Yusuf witnessed the negative effects of water shortage and sanitation issues on students’ learning and performance. It was not uncommon for his students to abstain from breakfast to avoid the need for toilet use. In fact, it was not uncommon for Yusuf to avoid it as well. Although toilets did exist at the school, they were under lock and key and rarely used due to lack of water. Many students complained about the distraction of the odor that seeped into their classrooms. Others asked to return home for a toilet break and missed valuable lesson time as a result.
Dinyambe was profoundly impacted by the experience of seeing a 14-year-old female student in his classroom stained with blood. He later learned that she had begun menstruating but lacked an understanding of menstruation or how to handle it. His Teach For Nigeria colleagues similarly observed that their female students aged 11-17 often lacked knowledge of sexual reproduction and struggled to maintain good hygiene, particularly during their menstrual cycles. They knew of students who were sexually active but ill-informed on reproduction; others were altogether unaware of menstruation.
Fellows Michael and Daniel were distressed to observe occurrences of bullying of girls by the boys in their classrooms and schools. They noticed that this made their female students uncomfortable, resulting in low self-esteem and impacting their academic performance. As a result, they organized a one-day sensitization against girls’ bullying.
In her placement community in Ogun, Nigeria, Odufuwa’s female students have limited access to information on sex and sexual abuse that leaves them in greater danger of being prey to it. Several students sought Odufuwa out to privately ask questions and solicit counsel on these issues. There was at least one reported incident of sexual abuse at her school.