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PART III PROSPECTS
11. Presentation of New Policies:
Nigeria has recognized that her educational system has deteriorated due to a number of reasons, and has not made as much progress as she would have liked to make in attaining her EFA goals. In order to address this undesirable situation, she has embarked on a reform of the entire system in order to provide not only access, but also to improve the quality and efficiency of education in the country.
As a beginning, the new democratic government of Nigeria has made education one of its priorities by relaunching in September, 1999 a Universal Basic Education Scheme (UBE) which aims at achieving the following specific objectives:
Components of the Scheme
There are three components of the UBE Scheme namely:
In seeking to achieve these objectives, vigorous efforts will be made to counter the factors which are known to have hindered the achievement of the goals of the UPE (Universal Primary Education) programme tried two decades ago. More appropriate approaches will be developed for:
The present administration regards education as the most efficient way through which a society can face the challenges of tomorrow and has therefore geared up towards achieving universal access to basic education through effective promotion of:
In attaining the objective, the following measures are being taken:
(i) sensitizing communities on the need to enrol children in schools, especially girls.
Equally, the administration has set a machinery for effective actualization in motion by constituting two committees with a view to ensuring development through participation and community - based planning. These are:
The following approaches and operational strategies will be adopted for the successful implementation of the UBE Scheme:
At the implementation level, the communities will be empowered to enable them organize self-help projects that will improve the quality and standard of education.
In the area of reduction of illiteracy, innovative approached will be adopted. The strategy to be adopted in order to extend access to education to every group will include:
Specific implementation strategies include strategies:
(i) Provision of mobile libraries nationwide
(i) Training of National and State Personnel on Managing Business and Engineering skills Training Centres (BEST)
12.2 BEST PRACTICES IN BASIC EDUCATION
A number of projects and purchases and have been proven to be effective in attaining universal basic education. Some of such practices/projects are highlighted below. Experiences gained in their implementation will be drawn upon where applicable in the implementation of the new UBE scheme.
12.2.1CAP-MM- WHEN COMMUNITIES ARE IN CHARGE
The success recorded in the 1997 programme implementation was attributable to the general acceptance of the "Catchment-Area based planning, Management and Monitoring" (CAP-MM) strategy embarked upon in intervention schools since 1994.This strategy which promotes community partnership in education, emphasizes micro-planning, management and monitoring to build the capacities The success recorded of local communities for sustainable educational development. It is a strategy for bringing and keeping all eligible children in a basic education programme-a Bamako initiative approach in basic education.
In the Nkim Osokom (Cross River State) community where this strategy is adopted, a significant progress has been made in expanding access to basic education for children who were in school but dropped out due to lack of separate toilet facilities for girls and for school-age children who preferred to ignore schooling due to lack of value for education. In another community in Gwer-West Local Government Area (LGA) Benue State, the first impression of a first-time visitor was that the school had a problem of inadequate supply of teaching materials, low teacher motivation and moral, skewed gender enrolment and completion rates, and limited participation of parents/communities in school management. These problems disappeared as soon as this community partnership strategy was promoted and accepted.
Each community was encouraged to form a small committee which sometimes partially overlapped or linked with a similar body existing for health, nutrition and hygiene to promote synergy among key social services and enhance their total effectiveness. This committee was entrusted with the responsibility for bringing all school entry-age children in schools, track all enrolled children to ensure their continuation in programme, ensure availability of essential inputs by getting partners to honour their commitments, ensure that the quality of learning/teaching and the school environment are improved and finally, that the community is mobilized, educated and informed.
Acknowledging the merits of the CAP-MM strategy, the National Primary Education Commission [NPEC] mandated all State Primary Education Boards [SPEBS] to select at least two pilot schools in their States to implement the strategy. From available reports the CAP-MM strategy has spurred many State Primary Education Boards [SPEBs] to initiate programmes on community participation and involvement in planning, managing and monitoring of education programmes. This includes the successful Benue State Partnership in Primary Education project, and the Neighbourhood Education Committees [NECs] at the Local Government level in Kano State. To improve access and quality of education particularly for the girls in the north, UNICEF has initiated grassroot Action plans with active participation of communities, State and Local Government level. Unicef is also assisting the government to incorporate girl-child craft facilities into 72 pilot CAP-MM primary schools to make education functional and relevant in the context of present economic reality.
12.2.2 SORO PROVIDES LEADERSHIP IN NFE FOR GIRLS:
Education for all assumes that all children can learn despite their circumstances. The challenge has been to find sustainable strategies and innovations that can enable each child to learn what is relevant and important. the formal school system has not fully succeeded at meeting the basic learning needs of all primary school aged children in the country.
Non-enrolment and poor school attendance have been attributed to economic, social and cultural factors such as poverty, distance from schools, poor quality of education, limited job opportunities or prospects for further education, language differences between school and the home and the declining value for education.
The Situation and Policy Analysis conducted in 1992 identified the need to start two pilot projects, the "Pilot Primary School Project" and the "Girl-Child education Project". A Pilot project for Girl-Child Education was accordingly introduced in 1993. The Local government of Ganjuwa identified Soro Village, as the project site. Advocacy and "Social Mobilization were dine with policy makers (LGA Chairmen])Community Leaders (District and Village Heads)and community members to support the project. Existing Non-formal curricula were adapted and learning materials selected for use in the project from existing local sources. Local Government Area project personnel were trained in management, monitoring and evaluation. The girls who enrolled in large numbers, received instructions in literacy, numeracy and life skills for three hours daily, for five days a week.
The Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) in conjunction with the school committee members regularly visited the school to check attendance and take necessary measures to curb late arrivals or early withdrawal from school. Monthly monitoring visits were undertaken by the State and LGA coordinators to ensure progress of activities identify areas which needed improvement.
The Community agreed on a flexible timing for the lessons and the Curriculum which were designed by combining relevant elements of existing primary, non-formal and religious education. Classes were initially conducted in a public building [the verandah of (a Maternity Clinic), but later on shifted to a renovated community building also used for ECCD activities. UNICEF has provided teaching-learning materials like exercise books, text books. blackboards, pencils, mats, medicines, sewing machines, benches, skills training items, and other essential school supplies. The LGA has been responsible for instructor's allowance, additional teaching-learning materials, supervision and inspection. The community ensures security, attendance and the facility/building. To date 32 girls have graduated from the Soro Non-Formal Education (NFE) centre.
12.2.2 PROMISING INITIATIVES:
The communities, given proper partnership opportunities and a trust in the quality of services, are ready to "own' and support the education and other social sector programmes. Another lesson is that education when twinned with the health and nutritional interventions is better received. Communities have initiated actions with the school as a convergence point. UNICEF and other partners need to support this trend to ensure sustainability of grassroot development efforts. Inter-sectoral linkage with WES, has provided low-cost 'Sanplat' latrines at a cost of $1 per pupil and water points at $5 per pupil in 416 schools. Linkage with Health has led to the development of Teacher's Guide on Reproductive Health Education for Upper primary and Secondary schools in collaboration with National AIDS/STD Control Programme (NASCP), Federal Ministry of Education (FME), Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) and NPEC. A collaborative Comprehensive Education Analysis (CEA) with the Federal Ministry of Education and its parastatals, the World Bank, UNESCO, UNDP and the British Council is about to be commissioned. The Early Child Care (ECC) NGO Network is gaining ground. The way forward clearly rests on genuine partnership with the States, LGAs and communities in programme planning and implementation.
12.2.4 GIRL CHILD MODEL CENTRES
Ten year old Hafsatu Abdu comes from a home of 20 children. Hafsatu's father does not believe in female education and therefore will not allow any of his daughters to attend format primary school. But Hafsatu is fortunate to be among the luck children to acquire basic literacy at Gidan Salanke, Qur'anic School in Wammako local Government in Sokoto State. Here, she and 30 other girls form part of a Non-formal Education programme designed to promote literacy among school age children that are out of school or engaged in hawking and other non schooling activities.
In three months of attending the Girl Child basic literacy class, Hafsatu has learnt to read and write very well. Unlike thousands of other girls who are sent in the streets to hawk groundnuts, kola nuts, bread and just about anything that could fetch money by their parent. Hafsatu spends more time acquiring a life-long literacy based education. Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights from 8.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. she is joined by other girls shout in chorus Aa ... Bb....Bi ... Bu .... as they learn the alphabets in Hausa at Gidan Salanke Girl-Child literacy class, one of the 30 Girl-Girl.
Centres Recently Opened in 23 Local Government in the State
In Sokoto State resistance to Western education and parents attitude to female education continue to pose obstacles to attaining the educational goals of literacy for all by the Year 2000. Many parents prefer to educate their boys rather than the girls who, apart from the Qur'anic education which they receive are only allowed to go street hawking. As girls, they are often kept out of school only to be married at the age of 12. At relatively young age they are already saddled with the responsibilities and burden of life. They may spend the rest of their lives doing household chores and rearing children without the benefits of formal education.
The Non-Formal Education Girl-Child Model centres are one of the multi-pronged Approaches adopted by the Sokoto state government with assistance from UNICEF to eradicate literacy among youths and out of school dropout. With 60 per cent of its 75 per cent illiterate being female, Sokoto state is far from attaining its literacy target.
A deliberate policy which focuses on female education through intensive mobilization and sensitization of the public towards active participation therefore has been necessary. Further mobilization efforts are carried out using the publicity network of the statewide Rima Radio. Regular visits are also paid to the Villages Heads in order to gain their support and emphasize to them on the need to encourage their community to acquire basic education. They are also alerted on the evils of illiteracy. Sokoto States has long realized that training is an important aspect of the success of the Girls Child Development programme. Since the beginning of this year, the Sokoto State Agency for Mass Education has with UNICEF Zone C assistance, organized series of training workshops and sensitization programmes for religious and traditional leaders.
Early in April this year, it organized a workshop in Sokoto for some selected 20 female instructors on hygiene and nutrition education in Sokoto. The participants were exposed to simple methods of maintaining personal cleanliness environmental hygiene and related sanitary education. So successful was this workshop that instructors were now ensuring that the pupils carry out personal hygiene in addition to simple ways of obtaining a balanced diet.
As a further boost to it's "War On Illiteracy", the Agency will with UNICEF assistance soon embark on the training of 98 female instructors who will be charged with opening of new Girl Child Centres in the state, thus, further giving more access to basic education to thousands of out-of-school girls.
According to Malam Maude the koranic teacher at Gidan Salanke, before the introduction of the literacy class at Gidan Salanke, the District Head, Salanke was approached to give his approval to a programme that will involve the teaching of basic literacy along with Qur'anic education. However, the Salanke would not give his approval without due consultation with his people especially, the Qur'anic Malams who are an influential group whose opinions weigh heavily in the success of the programme.
Fortunately, the Malams were not averse to the idea and in fact welcomed it so long as it did not interfere with the teaching of the Qur'anic classes. Malam Abubakar a proud father with three daughter in the literacy class is one of those whose opinion was sought before the Gidan Salanke Girl Child Centre was opened. He says that because of the potential benefits which he sees in the basic education programme he is considering enrolling one of his daughters in the formal primary school.
12.2.5 The Rights of the Child:
In 1994, the Sokoto State Government under an agreement with UNICEF drew up an elaborate programme that emphasizes education for women and the girl-child development. The Convention on the Rights of the Child had already proved to be an effective framework for achieving this objective.
The Girl Child programme affords young out-of-school girls of between the ages of 5 to 18 years the opportunity to acquire Basic Literacy, Post literacy and Extra Mural classes, but literacy is not the be-all and end all. The Girl Child has a chance to acquire vocational skills too, in addition to health education and environmental education.
In 1996, when the Girl Child programme started as a pilot scheme in six model centres located at Wammakko, Bodings, Illela, Wurno and Kware Local Government Areas it had an enrolment figure of 585 girls But today, under the 1997 expansion of the NFE model centres a phenomenal increase has been recorded that saw the largest enrolment of out of school children with a total 2,902 children comprising of 1819 boys and 1089 girls. Notwithstanding the increase in enrolment, UNICEF has continued to provide participants at the Child-Girl Centres with exercise books, pencils, chalk and vocational training materials such as sewing machines, scissors, needle and thread and basket weaving materials.
12.2.6 Girl Child Centre: putting an end to Street Hawking:
At Gidan Haki in Sokoto North Local Government, initially a Women Development Centre but now expanded to include a Girl Child Centre, these are three classes, each one of them with about 40 girls crammed together on floor mats. Some of the girls are nursing mothers who try to catch up on their learning while attempting to suckle their babies at the same time. Only three girls have dropped out since the programme started in February 1997. This low drop out rate has been sustained as a result of pressure from peer group.
"We have had girls who have come here on their own" says Aishatu Abdullahi, Coordinator of the Gidan Haki Girl Child Centre. These are girls who abandon street hawking in responses to pressure from their own group asking them to learn how to sew and make dresses, weave baskets and practice home economics," she said. Besides, a few of them see it as a chance to catch up one of life's missed opportunities. "we are thinking of opening up new classes under thew trees as we don't have enough space to accommodate new entrants to the programme" says Aishatu.
Most parents and girls are attracted to the centres because of the informal nature of the programme which is devoid of the usually rigidity of formal classroom settings. Indeed the flexibility of the programme allows for a girl to acquire reading and wiring skills within six months of enrolment. What is more, the life skills incorporated into the programme ensures that they are prepared to lead a productive adult life.
51 year old Malam Namadina of Wurno, a dry, hilly town Northeast of Sokoto in Anka Local Government says that since the introduction of the basic literacy and vocational programme at his Qur'anic school, many parents have been withdrawing their children from other schools in order to take advantage of the literacy and vocational training programme now offered by his centre. This has made other Qur'anic Malams "green with envy" says Namadina who is not only happy with the literacy arrangement but is also pleased to receive a stipend of N400 a month as allowance from the state government. until now he had hardly received any income at all. The additional incentive received is further boosting the morale of the Mallams and is creating a spirit of competition to excel in the literacy classes.
To underscore the seriousness Sokoto State attaches to its Literacy programme, it has been able to strike an agreement with the Local Governments to commit 5 per cent of their annual budget to the Non Formal Education programme in their government in addition to community levies and taxes . Traditional rulers in 39 districts have in an unprecedented gesture agreed to each help in reducing gender disparity by opening women education classes in their domain. Undoubtedly, Sokoto state will need all the commitment and assistance it can muster to move ahead on the educational front.
12.2.7 Qur'anic Integrated Literacy in Sokoto State
How Sokoto state is winning the war on illiteracy through integrated Qur'anic schools. Despite a 75 per cent alarming rate of illiteracy among youth and out of school children in a state of 4.4 million people, Sokoto state is fast on its way to achieving a spectacular 25 per cent reduction in its illiteracy rate by the Year 2000. An evaluation of the 1996 programme performance of the Basic literacy classes showed that the end of the year enrolment figures had increased from an enrolment of 914 to 115,525 pupils. Out of this figure, 73,291 pupils had passed the exams. Its success rate fewer females that it recorded no more than 0.2 per cent drop out rate. Its also had yet fewer female drop-outs when compared to the male.
These achievements are dramatic especially when viewed against the fact that Sokoto State is one of the educationally backward states in Nigeria and attempts to increase access to Basic education started as a pilot scheme in Sokoto, Tangaza and Bakura Local government Areas only in 1996.
Thanks to a UNICEF assisted Non Formal Education Programme which consist of integrating basic education elements into the Qur'anic schools, score of out of school children now have a chance to acquire basic education and one of the vocational skills incorporated into the programme. Since Islam took firm roots in Sokoto Caliphate following the Jihad of the 18th Century Islamic reformer, Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio, nearly all children in Sokoto State attend Qur'anic schools. But Sokoto State has discovered that school age children that are out of school are to be found in the Qur'anic schools or engaged in hawking and other non schooling activities. This obvious disadvantage was however turned into an advantage in its fight against illiteracy. With some form of structure in existence for the teaching Qur'anic education which emphasizes Arabic literacy and the learning of the Koran, it was not difficult to integrate Basic literacy into Qur'anic school systems.
Within the current Federal Government of Nigeria/UNICEF five year (997-2000) Basic Education Agreement, problems of low access to pre-primary and primary education deteriorating quality of basic education delivery services, economic, geographic and gender based inequalities will receive assistance.
In 1994, the Agency For Mass Education through its Area Coordinators and Scheme Organizers started contract and discussion with Qur'anic Malams and adult learners on the possibility of providing basic literacy for the Qur'anic school children. This was to yield some results a year later when some adult learners started bringing their children along to the basic literacy classes and few Malams enrolled with the Literacy programme within their locality.
Under an informal arrangement a community is allowed to choose its own Qur'anic school for the integration of basic literacy. The school also recruits its own teachers who will teach literacy and numeracy classes. The whole essence of allowing the community to participate in its choice of schools and teachers is to give the parents the confidence to entrust their children foe the literacy programme. "Parents will allow their children attend the basic literacy class only if they knew the Qur'anic Malam", says Muhammed Bello, Mobilization Officer, Agency for Mass Education Sokoto State. This innovative approach in response to a local need required some form of mobilization. In Sokoto, Tangaza, and Bakura Local Governments, traditional rulers and Muslim clerics, hold the key to successful mobilization. "Once you get hold of the traditional leaders and the Malams you have crossed one big hurdle" says Yahaya Ahmed, Deputy Director at the Agency for Mass Education.
The Sultan of Sokoto, a revered paramount ruler in the State and a direct descendant of the legendary Sheikh Dan Fodio made a series of appeal to parents and Malams to allow their children to attend the literacy classes. Similar appeals came from a prominent Muslim Cleric, Sheikh Isa Talata Mafara and teachers. Towards the end of April this year, another workshop was organized to sensitize and promote awareness among 70 participants mostly traditional rulers, Village Heads and Districts Head, State run Rima Radio conveys effective messages through jingles to both urban and rural areas in the state, while in every community at district and village levels, posters adorn the walls and trees sending out messages in the most convivial presentation
With the solemn declaration and willingness of the Malams and traditional rulers to support the basic literacy scheme, many more literacy classes were opened at the district levels. This in itself contributed to reducing the menace of street begging.
"Some Qur'anic Malams used to preach that any parent who sent his or her child to western formal school is a kaffir (an Arabic world used to describe an infidel). But all that has given way now that there is some form of awareness." Says the Ardo of Dingyadi in Bodinga Local Government.
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