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How poor condition of Sokoto nomadic schools forces herders to withdraw children

The move to boost education among herders through nomadic schools in Sokoto State has suffered setbacks due to dilapidated structures and poor condition of the…

The move to boost education among herders through nomadic schools in Sokoto State has suffered setbacks due to dilapidated structures and poor condition of the schools, Daily Trust reports.

Muhammadu Shehu, chairman of the School Based Management Committee (SBMC) of Fandirma community in Wamakko Local Government Area of Sokoto State, has withdrawn his two children because he was dissatisfied with the condition of the school.  

He, however, described the decision as “painful but inevitable” because the atmosphere in the school was no longer conducive for learning.

“The school is an eyesore. The only things one can see there are human faeces, broken chairs and reptiles.  

“You can’t expect me to allow my children attend such school because they may contract diseases,” he said.

He said that over 200 children attended the school before its condition became bad, adding that many parents and guardians withdrew their children for the same reason.

He noted that they had been making frantic efforts to draw the attention of government to their plight but to no avail.

“We complained to the agency in charge of nomadic education but nothing has been done about the situation. It is like the government is no longer interested in nomadic education,” he lamented.

Our correspondent observed that the school, which is located by the main road leading to the community, has only three classrooms, all with very bad ceilings, broken chairs and tables.

The school also lacks toilet facilities; hence children and their teachers rush into the bush when highly pressed.  

Shehu, therefore, appealed to the state government to rescue the school by building the necessary facilities.  

It is the same story at Hamman Ali Nomadic School in the eastern part of Sokoto State, where bandits hold sway.  

Hamman Ali is one of the nomadic communities in Kware Local Government Area of the state, where the current deputy governor hails from.  

Our correspondent who visited the school observed that its roof was blown off by windstorm since 2018.  

It was also observed that the school is located inside the main market of the community, a situation that makes it difficult for the children to concentrate.

It was further gathered that the school ceases to operate during the rainy season since its roof was blown off.

It is believed that many parents withdrew their children from the school and sent them to almajiri centres in various cities.

Malam Abdullahi Umar, a volunteer security guard of the school said, “Before now, the school was full to capacity, to the extent that some of the pupils took lessons under trees because the three classrooms were overwhelmed. But this is now history as nomads are no more interested in sending their children to the school because government has refused to repair it. The situation is bad.”

In addition to noise from the market, pupils sit on bare floor to receive lessons.

Chairman of the SBMC, Abubakar Tudu told Daily Trust Saturday that members of the committee had been contributing money for minor renovations in the school before its condition deteriorated.   

Tudu, however, said his children were still attending the school despite its numerous challenges.

“I know there are many challenges but we don’t have any option. This is the only school for the children of nomads in this place. I am getting old, so you can’t expect me to take my children to the cities like others. I need them by my side. I need their support.

“I am appealing to the state government to renovate the school,” he said

However, at Beggel nomadic community in southern Sokoto, the story is different as the school there is well furnished, courtesy of the World Bank-funded programme, Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA).

Beggel is located close to the hometown of the present Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammadu Maigari Dingyadi in Bodinga Local Government.

Although the school equally lacks toilet facilities, it is better than other nomadic schools visited by our correspondent. This could be attributed to its location and efforts of the SBMC in the area.

The school is located close to the residence of the village head, who is also the chairman of its SBMC.

The village head, Muhammad Beggel, told our correspondent that there was no much challenge in Beggel school.

“We have enough teachers; and new sitting facilities were just provided.

“The only problem we have is lack of toilet facility for both staff and the pupils. Teachers have been complaining over the matter but we cannot help. We hope the government would look into it and do something urgent to solve the problem.

“We also need additional classrooms because the three we have are overcrowded, to the extent that some of the pupils take lessons under trees,” he said

Sokoto nomadic agency reacts

A member of staff of the Sokoto State Agency for Nomadic Education who sought for anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to the press blamed the state government for not paying attention to nomadic education in the state.

He said, “We have 83 nomadic schools spread across the 23 local government areas of the state but we don’t have the capacity to monitor and evaluate their performance.

“The two vehicles we have are grounded and we don’t have the means of repairing them. The last time we received our monthly cash allocation of N120,000 was in 2018.

Daily Trust Saturday learnt that even budgetary allocations meant to carry out renovation works and provide teaching and learning aids have not been released since 2017.

It was learnt that N100 million, N50m, N50m were allocated for capital projects in 2020, 2021 and 2022 budgets and released to the agency.

The staff of the agency further noted that their teachers contributed money to buy stationeries to keep the school going, adding, “There was a time we got approval to renovate 10 schools but there was no cash backing.

Corroborating this claim, the executive director of the agency, Abdullahi Abubakar Bangala, said majority of the  87 primary and three junior secondary schools under their watch required total renovation.

He admitted that they had not been getting cash allocations, but assured that it would be restored very soon, saying, “The governor has promised to restore our cash allocations before the end of the year.”

Bangala disclosed that 158 teachers were recruited for nomadic schools recently, bringing the total number of their teachers to 271.

He lamented that the security situation in the state, especially in the eastern part, was hindering the operation of nomadic schools. He recalled that three nomadic schools were burnt down by bandits in Rabah Local Government Area.

He also lamented that their teachers were not considered for routine training until recently when the new executive chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, Alhaji Altine Kajiji, enlisted some of them for a special course.

‘What do they need money for?’ 

The Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education in the state, Bello Muhammad Gwiwa, however, noted that the agency lacked the mandate to execute capital projects, wondering what it needs money for.

He said, “They don’t have the mandate to execute capital projects. It is the State Universal Basic Education Board that executes such projects for them, so what do they need cash allocation for? 

On nomads that are withdrawing their children because of the condition of their schools he said, “It is like you don’t understand the meaning of nomads. They are people who move around in search of grazing areas for their livestock. The schools are targeted at them. They used to be mobile schools, but later, permanent structures were put in place for nomadic education in places known to be their camps.

“Couldn’t that man who withdrew his children from Fandirma bring them to Gwiwa where we have several conventional schools?” He asked.

On the condition of the schools, Gwiwa said, “There are many conventional schools with blown off roofs and dilapidated structures. And this is not peculiar to Sokoto State. Any state you go you will see this kind of problem.” 

He said that since his appointment as the commissioner in charge of the ministry, he had not received any memo from the agency concerning renovation or construction of any project.

We’ll intervene – SUBEB chairman 

Meanwhile, the executive chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Alhaji Altine Shehu Kajiji, has promised to include nomadic education in the scheme of things.

“Our mandate covers basic education and nomadic schools are part of it. Henceforth, we will consider them in our activities, including provision of capital projects, distribution of teaching and learning aides,” he said  

He said some of their teachers were part of the training organised recently.  

Banditry is a result of long neglect of nomadic education – Political scientist  

A lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Professor Yahya T. Baba, said banditry was one of the many consequences of long time neglect of nomadic education by the government.  

He said, “The present insecurity in the North is as a result of the inability of government to educate and enlighten nomads so that in the absence of animals they could engage in other professions.  

“Most of the herders lost their animals because natural resources are shrinking and they must devise another means of survival and protection against their perceived enemies.”

This project was funded by Daily Trust Foundation with the Support of MacArthur Foundation.

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