Since the state government introduced a school feeding programme, the student population at LEA Maraban Jos in Igabi, Kaduna, has multiplied. With about 200 students in one classroom, the school desperately needed a new building. One man decided to intervene and change the story, as Daily Trust reports.
Residents whose children had struggled for space and chairs at LEA Maraban Jos, in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, couldn’t hide their joy when 30 blocks of 60 classrooms were recently constructed for the community by a philanthropist working with partners.
It was a memorable day when the school was commissioned on Children’s Day as pupils and residents trooped out in their numbers to witness the commissioning by Ummi El-Rufai, wife of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
Before the new building was commissioned, the population of 12,000 students had been cramped in few classrooms with as many as 200 students in a class.
The school was designed for a population of 500 students. However, the state government’s free feeding programme for schools saw the population shoot up to 12,000, leading to congestion.
The school’s Headmaster, Salisu Abdulsalam, said with the increase in population at the old site, it became almost unbearable to teach a class of between 150 and 200 pupils.
The impact on learning, he said, has been degrading.
The new classrooms allow them to accommodate just 40 students per class. All of them will be properly seated, two pupils per desk.
“We are very happy with the new development because this has reduced the congestion in our classes,” he said with a smile.
Daily Trust reports that the newly constructed school building is well-designed and stands opposite the Fifth Chucker Resort on the outskirt of Maraban Jos, along the Kaduna-Saminaka highway.
For the commissioning, excited pupils gathered at the school premises as early as 7 am, sitting in their classrooms awaiting the arrival of guests.
The school management clarified that senior students from primary 4-6 will occupy the new buildings to decongest the old school while the others will remain in the old building.
A nine-year-old primary four pupil, Hussaini Abdullahi, also joined in the excitement. He told Daily Trust that the new classes are better than the old ones, which he said was characterized by congestion and lack of infrastructure.
“This class,” he said, standing in one of the new classrooms, “is better than my former class and we are happy to be here because the classes here will be less congested and the chairs are good.”
Similarly, 11-year-old Rabi’atu Kabiru described her new school as the best.
“We are not so many in the class now compared to our former classes where we hardly find a place to sit due to congestion,” she said.
Why we built 60 new classrooms- Philanthropist
The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fifth Chucker Resorts, Alhaji Adamu Attah constructed the new school in partnership with Access Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Alhaji Attah said the school was part of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to the community.
Explaining what prompted the gesture, he said, “About 15 years ago, I was approached to help build a fence for the school because of insecurity. I decided to see the school and when I went there, I decided to adopt the school and contacted development partners like UNICEF.
“UNICEF provided computers, books and teaching aids and for about 15 years, we had this partnership but 12 years ago we asked Access Bank to also be a partner in the project and they agreed. We thanked God the partnership has been successful,” he said.
According to him, in 2019 he visited the school again and discovered that because of the state’s school feeding programme, the student population had grown from 500 to 12,000 pupils and the classrooms were no longer adequate.
“So, we decided to build a brand-new school for the 12,000 children. We choose the site and six months later built 50 per cent of the school. What we require is 120 classrooms but we have 60 classrooms. The 2020 pandemic forced us to slow down but the advantage is that we had to introduce virtual teaching by introducing internet facilities in the school,” he said.
He said there is a plan to also teach the older pupils from the school and communities skills like carpentry, tailoring and poultry with the hope that at their lives would be better with additional skills.
To help children from neighbouring communities access the school, he said he would build a pedestrian bridge along the Kaduna-Zaria expressway for children from neighbouring communities to have access to the school.
Ummi El-Rufai, while commending the gesture urged other wealthy individuals to emulate the philanthropist and support projects that impact the lives of people and communities.
Also speaking, the School-Based Management Committee (SBMC) Chairman of the school, Shehu Mohammed, commended the philanthropist and other partners for constructing the new blocks of classrooms for the community.
He explained that the 60 classes will provide better opportunities for the children of the poor in the rural areas to be educated.
The community leader, Malam Ibrahim Sidi (Sarkin Kudun Maraban Jos) also thanked Alhaji Adamu Attah and his copartners saying: “This is a gift for generations to come because only God knows the number of children that will pass through this school from Maraban Jos community and its environs.”
The Kaduna State Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Shehu Mohammad Makarfi said the state government was impressed with the prospect of the school especially in the area of ICT and assured the community it will give it all the needed support to make it a model in the state.
He said the government will also fulfil its promises by providing additional classrooms in the school.