Gabriel Yakubu on Empowering Teachers and Shaping Children’s Future

Gabriel Yakubu facilitating a session on material development during the advanced TaRL course. Photo: TaRL Africa

Gabriel Yakubu is a Senior Content and Training Associate with TaRL Africa in Nigeria. He contributes to the development of content for TaRL for numeracy and literacy, and he supports and mentors teachers’ delivery of the methodology in the classroom and innovation.

When did you start working at TaRL Africa?

In January 2020, amidst the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, I started working with TaRL Africa in Nigeria. Now, after four years, I am grateful for the chance I had to become a part of TaRL Africa.

What has been the most fulfilling thing about working at TaRL Africa?

One aspect that I find particularly intriguing about our work is its inherent flexibility. The organization grants us the freedom to share our creative ideas and explore various avenues, and I have had exciting experiences creating content for TaRL Africa

To find fulfillment, there are two fundamental factors that drive me. Firstly, witnessing the progress of children in their fundamental skills of Mathematics and Reading brings me immense satisfaction. One day, we visited a school in Kano State. There, I observed a young boy reading with the eloquence of a news presenter on television. His articulation, and overall confidence while reading were remarkable. Witnessing such a transformation, from a child who joined the program struggling to recognize letters to one engrossed in reading stories, fills me with joy. 

The teachers are another aspect of this work that brings me great fulfillment. With over 10 years of experience in the field of education, I have observed numerous interventions implemented across different regions, which have been impressive. However, it is important to recognize that it is not the methods alone that educate children; rather, it is the individuals who teach them. Mentoring teachers has been an invaluable experience afforded to me through this work. 

Gabriel Yakubu with learners during a TaRL study visit to India. Photo: TaRL Africa

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

I consider my greatest achievement in my role to be the mentoring I have provided to teachers and the materials I have developed in collaboration with my team members. These contributions have played a part in the overall success of the improvements we have witnessed in TaRL program implementation. We have observed children progressing from lower proficiency levels in foundational skills to higher levels. Thus, I take pride in knowing that my efforts have contributed to this broader success.

How did you end up being a teacher?

Prior to joining TaRL Africa, I served as a full-time pastor. I joined my mentor, the person who guided me in my faith, to serve as a pastor in their church. One day, as I was scheduled to meet the general overseer of the church to discuss my responsibilities, I had a dream in the early morning hours. In this dream, I wasn’t engaged in part-time pastoral work while teaching in a school. Upon waking up, I immediately shared this dream with my mentor. In light of the dream, we decided to cancel the meeting with the senior pastor of the church. That day marked the end of my career in full-time church denominational pastoring and set me on a new path as a teacher and a Part-time Pastor.

What does relaxation/unwinding look like for you?

Apart from work, a significant portion of my leisure time is devoted to reading and watching movies. In terms of reading, my top priority is Christian literature, followed by history, and then philosophy.

What is that one thing that your colleagues don’t know about you? 

While most of my colleagues are aware that I am a pastor, none of them has ever seen me preaching. They all perceive me as extremely reserved and introverted. However, if they were to witness me in action on the pulpit, they would see a different person. It’s truly astonishing how confident and assertive I become. 

Your parting shot. 

By giving these children a chance to learn, we are shaping their future. In 20 years’ time, the impact of our efforts will be undeniable.

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