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Author Name: Suleiman Nasiru
Number of articles: 76
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Nigeria: When the village child demands for a better education
Author: Suleiman Nasiru | December 14, 2014

From all indications, Nigeria is nowhere near the attainment of the educational goal of the MDGs sets some 14 years ago. Putting all variables of measurement into perspective such as access to education, quality of education, basic education infrastructure, and instructional material among others, it is clear that more is required to be done especially in the rural areas where basic infrastructure is lacking and the level of awareness is grossly inadequate.It was a shocking eye-opener when ActionAid Nigeria in collaboration with a Kaduna-based NGO, Hope for the Village Child went to some villages in Kaduna state for advocacy and sensitization exercise on the imperative of children getting access to quality education and how they can also participate in the advocacy with a focus on children with disability and how to get them back to school. It could be recalled that in the year 2000 world leaders gathered together and signed up some sets of commitment that would make the world better. Part of the commitments signed in the year 2000 stated that by 2015 every child in the world should have access to qualitative education. 2015 is around the corner and many countries are yet to attain this goal of education for all, Nigeria inclusive. Research findings indicated that there are about 57 million children out of school in the world and 24 million children with disability form part of this number. This revelation has prompted children across the globe to speak up for the right of children  to access quality education and to also reminds world leaders of their promises that all children should get the chance to go to school. Campaign to this effect has sprung up with the slogan “Send my Friend to School”. It was this campaign that took Actionaid Nigeria and Hope for the Village Child an NGO involved in the advocacy and promotion of quality and relevant education particularly in rural areas to some villages in Kajuru, Igabi, and Chikun Local government areas of Kaduna state in the process the  following villages were visited, Ekuzeh, Panja and Kasuwan Magani in Kajuru local government area, Gwaraji, Panzanto in Igabi local government area while in Chikun local government area  Kujama and  Maraban Rido were visited. The various challenges witnessed at the various places visited are numerous among which are lack of adequate education infrastructure, shortage of teachers. And worse of all the pupils are left behind in terms of quality of education as most pupils in the Primary schools  could hardly read, to communicate in English is a problem, except for the secondary schools in Kasuwan Magani, Kujama and Maraban Rido. For little Joy Tagwai reading and writing is a problem and she wanted to know how to read and write. Joy is a primary 5 pupil in Panja LGEA primary school in Kajuru local government area of Kaduna state. The little girl opened up when her school was visited by the team from Actionaid led by Osamudiamen Owns Ibie Actionaid Education Programme Officer for the advocacy campaign of send my friend to school. Joy who was responding to a teaching on disability and education by the former Education Secretary of Kajuru Local Government Mr. George Danwazah said the school lack adequate infrastructure, like chalk-board, lack of adequate seat, which she said if   provided, she would be happy. Also speaking was a primary 4 pupils Salina Emmanuel who said sports facilities and good toilet facilities are some of the challenges they have while Dorothy Adamu and Thomas Daniel all of primary 6 revealed that the school lack adequate teachers and this was confirmed by the village head of Panja Malam Kaduna Jida, who said the school is understaffed putting the number of pupils in the school side-by-side the number of teachers. Mallam Jida said in terms of population, he doubt if there is any village within the district that can be compared to Panja, but yet they lack adequate teachers. He said worse of all the community does not have a secondary school,  which he pleaded with government to locate a secondary school in the village, so that their children would not have to trek long distances to access secondary education again. Another community visited in Kajuru local government was Ekuzeh here it could be observed that  most of the pupils sat on bare floor to study, most of the classes lack chalk-board (blackboard), and  some of the infrastructures were dilapidated. When contacted one of the staff said most parents want their children to be in school, but funding is a major problem. He said though primary education is free, but after primary the children ends their education and this is a major challenge. He said the teachers are not finding it easy, that in most cases they used their personal resources to do certain things in the school. "We contributed money to provide the concrete floor in these new classes you see the children sitting down." He said the teachers in some cases have to contribute financially to some of the pupils to further their education to secondary level in Rimau or Kasuwan Magani, because Ekuzeh don't have a secondary school. Also speaking at Ekuzeh were the following pupils; Florence Ladan, Halima Alkali and James Iliya, who said the school lack adequate teaching staff and this is a major challenged, which they pleaded with government to help their school with basic education facilities. It was the same issue in Gwaraji a community in Igabi local government area of Kaduna state where students and the community blamed lack of teachers, inadequate infrastructure among other challenges facing the school in the community. On arrival at the school premises only the school principal was seen teaching at the secondary school, but the primary school have more than four teachers. When the principal was asked of the where about of other teachers he gave excuses to include lack of secured accommodation, poor turnout of students, among other issues, which he said are the reasons most teachers don't like staying in the village. He complained bitter of the situation, which he described as discouraging. But the District Head Alhaji Bala Ali Waziri swiftly counter the Principal's claim and said most of the teachers complained of lack of accommodation and the community complained to the appropriate authority, who in turn built a staff quarter to encourage the teachers stay, but unfortunately the quarters seems not to be the issue, because despite building the quarter, the teachers are still not staying in the village. In Panzato also in Igabi Local Government area, it was the same issue there it was only the Headmaster that was seen around battling with the children. The school has a deaf pupil without a special educationist as a teacher, which means the deaf child being in the school is of no use, since no teacher to cater for her education needs. Also visited were government secondary school Kasuwan Magani, Government Secondary school Kujama and government secondary school Mararaba-Rido. Responding to the pupils' plea for more teachers, the former Education Secretary Mr. George Danwazah said the issue is beyond the teachers' board to employed additional teachers to all these areas, because since August 2011, government has placed embargo on employment and replacement of teachers at the primary level and this is a big challenge. But Mrs. Laraba Kantoman Education Secretary of Chikun Local Government area advised some of the communities to support government through the organization of School Base Management Committee SBMC/PTA and to also involve in other community based activities to promote education. During the advocacy in all the school visited a number of activities took place such as film show, teaching on Education and disability, which was anchored by Education Secretary of Chikun Local Government area, Mrs. Laraba Kantoman and the former Education Secretary of Kajuru Local Government Mr. George Danwazah. The children were challenged and a great number of them made the promised and pledged to speak up for other children to have access to quality education, particularly children with disability.

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