UNICEF, UKAID changing female education narrative in the North

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), without mincing words and going by its slogan of ‘UNICEF for every child, is not leaving any stone unturned in girl-child education through the G4G programme in the country.
MARTIN PAUL writes that beyond the conventional training, the programme is an eye opener for the girl-child to stand up in the society.

How it started In the very recent time, UNICEF in collaboration with UKAID has intensified education for female children in many parts of northern Nigeria ascribed as educationally disadvantaged.
In the last count, UNICEF was in Kano state for the Early Child Care Education and Development and Education (ECCDE), where the issues like admission, retention, transition and funding were brought to the fore.
Courtesy the federal government Home Grown School Feeding Programme, pupils enrolment into schools rose to a considerable number.
Thereafter, the Fund turned its arsenal to Sokoto, Niger and Bauchi states and took the bull by the horn by introducing the Cash Transfer Programme (CTP) and Educate A Child (EAC) programmes under the Girls’ Education Programme (GEP111).
There is no disputing the fact that these programmes have been very successful with the three state governments cooperating and this has resulted to increase in enrolment, retention of, particularly the female child in schools.
For instance, the CTP “reached the intended target beneficiaries to a very large extent in Niger and Sokoto states.
The number of actual beneficiaries of GEP 111-CTP reached the peak of 12,410 in Niger and 11, 34 in Sokoto during tranche 3 payment”, significantly showing that the impact assessment was positive and parents were sending their female children to schools as against before.
This progress led to the recent enactment of the Girl for Girl (G4G) programme in Zamfara, Bauchi and Katsina states.
Suffice to say that this project has changed the face of basic education in these states as more girls are enrolled and retained in schools.
Statistical report showed that over 15,000 girls from these states are currently participating in 813 G4G groups across 18 local government areas in 300 pilot schools.
A beneficiary’s view A visit to Tudun Wada Primary School, Talata Mafara, Zamfara state by the UNICEF team, complemented the statistics and a 13-year-old Fatimah Abbah, who attended school for the first time in her life, exhibited and uncommon of male dominance in schools.
Fatimah position was emboldened by UNICEF’s G4G project, which gives consideration to girls’ education through the Cash Transfer Programme (CTP).
While interacting with journalists, Fatimah, a relatively shy girl said: “I have learnt many things through G4G; I now know how to relate with people very well without fear, and I can now wash my hands clean before eating and after using toilet.
Whereas a larger number of parents in the north would prefer their male child go to school, Fatima reasons indifferently, saying: “My advice to parents is that they should send their female children to school, just as they do to their male ones”.
Other features of G4G Besides attending the conventional schools, where teachers are teaching Little Suwaiba progressing through G4G The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), without mincing words and going by its slogan of ‘UNICEF for every child, is not leaving any stone unturned in girl-child education through the G4G programme in the country.
MARTIN PAUL writes that beyond the conventional training, the programme is an eye opener for the girl-child to stand up in the society.
normal subjects, the G4G project is also enabling female children to learn trades that would impact on their future careers, understand the basic principles of heigene, stand up to be counted as girls and they are guided by trained community based mentors known as Mothers’ Association.
Complementing this assertion, a physically challenged girl, Suwaiba Yusuf of Barau Primary School in Faskari local government area of Katsina state said: she is one of such beneficiaries of the G4G programme in the state.
Perhaps her parents never knew the potential of Suwaiba, when the left her all alone at home without education or hand work or hawk like her siblings to generate income in support of the family, but the G4G has made a turnaround in her life as she now make beads, slippers and liquid soap, sell them and raise revenue.
The turnaround in Suwaiba’s life is a manifestation of the Leadership and Life Skills Training organised by a G4G group and during one of the Sallah celebrations, she made about N6,200 from the sale of items she made.
Why G4G UNICEF’s Communication Specialist, Geoffrey Njoku, told the media round table that the Fund beams her torchlight on girl to positively increase effect of education on the female child.
“This project focuses on education of the girl and not only that, it also entails educating the mothers because when you educate a mother, the likelihood of her own children going to school is much higher than an uneducated parent.
In essence it is more important that the girl is educated.
“The Cash Transfer Programme is one strategy; the G4G is another strategy, so we are pulling everything together to bring girls to school.” “Girls are very important part of our society and indeed a high percentage of success in developmental process in any society could be associated to them.
In addition, UNICEF Education Specialist, Azuka Menkiti, said the G4G programme is part of the drive to ensure one million girls were admitted into school, have retention and completion to become useful to themselves, parents and the society in general.
“The G4G target is to increase demand and retention for girls in school.
The major concern is for girls in school to appreciate the value of education,” she said.
Similarly, Mr. Tayo Fatinikun, Executive Director of Life Helpers Initiative, said the scheme is fast changing the narrative of girls’ education in the northern Nigeria.
According to him, the interest the project has already stimulated in the 100 selected schools where it is in operation in Zamfara state shows that many girls now see education as the only key to a brighter future.
Without contestation, the G4G programme is going beyond learning to imparting the right attitude and behavior in girls, giving them ability to stand up and be counted, capability of facing challenges and resisting molestations from their male counterparts, either in school or at other public domains.
Successes of G4G groups Fahimta Women and Youth Development Initiative (FAWOYDI) Bauchi state, is certainly not doing badly in the drive to educate the female child and making them identify their potential FAWOYDI’s thematic areas include reproductive health, education, sustainable agriculture, gender &and women’s rights.
The organisation is implementing G4G project in 100 primary schools and IQS of six GEP3 LGAs of Alkaleri, Ganjuwa, Ningi, Shira, Toro and Zaki, all in Bauchi state.
So far, there are 300 G4G groups in these local government areas, where 5,284 girls are participating in skilled programmes.
A total of 1,814 girls from 49 G4G schools in Alkaleri, Ganjuwa and Shira LGAs are now equipped with leadership, life skills knowledge and skills for personal use and growth, while 1,249 girls from 49 schools reached through role modelling and how to become useful to themselves and the society through interactive session with HiLWA.
No fewer than 100 members of Mothers’ Associations (MAs) from 50 pilot schools of Alkaleri, Ganjuwa and Shira have acquired skills on the production, use and maintenance of reusable pad, chinchin and pomade making.
The role of MAs showed that 249 pupils (147 girls and 102 boys) were enrolled/re-enrolled in Gandu, Danore, Zaranda, Ribina, Nabordo primary schools of Toro LGA, while 306 (200 female and 106 male) were enrolled as a result of MA enrollment campaign in Baki primary school, in Ningi LGA.
As a result of G4G training, there is increase in school attendance particularly for girls, reduction in hawking rate especially during school hours, improved personal hygiene of the girls.
MAs of Guma and Monna primary school of Alkaleri LGA engaged in pomade and chinchin production and sales to support education a result of the MA income generating training.
Advocacy visit conducted to the son of Emir of Ningi by Mother Association of Baki Primary School and he donated 10 set of uniforms to be distributed to the less privilege just as Gandu MAs as a result of their resources mobilisation supported 5 orphan pupils with writing materials.
MAs of central primary school Katagum, Zaki LGA supported 10 pupils (6 girls and 4 boys ) with uniform, while MAs of Yana Model Primary school in Shira LGA donated 160 Branded Exercise books to the less privilege and supported the school with the sum of 10,000 naira during 2018 Children day celebration.
In the same manner, MAs of Central Primary School Alkaleri influence the return to school female orphan (Balki Ibrahim) that drop out of school earlier.
Provided her with Uniform, exercise books and writing materials and promise to support her education.
At Gameru primary school Ganjuwa LGA the mothers Association contributed the sum of 9500 that was used in renovating the school toilets and a leaking roof in one of their classrooms.
At Miya Central Primary School in Ganjuwa LGA the Mother Association identify an orphan who drop out of school due the death of her parents and challenges.

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