By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
It was on March 19, 2020 when the news of schools closure in Nigeria broke, the order, was to take effect from 26th of same month.
The closure according to the Federal Government was part of measures to control the spread of the novel CoronaVirus.
Six months later, the break is about to end and children are about to return to school, but the concern in the heart of many is: how safe are the schools for reopening and what are parents themselves doing to ensure the safety of their children for schools resumption?
“We are set for our children to return to school as soon as schools are reopened. We are eager because the break has lasted for too long. We are not waiting for government, we have put measures in place to ensure their safety in school.” Says, Aisha Shehu Jafaru, Coordinator, Mothers Association, Rinji Special Primary School, Gwale Local Government Area of Kano State.
Mothers Associations are sub-committee of the Schools Based Management Committee (SBMC). SBMCs, are established in Nigeria by state governments in order to bridge the gap between government schools and communities. They are meant to create a sense of community ownership in the development of schools and education centres, and improve learning outcomes.
It is a form of community involvement in school governance, based on regulation with elected but voluntary membership. Their ultimate aim in schools is to improve the standard of teaching and students’ learning outcomes through the concerted efforts of the key stakeholders, the leadership and commitment of frontline educators and the support of the Government.
Speaking further, Aisha, said the association has so far purchased 100 buckets, Soaps, 100 Hands Sanitizers, 500 Face Masks, First Aid Drugs and writing materials with the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand naira (#150,000).
She said the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), will not only be distributed to their school alone as they have identified four other schools who will also benefit from the gesture.
“So far we have spent #150,000 to purchase some of the materials children in our schools will need for safe resumption as soon as schools are reopened. We were able to raise #100,000 from our contributions and our men; the SBMC, gave us #50,000 and we are still planning to do more.
“As part of our preparations for schools reopening also, we have been doing a house to house campaign to enlighten the women on how to prepare their children for resumption.
“Another aspect of our preparations was that during the lockdown we organized lessons for the children within the community, the reason was to ensure that they don’t lose focus and we want them to remain in track with what they have learnt.
“The lessons normally runs from Mondays to Thursdays from 9am to 12noon, with some of us who are teachers volunteering to teach while one of our member provided the venue for the lesson. We Even provided them with face masks and hand Sanitizers and ensured they adhered strictly to the Covid-19 guideline on physical distancing.
“We equally ensured that some children who are not even in school joined in the lesson to start preparing them for school because as soon as schools are reopened, we will return them to school, our objective is to make sure no child is seen at home during school hours.
“Beyond that, we have also planned to commence a skills acquisition training for some of the children when schools finally reopens. 10 of them have already been selected for training on tailoring and we have discussed it with the SBMC and they promised to buy us sewing machines.” The Mothers Association Coordinator explained.
On his part, the SBMC Chairman, Isa Harris Gidadu, said as a committee, what they have done was to allow the mothers association to take the lead and come up with good ideas and they give them their support.
He however, raised concern over the population of students in the school compared to the numbers of classrooms available in the school, saying “we have 954 pupils in this school with just 9 classrooms and the sizes of the classrooms are small.
“We want government to please help us in expanding the school by erecting blocks of storey buildings since they are no much space in the school compound.”
Speaking on Kano State Basic Education Board (Kano-SUBEB) preparedness for schools reopening, Hajiya Amina Umar, Director, Social Mobilization of the board, who spoke on behalf of the Executive Chairman, Dr. Danlami Hayyo, said though the state is yet to announce the actual date for schools reopening, but SUBEB has since commenced preparations by putting up some strategies.
According to her, “SUBEB training department has concluded all arrangement for training of over 4,000 teachers phase 1, purchased sanitary facilities such as buckets and sanitizer for schools (30 schools per Local government (total of 1,320) for a start. The items have arrived to be distributed.
“Committee both at State and SUBEB level are working out modalities and options to be vetted by the Governor for further actions. Options were proffered 1,2 and 3 on strategies. Kano case is peculiar due to its large number of population and enrolment. We have situation of over 100 pupils in one class and the committee is working it out to ensure compliance with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid 19 protocols.
“Teachers to partially report to school twice a week to begin preparation for school Reopening, meeting with SBMCs on how they can support schools. SUBEB had commenced 2nd phase e-learning and the time table shared with all Stakeholders.”
She added that, UNICEF had already given State level SBMCs orientation and shared the National Guidelines on schools reopening and that the SBMCs are also to step down same to their LGEAs, a task she noted that some LGEAs have already started.
UNICEF since May 2012, commenced the implementation of an 8 years UK Department for International Development (DFID), now called Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) funded project called Girls Education Project 3 (GEP3) in five (5) plus one northern States, namely; Bauchi, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara States and now Kano.
A project that aims at contributing to improved social and economic opportunity for girls in northern Nigeria, with major focus to get school-age girls to schools without neglecting boys enrolment, according to UNICEF Education Specialist in Kano, Muntaka Mukhtar.