How school leavers boost ECD in Kano, Jigawa

A five-year project to empower teenage girls with skills beyond secondary school ended in Kano and Jigawa last week. Some of the girls now run schools, while others have gained skills to run small scale businesses, KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE reports.

Not making the minimum required number of credits in the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) can be devastating for any secondary school leaver, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, where funds and opportunities are few.

However, for 19 girls in Kano and Jigawa, a project by the development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC), a local non-profit organisation, has transformed them into ‘school’ owners.

The girls were drawn from secondary schools already benefiting from the Partnership to Strenghen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE) skills4girls4life project of the dRPC.

The project started in 2013 to help some 33 girls’ secondary schools transition to the new curriculum introduced by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) which required schools to teach 34 Trade Subjects to imbue students with entrepreneurial skills.

The PSIPSE project exposed the girls to skill acquisition programmes disseminated at after-school club sessions – as practical component of some of the trade subjects. The centre also focused on strengthening their knowledge of Mathematics and English Language.

During club sessions, the girls learnt how to make every-day consumables like liquid soap, air freshner, petroleum jelly, dress making, knitting. They also learnt about baking, fisheries and poultry.

Teachers in 33 PSIPSE schools underwent training to teach English, Mathematics, Civic Education and the Trade subjects better.  The results of the intervention were encouraging.

In 2017, 39.6 per cent of girls in PSIPSE schools made credits in five subjects, including English and Mathematics, compared to 15.2 per cent in other non-PSIPSE girls schools in Kano. In Jigawa, 61.5 percent of PSIPSE schools met the benchmark, while only 9.8 percent achieved five credits in non-PSIPSE schools included in the assessment.

Last year, 65.7 per cent of Kano PSIPSE school girls made their SSCE, compared to 13.7 girls in non-PSIPSE schools. In Jigawa, 44.5 per cent made their papers, compared to 36.3 per cent of those who did not.

While the results were commendable, there were still many girls in PSIPSE schools who did not achieve five O Level credits.

Some of them, who achieved only one or two credits in the SSCE, were trained to become Early Childhood Development (ECD) advocates so they could provide crucially-needed ECD education for out-of-school children in their communities.  The dRPC implemented the ECD project in partnership with Kano and Jigawa state governements, which deployed ECD experts as monitors and technical support advisers.

 

ECD centres

 

Last Monday, four of the girls who started the ECD centres were among delegates at the skills4girls4life project dissemination workshop held at the Muritala Muhammad Library, Kano, to share their success stories.

A consultant at dRPC, Aisha Bello, said the girls underwent three months of intensive training in classroom management, lesson note writing, school hygiene, and book keeping.

Aisha said the ECD project was successful given the high rate of enrolment of children who would not otherwise have been enrolled in ECD schools by their parents.

“Nineteen ECD centres were opened in Kano and Jigawa states.  The outcome was that they enrolled 658 children – 318 girls and 340 boys.The children learnt basic literacy and numberacy skills through play, creative activities and the child to child method,” she said.

One of the girls, Maryam Lawan, runs Alkhariat ECD Centre in Nassara Gundutse, Kayi Kura LGA, Kano State, where she takes care of 70 pupils aged 0-5 years at the cost of N100 per week.

“I have 70 children attending my school. They attend school by 8am and leave 12pm.  I am taking care of them with the help of my junior sister.  I teach them how to read, how to wash their hands.  I teach them songs, then I teach them some stories,” she said.

Maryam who hopes to train as a nurse, said she would continue the school even after gaining admission into nursing school.

“I want to study nursing.  I will not close the school; I like the children so much. My younger sister will continue looking after the school,” she said.

Another ECD Centre owner, Khadija Garba Dodo, runs Tarbiyya Kindergarten in M/Madori Jigawa State.

She has 150 children in her school where she charges N200 monthly. Already, Khadija said she is attending part-time school get her NCE.

“I joined the programme because I am very interested in children. I have about 150 children. They pay N200 every month.  Not all of them pay but I still allow them stay in school.

“I would like to continue my education.  I go to part-time school, Friday , Saturday, Sunday,” she said.

When asked about quality control in schools being run by secondary school leavers who have not undergone the conventional teacher training prescribed for Nigeria, Hajiya Fatimah Ibrahim, ECD Officer, Kano State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), said the girls were closely supervised and recalled for more training after regular visits.

She said: “After the training, they were given materials to start with – mats, registers, chalkboards and they were told how to start.  We told them how they should start – guided them – this is how you  will fill  your register ,this is how you will implement the curriculum.

“Then after four weeks we visited them in their site to see how they were doing.  We mentored them and monitored them.

Hajiya Ibrahim said the affordability of the schools made the communities embrace them.  She said the most successful of the girls, whose school had a population of over 100, charges N20 per day.

She said: “We were discussing their experiences at a second training when she explained that she has more than 100 children.  So we asked how she started.  She said she collects N20 per day.  If you have N20 you give your child then you come for that day; If you do not have N20, you will not come.  She used the money to pay for another assistant teacher,” she said.

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