How dev’t partners are helping to rebuild education in Zamfara state

The education sector which had suffered from serious setbacks in Zamfara state due to the activities of bandits is receiving attention from international partners and relevant agencies as a way of rebuilding the sector again. MOHAMMED SANUSI reports.

Considering the importance of girls education in the country, but largely hampered by the activities of bandits especially in the North-west part of the country, that development has attracted some development partners into intervening to help respective state governments attain the goal of educating their citizens particularly Zamfara state government.

The activities of these bandits led to what is largely known as unsafe school environment in the state, thereby prompting international donor agency like United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) to intervene towards the rebuilding and development of education in the state.

The background

As a result of the insecurity that affected the socio-economic life of the entire citizens of Zamfara state for the past one decade, based on the statistics available to the state government, indication has it that over 3,000 people have been killed during attacks by bandits between 2011 and 2019, while over 1,000 were kidnapped within the same period. This is in addition to the 1,190 people kidnapped by the bandits within the same period. The records also show that N970 million was paid as ransom, while 14,378 animals were rustled within the period. In the same vein, over 100,000 people were displaced from their ancestral homes.

Aftermath on schools

From 2019 to date, record available to Blueprint indicates that three government secondary schools were attacked by the bandits in three local government areas of the state which include Talata Mafara local government, Bakura and Maradun local government areas, respectively.
This trend has, no doubt, caused a lot of setback in education sector in the state, a development that led many parents to withdraw their children from boarding schools because of the unsafe environment challenges across the length and breath of Zamfara.

For instance, on February 14 2019, a group of suspected bandits stormed the Government Girls Secondary School Jangebe and kidnaped over 300 female students while in August 2021, the recalcitrant bandits equally stormed the College of Agriculture and Animals Health located in Bakura at the headquarters of Bakura local government area of the state at midnight and kidnapped 15 students, four staff of the college and killed three persons including a police inspector and two watchmen of the school.

Meanwhile, in September 2021, no fewer than 75 students were also kidnapped in a fresh attack by bandits on Government Day Secondary School Kaya in Maradun local government area. In view of that, the state government imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on 13 local government areas in the state and as well ordered the closure of all schools across the state in response to the abduction of the 75 students of the college.

However, after four months of closure of all schools by the state government as a result of abductions, the state government through the state ministry of education announced the reopening of some schools which include, public and private schools that were categorised as ‘green’ and ‘yellow’ by the ministry while schools that were in the ‘red’ category remain closed to date out of the 200 secondary schools in Zamfara. The state government classified 85 as red, 75 as green and 40 as yellow.

Other effects on schools

Similarly, Blueprint investigation shows that another factors affecting school enrolment in the state include compromise, lack of awareness among parents on the importance of educating their children particularly girls, culture, religion, poverty as well as early marriage among the teenage girls, a situation that causes high rate of drop-out among children in schools.

These factors have also contributed vigorously towards hampering and hindering the opportunity for children who are mainly girls from getting basic education across all the 14 local government areas which include Anka, Bakura, Bungudu, Birnin Magaji, Bukkuyum, Maru, Maradun, Gummi, Kaura Namoda, Tsafe, Talata Mafara, Shinkafi, Gusau and Zurmi.

From Matawalle’s perspective

Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle during his inaugural speech on May 29 2019, declared a state of emergency in the educational sector of which his administration made it compulsory for each and every child to get at least basic education from primary to secondary levels in compliance with the federal government scheme of Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA). This is in consideration of how he found the sector to be in a serious challenge due to the insecurity situation of the state caused by the activities of armed bandits.

UNICEF intervention

Despite all the insecurity situation in Zamfara, the significance of the intervention made by United Nations Childrens Education Fund (UNICEF) has tremendously played a vital role between 2012 to date towards assisting the state on teaching and learning processes for the enhancement of basic education system. This has been to the extent of ensuring that every child be given equal opportunity to get basic education regardless of background. The development partners also helped the state government to ensure that all out-of-school children were re-enrolled in schools, particularly at the grass root level.

Report has it that statistics available to UNICEF in 2018 indicated that a total 240,560 out-of-school children are in three major affected local government areas of Zamfara state. The affected local government areas are Bukkuyum, Maradun and Zurmi. The statistics shows further that Bukkuyum local government has a total number of 93,849 out-of-school children with 41,134 males while 52,715 were females, Maradun has a total of 63,943 with 28,963 males and 34,980 females while Zurmi local government has a total of 82,768 children with 38,286 males and 82,768 females. This no doubt poses a serious alarm threatening the education sector in the state.
On August 2 this year, UNICEF in collaboration with Sokoto State Universal Basic Education Board organised a three-day media dialogue in collaboration with UNICEF for Sokoto and Zamfara states journalists and other invited journalists from the Federal Capital Territory Abuja which was held at Sokoto Guest In.
The media parley is part of activities of the Girls Education Project 3 (GEP3) funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK and implemented by UNICEF in collaboration with Nigerian government.

It is believed that the outcomes of the meeting would be part of the ongoing collaboration to rebuild schools in the country especially Zamfara.

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