Disturbed by the persistent number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in partnership with key stakeholders, has embarked on a number of innovative strategies to combat this trend. .
Since Katsina is one of the states with the highest number of out-of-school girls, the UN agency has adopted the Girls Education Project 3 (GEP3) which aims to get girls aged education without neglecting the education of boys.
The GEP3 which has been implemented by UNICEF in Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Bauchi, Kano and Niger states with support from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has already significant impact with over 300,000 school-aged girls. enrolled in Katsina schools, according to the results.
Nevertheless, through its support of School Management Committees (SBMCs), LEADERSHIP has understood that communities have automatically become stakeholders and actively participate in the management of public schools in their environments in partnership with the government for relevant, judicious and timely actions. .
UNICEF decided to support SBMCs following a directive from the National Board of Education in 2005, requiring all schools to establish committees to ensure that local communities participate in school decision-making.
During a visit to Abukur Model Primary School, Rimi Local Government Area in Katsina, by our correspondence, it was found that the activities of the school management committee in the local government, in terms of raising public awareness of the importance of girls’ education, advocacy visits to community actors to dispel misconceptions about girls’ education yield positive results in terms of increasing access to girls in primary education.
This not only improves the quality of education locally, but empowers communities; parents, non-parents, teachers, school children and governments under one roof for synergy to address challenges in the education sector, especially financing, infrastructure and service delivery, rather than just waiting for the government.
The Chairman of SMBC, Abukur Model Primary School, Dr Surajo Abubakar Dalhat told our correspondent that the committee is receiving support from UNICEF to succeed.
“We have received so much training on how to engage parents, how to engage the whole community not only to send their wards to school, but also to ensure that those who are out of school, especially Almajiris, back to school.
“There are many Almajiri children that we continue to enroll in school and there are also many examples of out-of-school children who are back in school.
“Also thanks to the efforts of SMBC, we have a special committee on this. We go to the village chiefs, we also use the Imams and Mallams to mobilize the community by bringing their children back to school and of course trying to let them stay in school, finish and of course transit to the level superior.
“So this process has of course brought very positive results in this school. Regarding the structures that UNICEF intervenes through school improvement grants, we usually have a routine in the school whereby every year we have our school-based development plan.
“So any intervention by UNICEF or any individual, we follow the plan. In this regard, we were able to fence the back of the school, the toilets and also strengthen the security of the school.
“And thanks to the efforts of SMBCs, we have been able to provide boreholes that provide water to the community of over 2,000 people,” he said.
Despite the success, he said there was still a lot of work to be done to resolve the issues. “As for Almajiri, UNICEF has offered Integrated Quranic Education (IQE) but the schools chosen by UNICEF are not enough. We therefore need more interventions in these Koranic schools so that the children there are prepared to take an interest in formal education. Another is that we are seeing the impact,” Dalhat added.
The headmaster of the Abukur Model Primary School, Rimi, Hayatu Buhari Gidado, in an interview with our correspondence, said that he has recorded a significant increase in the number of girls since the intervention of UNICEF.
He said, “During the 2010/2011 school term, the school had a total of 852 boys and 670 girls. However, this figure changed in the 2021/2022 session, with girls overtaking boys with a figure of 1392 boys and 1490 girls.
Meanwhile, UNICEF Kano field education officer Muntaka Mukhtar said during a three-day girls’ education training with journalists that more than 300,000 girls in of school age have been enrolled in Katsina schools through the project.
Mukhtar, said the project, through community campaigning, peer support for girls and family negotiations, has improved residents’ attitudes towards girls’ enrollment and the completion of their schooling.
“Since 2012, 210 headteachers have acquired knowledge and skills in school management, organize professional development meetings with staff and provide educational animation. The project also improved the capacity of teachers to ensure their effectiveness.
“Basic learning was also boosted by the early learning, literacy and numeracy approach, with an emphasis on teaching a community,” he said.
Mr. Mukhtar added that 180 girls’ groups for girls have been established in 60 junior high schools in six participating local government areas of the state, while more than 500,000 are still out of school despite the success.