Sustaining UNICEF’s GEP3 legacies in Katsina
Over 1,000 teachers from 12 local governments received training on Reading and Numeracy Activities, RANA; while 292 schools in 9 local governments witnessed improved girls’ enrolment under G4G, and over 1,000 Quranic schools, 200 in each of the 12 targeted local governments, benefited from the HASKE programme- all under GEP3. As the programme winds down in December 2020, Godfrey AKON reports on efforts to sustain its interventions.
Eight years after the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, commenced implementation of the Girls Education Programme, GEP3, in northern Nigeria, the project has markedly revved up girls’ enrolment in Katsina State.
One of its bouquets of interventions, the G4G initiative, which was applied from 2018 to 2020 also became a game-changer in decades of efforts to improve girls’ enrolment and vocational skills.
The G4G initiative was aimed at improving girls’ retention in schools and empowering them with leadership and life skills to become a voice for girls’ education in northern Nigeria.
Developed by UNICEF as a “response to the high-burden of out-of-school girls prevalent in northern Nigeria,” GEP3, which is funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development, DFID, and scheduled to span from 2012 to December 2020, has attained most of its aims and objectives.
When UNICEF began implementing G4G in 2018, a National Personnel Audit, NPA, Report of Nigeria’s Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, said 536,122 children were out of school in Katsina State, out of which 267,132 were girls, while of the 91,0577 girls enrolled in primary school, 11,031 were dropping out before completing school.
A recent visit to the state however showed that the GEP3 programme has not only assisted in shaping policies and driving the state’s educational goals, but also triggered a major boost in girls’ enrolment, and led efforts towards retention and completion and transitioning of girls from lower to higher classes.
An official of the State’s Ministry of Education, who confided in us, said the 2019/2020 school census report, which is about to be released, contains a lot of positive changes to the school data of the state, especially as it affects girls’ enrolment, retention and transitioning, core areas of focus for GEP3.
One of the over 292 schools where UNICEF is carrying out interventions, Sada Primary School, Kankia, located about 68.1 kilometres from Katsina City, has evolved into a symbol of the unparalleled success of a determined response against low girls enrolment and out-of-school children.
Established in 1953, the school currently has a population of 1,420 pupils- 789 girls and 678 boys, most of whom are products of the state and its development partners’ enrolment campaigns.
Despite being one of the oldest schools in Kankia Local Government Area, Sada Primary School’s enrolment only grew in the past two years after the implementation of UNICEF’s, G4G programme.
Malam Yusuf Hassan, Headmaster of the school, said the surge in girls’ enrolment is attributed to the vital role played by UNICEF through its G4G programme and its local partners such as the School Based Management Committee, SBMC, Mothers Association, G4G mentors and Town Criers, as well as religious leaders.
Hassan noted that partners were deeply involved in sensitising members of the community on the need to send their children to school; sometimes the school also adopted the approach of dramatizing the effect of not sending girls to school in order to encourage parents to enrol their children.
Similar feats are reported by schools in all 9 local governments that are beneficiaries of UNICEF’s interventions, some of which are Pilot Science Primary School, Kankara, and Ingawa Pilot Primary School.
Others are Kaura Abdulkadir Memorial Primary School Rimi, Jankuki Primary School Rimi, Hassan Usman Primary school, Kankia, Dambo Tukur Model Primary School, Ingawa, and Nuhu Model Primary school, Kankara.
While credit goes to the state’s educational authorities for their sustained political will, as well as seamless collaboration with UNICEF and other development partners as well as local communities in the process, UNICEF provided technical and funding support to the successes being recorded.
At Pilot Science Primary School, Kankara Town, in Kankara L.G.A, the Head Teacher, Umar Mani, disclosed that the school with 818 student population, has 393 girls and 425 boys, while attributing the robust increase in enrolment of girls to the combined efforts of G4G initiative and other stakeholders.
Mani said before the programme began in 2018, the school’s enrolment for both boys and girls stood at 400, adding that G4G also helped retention and transition of girls from lower to higher classes; and provided vocational skills for girls such as knitting, and sewing, among others.
In Dambo Tukur Model Primary School, Ingawa, a 14-year-old orphan, Hauwa'u Tukur, is now living her dream of completing primary school, two years after dropping out school.
Hauwa'u was in primary five when her father died from an undisclosed illness. Soon after the death of her father, her ambition of completing primary school early enough was shattered as she was unable to buy uniforms and writing materials for herself, leading to her dropping out.
As the first daughter of a family of 10 children, her ordeal mirrored the plight of her nine siblings. But Hauwa'u’s hope was restored when the Mothers Association under G4G took steps to re-enrol her in school.
According to her, the school’s mothers association bought uniforms for her and brought her back to school, and she is now determined to transit to secondary school, and proceed to university to read medicine.
Hauwa'u also learned vocational skills such as earrings-making, and beads which have helped her to sustain herself.
Head Teacher of Nuhu Model Primary School, Kankara, Bashir Shitu Idris, who spoke to our correspondent said the school, which was established in 1948 has a total of 3,175 students, 1666 boys and 1509 girls, stating that the high number of girls’ enrolment was the result of G4G.
Shitu said the programme has reduced hawking during school hours in the local government, noting that before the introduction of the programme, the school's population was less than 2000.
UNICEF’s Desk Officer in Kankara LGA, Mrs. Jamila Ahmed, said there are about 33 schools where the G4G programme is being implemented in the local government.
Ahmed said each of the schools has as many as 25 or 20 students per group and each school has 3 groups and are taken care of a mentor each.
As the GEP3 programme winds down in December 2020, UNICEF’s Gender Desk Officer in Katsina State, Mrs Hauwa Kaikai, said the G4G initiative will be sustained by the state when it winds down in December.
Kaikai disclosed that UNICEF recently trained education managers, including local government education secretaries, commissioner of education, DPRS SUBEB, and social mobilisation officers at the local government to include the G4G leadership and life skills in school curriculum so that when G4G finally goes away, the schools would adopt the process and proceed with it.
“In Katsina, we have G4G in 9 GEP3 local governments where we have 292 schools with more than 10,000 girls, who have received series of training on leadership and life skills both at the cluster, state and national level. They have been participated in the international day of the girl child. Reading hubs have also been introduced for the G4G girls.
One of UNICEF’s interventions under GEP3, which has significantly improved the quality of teaching and learning, especially as it affects reading and numeracy skills is the Reading and Numeracy Activities, RANA, initiative.
According to UNICEF's focal person at Isa Kaita College of Education, Dutsima, Hajia Hauwa Mohammed, the programme which was implemented in six local governments, has transformed teachers’ approach to teaching.
Mohammed said the programme was designed to be learner-centred and uses activity-based plan to teach the pupils how to read and write in Hausa in line with the national policy on education which provides that lower basic education should be in the language of the immediate environment.
She said teachers from Primary 1-3 were selected from the Global Partnership for Education, GEP3, intervention local governments to train them on the implementation of the teaching methodology in the schools where UNICEF is intervening.
According to her, the programme has expanded to 9 local governments of the state and Educate a Child, EAC, was also intervening in 3 local governments so UNICEF has adopted 12 local governments and GPE has done about 18 local governments while UBEC is doing the rest, so practically the entire state is being covered by RANA.
On sustainability of GEP3 interventions, UNICEF’s Gender Desk Officer in Katsina State Ministry of Education, Hajia Binta Adulmumin, lauded UNICEF for the technical support provided to the state in conducting its ASC since 2018, stressing that the state has a sustainability plan to sustain the annual school census when GEP3 ends.
Adulmumin noted that the state had trained local government personnel and its Management Information System staff to generate data and send to the data bank of the Ministry of Education.
She stressed the importance of data in the development of the state’s sector plan, adding that the previous ASC furnished the state with the information that there are some communities or local governments that need more schools.
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