Some times in 2019, development Research and Project Centre (dRPC), a nongovernmental organisation initiated a project to help reduce number of out of school children, particularly in Kano and Jigawa states.
The project, which started in 2019 targets ladies who just concluded their secondary education, to help set up Early Child Development (ECD) schools in their immediate communities.
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The schools’ target are children who are below school age, with the intention of teaching them some basic literacy, untill they attain primary school age.
The schools were established with the dual purpose purpose of making the lady school leavers, mostly in their early 20s, self-reliant after completing their secondary education and before proceeding to tertiary level, as well as to increase literacy rate among children in the two states.
When the project started, 40 girls were selected from the two states (20 from each) and were empowered to start it.
Most of the proprietresses use their houses and those of their immediate neighbors as classrooms to teach the pupils.
Interestingly, many of these schools have now grown from being run by only their proprietresses, to recruiting more hands to help them in running them.
In fact, findings by Daily Trust revealed that some of these schools have now even advanced to the level of starting primary schools.
The project was initially part of the MacArthur Foundation funded Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE) project, which reached 33 secondary school girls in 5 years. It has ended in 2019, but the NGO keep sustaining it thus far.
My school now has over 250 pupils – Khadija
Khadija Yusuf Abubakar, a lady in her early 20s is presently running one of the most successful ECDs inside her parents’ house at Gobirawa area of Dala local government area of Kano state.
According to her, after the initial grant of setting up the school, her school, Aminchi International School, which started with not more than 100 pupils, presently has over 250.
She said, “When we started, I printed forms and shared to parents in their houses and asked them to enroll their wards in it for basic literacy classes.
“I used to charge N500 per form, and I started with close to 100 pupils. Then it was just this class in our house, but I later got two other rooms from the house opposite ours. Now I have about five classes, with over N250 pupils and five other supporting staff.
“The school is gradually growing from ECD to having primary section. We shall start running primary section fully soon.
“We usually teach them English, Arithmetic, Physical and Health Education, Islamic Studies, Hausa and Food and Nutrition” she said.
Khadija also said the school charges N200 monthly, and a reasonable amount of the money gows to the daily running of the school.
On the challenges facing her school, the proprietress said classrooms are her main area of concern, except for some local health authorities who often try to forcefully vaccinate the pupils without their parents’ prior permission.
Asked about where she sees her school in the future, Khadija said she has a dream of growing it to the level of having her own university.
She said as the result of what she is able to achieve within three years, at least five other similar schools have sprung close to her’s.
‘I completed NCE from the schools savings’
While all the girls initiated into the project were fresh secondary school leavers, who may not transit to tertiary institutions immediately, some of them, courtesy of the project, have been able to pursue additional certificates.
Safiyya Abdullahi Gwarzo, who owns Safiyya ECD Classes School, said she has been able to start and complete her NCE program at the state-owned Sa’adatu Rimi College of Education, Kano.
“My school is in Gwarzo local government and I presently have four teaching staff and 60 students. Alhamdulillah, I can say I am now a duly certified teacher,” Safiyya added.
In Dutse, Jigawa state capital, Halima Abubakar Bello is one of the lady proprietresses, who said she is also witnessing gradual improvement in her school and hopes to grow it beyond its present status.
Project has lived up to its objectives – dRPC
Commenting on the schools’ performance so far, one of the dRPC’s project Coordinators, Umar Ahmed Umar, said with what they have accessed so far, the program can be said to be successful.
“Our initial aim was to empower these ladies economically to be self-reliant after their secondary education, as well as to increase literacy level in the two selected states of Kano and Jigawa. We have been working with all the relevant stakeholders in the two states since inception,” Umar added.
He said the number of students in all the schools has grown substantially from the initial 600 to the present 1446.
The NGO has also organised visitations to some of these successful schools and a cross-learning sessions for the ladies to share their experiences on how they are able to prosper, for their colleagues to emulate.
During the visitations, the schools were given water containers, mats, blackboards, books, students’ registers writing materials and educational charts.
The cross-learning session, according to dRPC Consultant, Aisha Bello, was for experience sharing and sustainability meeting for ECD schools in the two states.
She said, “We organised this experience sharing session with parents and husbands of these ladies for us to talk to them on ways they could help them to grow.”