy Family Church, Langley and lunch With the C&R. Drop off at St. Teresa’s by the C&R. Return to St. Teresa’s from Langley at 17.00 and picked home by the C&R.
Monday April 30 1st Day in School With the C&R. Drop off at St. Teresa’s by C&R at 07.30. Taken to school by Fr. Henry. Return from school at 16.00. Picked up for home by C&R at St. Teresa’s by 17.00
Tuesday May 1 2nd Day in school With C&R. Drop off at St. Teresa’s by C&R at 07.30. Taken to school by Fr. Henry. Return from school at 16.00. Picked up for home by C&R at St. Teresa’s by 17.00
Wednesday May 2 3rd Day in school With C&R. Drop off at St. Teresa’s by C&R at 07.30. Taken to school by Fr. Henry. Return from school at 16.00. Picked up for home by C&R at St. Teresa’s by 17.00
Thursday May 3 4th Day in school With C&R. Drop off at St. Teresa’s by C&R at 07.30. Taken to school by Fr. Henry. Return from school at 16.00. Picked up for home by C&R at St. Teresa’s by 17.00
Friday May 4 5th Day in school With C&R. Drop off at St. Teresa’s by C&R at 07.30. Taken to school by Fr. Henry. Return from school at 16.00. Picked up for home by C&R at St. Teresa’s by 17.00
Saturday May 5 FREE
Sunday May 6 Mass at St. Teresa’ s, Beaconsfield, Lunch, visit to Beaconscot and other activities Drop off at St. Teresa’s by C&R for 08.45 Mass. Pick up of the boys by Ed and the girls by Lanre after the day’s activities.
Monday May 7 With Fr. Francis Higgins in Milton Keynes to see the snow dome Drop off of the boys at St. Teresa’s at 07.00. Pick up of the girls in Slough by Fr. Henry. Onward journey to Milton Keynes by Fr. Henry. Sleep over in Northampton
Tuesday May 8 A visit to Bishop Peter and tour of the Northampton Catholic cathedral, Visit to the Diocesan Marian Shrine and Prayer Time with Deacon Peter Hurrell Return to Beaconsfield. Boys picked up by Ed and girls by Lanre. Time: 18.00 at St. Teresa’s
Wednesday May 9 London visit by train Drop off of the boys by Ed and the girls by Lanre at St. Teresa’s at09.00
Thursday May 10 Visit to Stamford Bridge (sponsored by Michael and Mary Robinson My fellow Chelsea’s die hards) Drop off of the boys by Ed and girls by Lanre at St. Teresa’s for Mass at 09.30. Pick up at arrival by Ed and Lanre at St. Teresa’s
Friday May 11 Back for farewell at St. Joseph’ s Secondary School, Slough Drop off of the boys by Ed and girls by Lanre at St. Teresa’s for School at 08.00. Pick up by Ed and Lanre at 17.00
Shopping Drop off of the boys by Ed and girls by Lanre at St. Teresa’s for Mass at 09.30
Saturday May 12 Flight back to Lagos Drop off at the airport by Lanre
Accommodation and Welfare of the Students
God has been gracious to such an extent to such an extent that some Catholic parishioners of St. Teresa’s, Beaconsfield and St.Anthony’s Slough have kindly come forward to volunteer to provide accommodation and hospitality for the students during their stay in Slough.
Supporting and Safeguarding the Students
At least two adults (one male and one female) will be required to support the students during their visit. The male will be Fr Henry Sanni. One female adult needs the person Mrs. Kemi Sanni female adults from St. Anthony’s parish have kindly volunteered to support the girls. The students will benefit from ongoing support after school hours from the support person and from the families who will be hosting them.
Clearances and Checks
Nigeria: appropriate clearances will be obtained from the students’ parents, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS). The documentation will accompany the students’ visa applications and will be available to project partners upon request. Consent to share this information will be appropriately secured from the parties concerned. Clearance from the Nigeria Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in human Persons we are reliably inform comes after the procurement of visa. That is very much in view.
United Kingdom: Disclosure Barring System (DBS) checks will be carried out for all UK resident volunteers involved with the project.
Risk Assessment: Individual students will be risk-assessed for readiness in preparation for the travel and stay in the UK using an appropriate risk-assessment template for international school trips. Contingency plans will be put in place for all identified risks. Completed risk-assessment forms will be shared with appropriate agencies/individuals mainly on a need-to-know basis.
Each of the students and Fr Henry Sanni will require appropriate UK visas for the project visit.
To facilitate visa applications, the following will be required in addition to the safeguarding clearances stated above:
1. Letter from St Joseph’s Secondary School
2. Letters from Divine Providence Catholic Secondary School and the Catholic Bishop of Ilorin
3. Letters from the students’ parents
4. Letters from the families volunteering to host/accommodate the students
5. Letter from church, school and others providing funding for the project