Hundreds of school children in Gadawa community and neighbouring villages in Danmusa Local Government Area of Katsina State were sent out of school as a military unit camped in their primary school.
Following the widely condemned abduction of over 300 secondary school students in Kankara and incessant banditry attacks at the time in Danmusa and Dutsinma local government areas, a military unit was set up in the area to curb the security challenges.
Gadawa village, which is in Damusa Local Government and situated along the Dutsinma Kankara road, became a perfect location for the military camp, with Gadawa Primary School taken over as a ready-made infrastructure for the unit.
The school, according to locals, hitherto had up to 370 pupils from Gadawa and neighbouring villages. However, with the military takeover of the facility, many pupils were forced out of school.
Few parents who can afford daily transport of their wards to and from school have transferred their children to other schools at Yantumaki and other towns, which are miles away from the community.
Other residents who could not afford to send their children to other places had made efforts at the community level to secure a place for their children’s education, but their efforts were far from enough.
When our correspondent visited the area, he gathered that about 70 children, who constituted 20 per cent of the pupils, were still attending classes in an uncompleted mud house that has neither roof nor doors and windows, a situation that makes their condition of learning deplorable.
It was around midday but the temporary school had already closed as the pupils could not study under the scorching sun on the day, and their few metal seats were terribly hot.
The building itself, which is just three rooms, apart from its uncompleted state, is by far less than enough to accommodate up to 70 pupils comfortably; hence, others had to sit outside, Daily Trust Saturday gathered.
Lamenting over the situation, some of the parents expressed dismay, saying they had made several attempts to reach out to the government but failed.
Mallam Auwal Lawal said, “Actually, we used to have about 370 pupils in that school, but unfortunately, majority of them are now roaming the streets while others help their parents to hawk goods”
“The building where our children are learning is not habitable. It doesn’t have roof. And the children cannot sit in the mud. In this hot season, the children are equally not comfortable there. We are approaching the harmattan season and you can imagine how cold the place will be without roof, doors and windows.”
He said that given the condition of the school, the community had a bleak future as majority of its children would not be able to get good education.
He, however, said they were not complaining about the presence of soldiers in their area as they are helping to curb the menace of banditry, but added that there was urgent need to provide a good school for their children.
“Government may decide to provide another camp for the army and return our school to us or build another school for our children,” he said.
Another resident of the community, Tasiu Ummaru, said it was unfortunate that some children who completed their primary education in the school could not correctly write their names due to poor teaching and learning environment.
“We made attempts to provide a temporary place for our children. At first, one Sani Mai Lemo gave us his house, but he suspected that the government was paying the rent and the money was not going to him, so he ejected the children, saying they were destroying his doors and windows.
“Another man, Malam Sabitu, gave us his own, but he later got married and collected his house. Then we made a makeshift thatched awning along the road, but we were warned that it was tantamount to embarrassment on the side of the government if pupils were seen learning under such a structure,” he said.
He said the house they eventually got was without roof, doors and windows, as well as enough seats for the pupils. He appealed to the government to come to their rescue.
Dayyanu Sani, the secretary of Nasara Youth Development Association in Gadawa community, explained how they made several attempts to reach out to the government for help but were later told that they could not see the local education authorities to lodge their complaint.
“We first sat at our association level and discussed the way out of the deteriorating state of education for our young ones. We then took the matter to the elders of our community, and together, we decided to take the matter to the Danmusa Local Education Authority after consulting the teachers of the affected school. But unfortunately, after several attempts, we couldn’t get our complaints through,” he said.
He also reiterated the call to either relocate the military camp to another place around the area or construct another school for the children.
The ward head of Gadawa said he could not comment on the matter without clearance from his village head, who would in turn get clearance from the district head. However, his brother, Shitu Muhammad Gadawa, appealed for quick government’s intervention into the situation.
“It is said that the difference between an uneducated person and a donkey is the absence of a tail. So we are appealing to the government to look into this matter and save our children.
“We have children from Gadawa here, known as Sabon Garin Dan’Ali. There is another Gadawa, which is the old village from where our village got its name. There are also pupils from Hawan Dan Maigyada village and those from several Fulani hamlets around this area who were attending this primary school before it was taken over. Most of them, especially the Fulani children, have dropped out,” he said.
He said that even most of the teachers were not paying much attention to their duties due to lack of a befitting place. He alleged that they only come to sign the attendance register.
“Some of the teachers spend days without going into the class to teach. They only sign the attendance register and leave so that they will not be caught.
“I am appealing to the government to help our children because without education, some of them will develop some bad habits, which will not be good for all of us,” he pleaded.
An attempt to talk to the military at the camp hit a stone wall as they claimed that their head, a major, was not there at the moment, saying he had gone to Yantumaki village, and without his permission, nothing could be done.
When contacted, the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs in the state, Dr Nasir Babangida Mu’azu, said he was new in the office and had not been briefed about the situation. He, however, promised to take the matter up.
“You are just reporting the matter to me. I will talk to the commissioner for basic and secondary education, and from there, we will see what to do about it,” he said.
When contacted on whether the state education authorities have a plan to either relocate the pupils to another school or build another for them, the Director of Physical Planning of the state universal basic education (SUBEB) Garba Sule Mashi, said he would take up the matter to the chairman of the board, who is currently out of the country, as soon as he returns.
“As you know, education is one of this administration’s top priorities, and I can assure you that something will be done. What will be done is not for me to say now as our chairman has gone out on a working visit, but we are expecting them back this weekend, and I will take yp the matter to him as soon as he has returned,” he said.