Prior to the introduction of Cash Transfer Project (CTP) in North East Nigeria, girl’s retention in school was a difficult task. However, the story is no longer the same today.
In this report, DOOSUUR IWAMBE examines how lack of sufficient teachers is affecting the programme following the massive increase in number of girls’ enrollment in school.
The number of children enrollment in Kawara Manu Model School situated in Maiyama Local Government Area in Birnin- Kebbi, Kebbi State has increased drastically to 667 pupils with more seeking to be enrolled since the introduction of Cash Transfer Project (CTP), an Educate-A-Child sponsored programme implemented by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, (UNICEF).
UNICEF had revealed that about 501,749 out-of-school children are being targeted in its Educate – a – child (EAC) programme in four northern states.
According to UNICEF, The EAC programme was introduced as “a funding window” to reduce the number of out-of-school children in Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states by 2020.
Part of its components, they said include the cash transfer programme (CTP) in addition to other grant opportunities. Since the introduction of this education interventions, it has helped changed, and is still changing the narrative in most northern states, especially in Kebbi state categorised as educationally-disadvantaged states, in spite of the fact that officially, basic education is free and compulsory.
Meanwhile, despite the shortage of qualified teachers as well as good learning facilities, student’s enrolment, especially that of girl-child has continued to increase.
Ten – year – old Jamila Ibrahim who has started enjoying the benefits of modern education every morning, from Monday to Friday, is usually happy going to school. Like every other ambitious child, Jamila looks forward to a day her dream of becoming a teacher will come true.
However, each day Jamila steps into the premises of her school, Kawara Manu Model School situated in Maiyama Local Government Area, Kebbi State, her interest dims as a result of the poor learning condition as well as shortage of teachers to manage the increasing influx of students’ enrolment in the school.
Jamila alongside other students of the school usually sit on the floor. When they want to write, they place their lesson notes on their legs.
She told the Daily Times that during the raining season, most pupils stay back at home because the classrooms’ roofs leak. “We sit on the floor and place our books on our laps to write’’, she said.
Also, 15 – year – old Aisha Musa, Zainab Adamu, 13, and Hauwa Usman, 16 told our reporter that even though they were happy to be in school, they were not happy admitting the fact that a male teacher teaches them every day.
“There are days I feel like discussing some personal issues with my teacher but since he is a man, I know that I cannot dare going close to him to even utter a word. They should engage more female teachers in our school’’, said Musa.
For 13-year-old Zainab Adamu, her worry is the limited number of damaged chairs without tables to write on.
“The classrooms and teachers are not sufficient to meet the demand for education. About 100 of us are usually forced to squeeze ourselves into a classroom designed to accommodate only 30 pupils.
“We are forced to sit on the floor and place our books on our laps to write. Primary one is divided into three, while one group sits in the class, the two other groups receive lessons outside, under the scorching Kebbi sun’’, she added.
Mallam Labaran Falke, Headmaster of the school is helpless about the challenges of infrastructure the school is facing.
Fielding questions from our reporter, Falke said that the total number of children enrolment in the school before the CTP was 300, but with the programme in place, the figure increased drastically to 667 pupils with more seeking to be enrolled.
“The classrooms and teachers are insufficient to meet the demand for education. For instance, 100 pupils are forced to squeeze themselves into a classroom designed to accommodate only 30 pupils.
“Due to lack of classes, when some of them bring their children we reject them on the excuse that we have closed registration. There is nothing we can do since we don’t have enough classes to admit more students anymore.
“We need government to construct more class rooms for us, to provide enough chairs as well as engage more teachers’’, Falke said.
He expressed worry that the absence of teachers as well as critical facility like furniture and additional classrooms can discourage pupils from attending to school.
“The teachers are very important. The furniture is very important to the school as well, but we don’t have enough and that can affect the number of students in school because the interest is not there’’.
The Kebbi State Government had revealed that it has concluded the recruitment process of 2,000 ⁶new teachers to teach in some primary and secondary schools in the state.
Commissioner for Education, Kebbi State, Alhaji Muhammadu Magawata Aliero, disclosed this to newsmen on the sidelines of a two-day media dialogue on Cash Transfer Programme implemented by UNICEF in the state.
He, however, raised concern about the influx of children from neighbouring countries of Benin and Niger to either take advantage of the free education being offered in the state or engage in street hawking.
He admitted that there was shortage of teachers to carry out effective teaching in the schools as a result of increase in enrolment, saying this informed the decision of the State Governor, Atiku Abubakar Bagudu to initiate the process of employing additional teachers.
Aliero, said offer letters for the 2,000 new teachers were ready for distribution to them, adding that efforts were also on top gear to improve on the existing infrastructure at all levels of education in order to improve quality of teaching and learning in the state.
He said: “Throughout this month (April), I was away to some local governments because we are recruiting about 2000 teachers.
“I went to all the local government headquarters and we have finished the recruitment of 2000. We will start releasing the offer letter in few days, Insha Allah. We designed a very nice format, where we will give automatic offer to anyone who made ‘A’,” he said.
Kebbi and Zamfara are regarded as educationally disadvantaged states in the country, but the Commissioner said by 2020, the number of out-of-school children would be very low.
He expressed optimism that based on the ongoing efforts, Kebbi state would be the “least in the north with out-of-school children.”
UNICEF targets to retain 501,749 out-of-school children by 2020
Meanwhile UNICEF has said that its target is to ensure the return of about 501,749 out-of-school children to school by 2020 in Kastina, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara states.
Isah Usman, Kebbi state project coordinator EAC/UNICEF said the cash transfer programme under the EAC is aimed at expanding access to quality basic education as well as ensuring improved quality of teaching and learning environment in target states.
“The Cash transfer intervention under the EAC aims at reaching 41,391 child beneficiaries and their female caregivers in four years: 31,044 in Kebbi State and 10,347 in Zamfara State.
In the first year in Kebbi State, the programme ran in the local government areas (LGAs) of Danko-Wasagu, Suru and Maiyama and will be expanded to Argungu, Bagudo, Dandi, Gwandu, Koko-Besse and Shanga LGAs in the following years”, he said.
Usman, while presenting an overview of the cash transfer programme in Kebbi, revealed that Kebbi and Zamfara States have higher number of out- of- school children, of which majority are girls, despite the fact that primary Education is officially free and compulsory, and these States are guided by this policy and the UBE Act (2004).
According to him, poor education indicators in the States are partly driven by social attitudes towards ‘western’ education, and poverty of parents, especially in rural communities.
“The poverty level of rural community members largely restricts their level of participation in the education of their children. Majority of them cannot afford to purchase basic learning materials; not to even support school infrastructural development”.
He said “the Cash Transfer Programme addresses some of the underlying causes of inequalities in education outcomes, such as poverty, social exclusion and malnutrition as it promotes regular source of income, allows extremely poor households to eat better food more regularly, leading to improved nutritional status essential for children’s cognitive development and ability to benefit meaningfully from school.
“Education in turn, will lead to healthier children and these benefits will be passed on to the next generation.
“Evidence shows that in Africa, children of mothers who received five years of primary Education are 40% more likely to live beyond the age of five.”
Speaking further, Usman explained that seven strategic interventions have been selected for the partnership with EAC which will enable UNICEF and its partners to reach more out-of-school children in Kebbi and Zamfara States, adding that the interventions are form of social protection aimed at reducing the financial burden on families to enroll and keep these children in school.
“The proposed interventions under the partnership with EAC are in line with UNICEF’s vision and mission of realising children’s rights, including their right to education and with EAC’s mission, vision and goals, focusing on out-of-school children and quality education for them”.
“Major priorities for the project include massive awareness, poverty mitigation, women self-decorum, income generation options, increase in enrollment, improved learning performance(s)”, he added.
64 schools currently benefiting from CTP programme in Kebbi
In the meantime, the Education Secretary, Mayama LGA, Bello Labbo had said that about 64 schools in the community are currently benefiting from the programme.
While calling on the state government and stakeholders to look into the issue of infrastructure, he added that the number of enrolment is outgrowing the available facilities.
“There are chairs, but they are inadequate and so the children sit on the ground. The enrolment before the intervention of UNICEF was very poor, but since the introduction of the CTP, it has been overwhelming’’, he explained.
Under the programme, pupils are given the sum of N24, 000 every year through the female caregivers like their mothers, to enroll, stay in school and complete their education.
In some local governments in Kebbi State, it was discovered that the programme is yielding a wide range of positive outcome.
Some beneficiaries of the programme revealed that they are already using part of the money to purchase food, invest in agriculture and pay for their medical and educational expenses as well as investing part in small business.