Despite being a classroom teacher, 28-year-old Asmau Sagir, a graduate of Bed. English from the Bayero University Kano, found love for a sustainable environment when a flood in her community drenched her on her way to school when she was a little girl.
The flood was due to blockage of drainage in the community which forced the water that snaked through the community in Anguwar Shanu to look for another route to get its destination, thus making her a victim of the environmental fighting back in its terms.
The incident left an indelible experience on her but it was positive as she always ponders how not to make it a recurring event in the community.
Now at the employ of the Kaduna State government as at the Asmau Makarfi Government Secondary School, Anuguwar Shanu, and taking Junior Secondary Class 1 to 3, English Language, Asmau did some volunteering work on waste management but thought of how she could trickle down the knowledge of a safer environment to her students besides the English language she was mandated to teach them.
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“I decided to do something in the community to see how we make a change by incorporating waste management instead of corporal punishment for children or doing somethings that are hard for them to do and hate school. With this, I felt I would imbibe the culture of the students seeing wrong in what people see as normal in terms of disposal of these products that are inimical to places, we call home.”
“I am passionate about the environment and sustainability to create projects about it, especially when we are having extracurricular activities with my students. What I do most times, especially after events like world environmental day or independent day, we organise a cleanup for the students like 20 or 30 of them in the morning and we work for an hour to remove plastic materials,” she said.
She stated that the first time the students engaged in the activity, they sold plastic bottles that lay their hands on which they eventually sold.
“We tried to sell them because some of the students when in class don’t have reading books as they do not have the money to buy them,” she said.
She said gradually, the students began bringing the bottles they found on their way to her while they continued to get books for the class.
In the course of seeing a better way to make her impact felt in her community, she stumbled on an online programme by the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens.
After the training, participants were told to write proposals for projects that would lead to the award of a mini-grant.
She said, “So, I decided to make it around the community and I won the grant to construct a sitting slab that will be constructed using plastic bottles. We will use laterite sand to fill in the bottles and we are going to partner with an organisation in Zaria where they will come and teach the children. The programme will also provide entrepreneurship skills and provide the children the skills to solve problems and it will be held in the school in November.”
On her next step, she said “I am looking at how I can scale up the project. I have told the Kaduna State government about it and they asked me to explore issues around sachet water which is very rampant in the state. So, they asked me to look into it and see what I can come up with.”
On her plans for the future, she said she is running her master degrees in the Kaduna State University and currently working on Eco-criticism. “It is literature but mixed with works that are done around the environment. It looks at how writers are exploring what is being done to protect the environment. I am interested in it because I am very passionate about writing,” she said.
On how the next generation could be carried along to ensure environmental sustainability, she said, “One thing I feel we can do is to make students do it. Let us incorporate it into our system for example, instead of punishing a child for doing something in school, ask the child to plant a tree, and ask him to nurture the tree. You are not beating the child and at the same time you are giving the child an opportunity to nurture a life.”