In northern Nigeria a new school with a unique approach to build trust and cooperation between Christians and Muslims is preparing to begin operations. The Kato International Training Academy, or KITA, is designed to help build a more peaceful Nigeria by securing the best and brightest students, both Christian and Muslim, and bring them together to receive a high quality education and where they can learn mutual tolerance and understanding.
Its founder, Paul Kato, grew up in northern Nigeria, attended Hillcrest School in Jos, and now lives in the US. For years he has been working with various approaches to Christian-Muslim peace building, and he goes back to Nigeria several times a year,
Kato has led earlier efforts toward this end with secondary school students, but realized that in order to make the most impact on Nigerian youth, the target age level would need to be younger. To this end he purchased property for a school in Kwoi, strategically located between Nigeria’s capital Abuja and the city of Jos. The site holds facilities from an earlier school, but the buildings need refurbishment after some years of not being used. Students would come from the urban cities of Kano and Kaduna.
Kato’s first program was an after-school soccer program for Christian and Muslim youth in Kano and Kaduna. Later he expanded that into an after-school and after-soccer computer lab study program, partnering with local governments and other local organizations. His ability to forge community, education, and governmental relationships has brought him to strategize the bolder KITA project.
Paul Kato is a high school teacher and soccer coach in Michigan. With his students there he has organized SEND (Students Empowering Nigerian Development),and has been taking groups of high school student on project trips to Nigeria several times a year.
NFW has contributed funds toward the refurbishing of existing buildings on the KITA campus in Kwoi, and added an encouraging challenge to the Michigan students—if they would raise a certain amount, NFW would match that amount.The NFW funds will be used to help complete the buildings; KITA will purchase all building materials, provide project labor and supervision, and maintain the school buildings upon their completion. The school anticipates opening for students in the fall of 2014.