London based teacher works towards giving children a Better Start both inside and outside the classroom
As servants of the earth, employing our efforts to improve the lives of others should be our universal mandate. A young woman who is working toward better learning resources and alleviating educational barriers is Tope Kazzim, Founder of Better Start – a holistic approach to helping the learning and development of young people on a global scale through creative and academic workshops.
British Nigerian, Tope Kazzim, comes from a professional background in education and her experiences have equipped her with the skills to aid and develop the learning of the next generation. Better Start run workshops and play schemes for young children and steward their skills and creativity in the UK, however a trip to Nigeria opened her eyes to the possibilities of providing similar services in developing countries, “I went to Nigeria in 2016, and whilst I was there I visited a primary school and I remember thinking, ‘wow, the teachers here lack adequate resources to aid the children’s learning. I liaised with a few teachers to understand their needs and thought about how I could incorporate what I do in the UK, there”.
“When I was their age I didn’t do anything”
Tope’s experiences have proved to her that socio-economic status one of the primary hindrances to a more equal educational experience, especially in Nigeria, “for example, if you come from a middle class family background, you’ll have access to a more middle class education. The majority of families who live in areas like where my mum is from are working class or below that, and have access to working class education.” The emphasis the government places in education can also be a stumbling block for academic progression. As a teacher in the UK, Tope tell us that the relationship the UK has with education helps students have access to better quality resources as standard especially in private schools, “I’ve worked at both private and public schools and it’s crazy. When I started my current school, I remember thinking ‘wow, just because a parent can or can’t afford a particular level of education, there’s an automatic barrier’. From what the schools have to offer, to the quality of one to one sessions, it’s a lot different”.
“Wow, the teachers here lack adequate resources to aid the children’s learning”
Empowering children is at the top of Tope’s agenda and with the rise in empowerment events for millennials, Tope feels like providing workshops for young children will massively help their sense of identity and self worth as they grow up, “it’s never too early, and it’s easy to see that if the right support isn’t provided from a young age, so much can spiral into adulthood. If we start telling the children about self worth and pour into them now, maybe we won’t have to hold as many empowerment events as they knew their worth from, like, age 10”.
Many studies have shown that children who are a part of extra curricular activities, are more confident, brave, and conversational. Reflecting on her childhood experiences at school, Tope observed that the creative element of life really helps with self-development, “when children come into school after the weekend, they’ve always got something to share. They do ballet, play the piano, go rock climbing; when I was their age I didn’t do anything. This is why the holiday clubs and play schemes are so important with Better Start because I saw how confident those activities made the other children, and how shy not doing them, made me”. With special attention to the extra-curricular and creative activities, Tope is passionate about continuing to broaden the opportunities available to children in both in the UK and Nigeria, “helping children in developing countries understand what they actually want to do is not happening, so Better start is essentially about just that, helping them understand that and giving them a better start”.