By Fareed Ibrahim
Over the last decade, Zamfara State has been the most badly affected by the menace of banditry in the North West. The state and victims have encountered several material and non-material losses. Many people have been killed, displaced, and more widows and orphans are increasingly rolling out from different corners of the state. In addition to the nationwide economic challenges, banditry has added more economic challenges to the list of unbearable life challenges in Zamfara. Farmers have lost their farms and zeal to farm for fear of the dreaded bandits.
Owing to a lack of organised and accessible healthcare facilities across the state, life is becoming more unbearable by the day. In confirmation of all these, even the Zamfara State government has agreed that the security of the people is in danger. More so, many non-governmental organisations have rolled out multiple reports indicating the multifaceted and severe humanitarian conditions afflicting the people with more tendencies to deteriorate in the future.
One important sector that banditry has destroyed in Zamfara State is education. Previously, different reports had identified the state as educationally backward since its creation in 1996. Successive governments have tried their best to ameliorate this fundamental challenge. Unfortunately, instead of what seemed to be a positive development, the sector kept declining, leaving children in the state going out of school and moving farther from the schools.
While banditry has chased almost every contributor away from the state, we, the indigenous people, equally find it traumatising, challenging, and unbearable, especially considering children’s future without education. At the moment, reports from the federal government and Zamfara State government have classified the state as one with the most out-of-school children.
Dear stakeholders, are you aware that in Zamfara State, education so far is not about the provision of a conducive learning environment? The fact has been the shortage of schools, even the dilapidated ones, teachers and educators, and the state government’s low-key political will to reverse the situation, inadequate budgetary allocation, high cost of education, poor planning, non-utilisation of educational researches, etc.
Furthermore, more traumatising has been our findings that two in every three children are out of school, and the humanitarian crisis in the state has led to an increase in child labour, child abuse, and early marriage. We believe that education is a right the state should provide for every child in Zamfara. At the same time, we believe that the state brags for adopting the SDGs, and education as an important goal should be reconsidered. It should be prioritised through partnerships and collaboration with relevant stakeholders at the grassroots and non-governmental organisations. This will drive the much-anticipated development of the state by making its people more educated, reasonable, respectable, and loved.
Therefore, we feel that a “State of Emergency” should be declared on the sector to enable the incoming administration to battle the state’s educational retrogression. The more reinvigorated efforts from the “State of Emergency” will bring about urgent attention to the issues facing the sector, which will lead to more collaborations, the allocation of more resources, the recruitment of qualified teachers, and the provision of better infrastructure for schools, help to address the gender disparities in education and ensure that girls have equal access to quality education. This effort will help in re-configuring the sector with a well-defined policy framework plan whereby the next five years will have tackled most of these challenges, and the sector will feature its best.
Fareed Ibrahim is the Founder/Team Lead, Smart Aid Initiative Gusau, Zamfara State.