For as long as she can remember, Kymber Zahar has always wanted to teach. A Francophile from Saskatoon who graduated in 2019, he left for Nigeria in August 2021, where he took up the position of vice principal of a school in Lagos. And the 26-year-old woman does not intend to stop there, motivated by her dream of teaching on all continents.
“I always knew I wanted to teach,” Kymber Zahar testifies. I love children and the academic environment. There is nothing surprising about grandfathers who were teachers themselves: “When I was young, I saw education as something really important in my family”, adds the enthusiast.
Her love for education allows her to travel because after the 2021-2022 school year in Nigeria, the Saskatchewan native decided to leave for the new school year in Lagos in early September.
It was in 2018 that Kymber Zahar experienced Africa for the first time after an exchange in Benin with the francophone Cité universitaire at the University of Regina. “I loved it! The young people were very interested in what I told them, they were determined and the parents appreciated it,” recalls the teacher.
In 2021, she became deputy principal of a school in Lagos that follows the British curriculum with three hours of French a week. “It’s a very different work environment,” says the teacher. This experience allows me to better understand students from African countries in Canada. »
French, the requested language
Speaking French in Nigeria is “very visible”, says a school principal whose parents ask for private tutoring. “The expectations are much higher here,” says the young woman. I have learned that I can push my students so much further. »
The lack of resources is another stark difference from his home country: “In Canada, you can go shopping, the schools have resources. Here are the minimum resources. You cannot buy notebooks, textbooks, posters. You have to do everything yourself. »
The Canadian also notes that parents are “hyper-committed” to their children’s education. “They want to know what they are doing, what they are learning. I get emails from my parents at least three times a month. They want to push their kids, whereas in Canada, as soon as you give homework, parents complain,” he notes.
Education in Nigeria seems to miss a lot of place in society. “Parents are proud when their children can write, read, count well… They tell everyone,” notes Kymber. Especially since the school where he teaches is in the richest part of the city, “one of the few places with electricity 24 hours a day”.
Passion for French
With a mother who was immersed and a sister at a French Canadian school in Saskatoon, Kymber Zahar couldn’t escape the French language. “I love the Fransaskois culture and community, I always wanted to teach in both languages,” she says.
The proof of this is that the young woman was the president of the Association communautaire fransaskoise de Regina (ACFR) from 2019 to 2021. “Community is really close to my heart. Speaking French does me so good. It is a very important part of my life. »
And Kymber wants to transfer this passion to the four corners of the planet. “My dream is to teach on every continent,” he says.
A dream she had been wanting for fifteen years to get a good idea of education around the world. “When I come back to Canada, I will have a global experience. Since Canada is a multicultural country, I want to know where my students come from,” he explains.
During her stay in Nigeria, the Francophile wants to travel to Ghana, Gambia and Kenya. And next year he plans to go to Asia, maybe New Zealand. “I’m already looking at an online master’s program in administration to become a school principal. One day I would like to have my own school, maybe here in Nigeria,” she thinks.
While Kymber Zahar awaits his return to Saskatchewan, which he estimates is “within five years,” he continues his adventure of learning around the world. “If I can have a positive impact on just one child each year, it can make a big difference,” notes the school’s deputy principal.
A glimpse into life in Nigeria
With a population of over 20 million, Lagos is Nigeria’s largest city. “It’s huge, the traffic is terrible,” comments Kymber Zahar, used to the traffic of cities like Saskatoon and Regina. Social and cultural life is a permanent adventure for Saskatchewans: “There are lots of parties, concerts and things to do.” , it’s fun. You can meet people from really everywhere. There are many Lebanese, people from other African countries and French. The local flavors are also a new experience for his Canadian palate. “The food is very different, it’s very spicy. Vegetables are rare, cheese is non-existent and milk is artificial. “Nigerians like to eat a lot of meat,” says the young woman. Although the country has experienced significant economic development in recent years, poverty remains a reality for many citizens. “Nigerians are super friendly, they will always greet you on the street and try to talk to you, but very often they will ask you for money. Because I am white, they see me as a rich person,” regrets the Canadian. And he adds: “It is very difficult for people here to have food and money in general,” the traveler continues. Life is cheap, but even police officers make very little, so they stop you to ask for them. “Far from the Canadian port, Nigeria does not always guarantee the safety of residents: “I had an incident with the police,” says Kymber. They tried to pull me out of the car in the middle of the night. The only reason they finished was because I did an Instagram Live to show their faces,” she recalled.