Five years on, Future Prowess, a private formal school with solid Islamic foundation based in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital has been putting smiles on the faces of orphans in the state.
However, since 2009 when security and safety of lives became a nightmare in Borno State, particularly in Maiduguri, Jere and other local government areas close to the state capital, the number of children that became orphans rose astronomically.
The burden of single parenthood makes many widows to throw in the towel by allowing their children to fend for themselves either by hawking or by roaming the streets begging for what to eat.
To greater extent, this posture has posed enormous challenges to some well meaning individuals.
One of them is Barrister Zanna, a legal practitioner cum philanthropist.
His school, the Future Prowess, which was initially meant to shoulder the burden of children orphaned by natural causes, is now a home to hundreds of children while thousands of others are aspiring to get a placement in order to have a brighter future.
Findings by Weekly Trust show that the idea behind the establishment of the school as a non -profit organization did not change. This is despite increasing demand from the pupils as well as the dwindling fortunes of business in Maiduguri and other parts of the north.
According to the headmaster of the school, Sulaiman Aliyu, the mission of setting up the school was to reduce the number of children roaming the streets of Maiduguri. He added that the founder of the school has remained resolute in keeping to his promise.
His words: “Our mission is to reduce the number of children roaming the streets because they are the leaders of tomorrow…the essence of the training we are giving them is to ensure that they become leaders of tomorrow with sound moral upbringing,” he said.
At the registry, it was gathered that the population of pupils in the school stands at 350, with orphans from different background constituting over 90 percent.
“At present, we have about 1000 applications with us which are waiting for screening,’’ the headmaster said.
He said the school takes care of the pupils hundred percent. “We give them free education, free uniform, exercise books, sandals and also feeds them daily.
“Though we are running a day school due to limited space, but the school is responsible for providing the pupils with breakfast and other necessary things to make their study easier. At the end of every day, the pupils go back to their guardians,’’ the headmaster said.
A walk at the school premises reveals a modest institution with basic facilities for learning and scholarship.
The facilities in the school include seven classrooms, headmaster’s office, a computer workshop and a fish pond.
There are 17 teaching staff and four non teaching staff.
“We teach the children both Islamic and western education and the curriculum of the school is the one designed by the ministry of education,’’ the headmaster said.
The school had recently graduated its first set of pupils who are now in various secondary schools in Maiduguri and some parts of the country.
“We have graduated 48 pupils. They are the first set of pupils and most of them are now in various schools in some part of the country,” the headmaster said.
He added that the school does assist the orphans with food stuff, books detergent and other things needed so that they can remain in school.
Asked on how the school sustains itself, the headmaster said, “Funding basically comes from the director of the school who is also the founder.
“The director makes sure he goes his own way to source for fund for the sustenance of the school, including the paying of the teachers’ salaries, overhead and the day to day running of the school.
“We also have a fish pond which serves as revenue for the school and I am happy to inform you that some well meaning individuals including elder statesman, Dr Shettima Ali Monguno, Senator Ali Ndume, the Borno state commissioner for education, Inuwa Kubo, wife of the governor, Hajiya Nana Kashim Shettima and other individuals are assisting the school in their own little way,’’ he said.
“Whenever we are in need of money, we sell the fish to address the problem,’’ he added.
The head teacher admitted that the main problem facing the school is the problem of funding and therefore called on the state government to assist the school to expand.
“This is a school for pupils with special needs…I am sure you know what it means to be an orphan,” he said.
“The founder has refused to allow the increasing challenges of managing the school to weigh him down. He is always willing to give his last kobo for activities here to move on,” he said.
“Believe me, the school will keep on expanding if we can get more of the assistance we are getting now. I am calling on the state government to come to our assistance in order to give orphans a sound education so that the number of children roaming the streets aimlessly will reduce.
Nana Khadija, a nine year old pupil in the school said she hopes to become a nurse after she completes her studies.
“I lost my father when I was five and instantly dropped out of school because my mother could not sponsor me. Alhamdu Lillah I am now back in school,” she said.