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Despite odds, Zamfara takes education to hard-to-reach nomadic settlements

We are sometimes confronted by gun-wielding men — Kautal Hore scribe

The Universal Basic Education Board in Zamfara State, through its Better Education Service Delivery For All (BESDA) model has enrolled about 34,000 almajirai and 7,000 nomadic children as part of the plan to ensure basic education for all children of school age in the state.

 The arrangement for the programme started in 2017 but it actually took off in September 2019. It is supported by the World Bank.

Its objects include increased access to equitable education and provision of functional literacy, Yusuf Abubakar Mafara, Director of Social Mobilisation of the board, said.

 He said eight local government areas were selected for the intervention –  Bungudu, Bukuyyum, Bakura, Talata Mafara, Maradun, Gusau, Gummi and Kaura Namoda, 35 Tsangaya schools were selected in each of the local government areas except Gusau and Bungudu that have 36 schools each.

 “In total, we have 282 Tsangaya schools and in each of them, almajirai between the ages of 6 and 12 that have not been attending formal school were enrolled. We told their instructors that there was nothing wrong in them learning Qur’anic and at the same time giving them qualitative basic education.

 “And we are getting the support of the instructors of the Tsangaya schools because they understand what we mean by the new model. We called and enlightened them about the new model and we have no problem with them,” Yusuf said.

 Speaking on the mode of teaching the almajirai, the Director, Social Mobilization of the board, said they had recruited teachers most of them with NCE qualification to teach the almajirai. The teachers were identified and recruited through the emirate councils.

 “The teachers are placed on monthly stipends. The almajirai, their instructors and even their parents are happy about the new model and are giving their maximum support and cooperation to the system,” the director said.

 On whether they plan to expand the model beyond their current target, the director said the BESDA model had the lifespan of six years and it accommodates nomadic children and girl-child.

 “Our goal is to deliver basic education to these children and after that, they proceed to Junior Secondary school. And I can tell you that after the primary school education, the children will seek to go further, especially the brainy ones among them,” he added.

 On how the board made inroads in reaching out to nomadic children despite the security challenges, he said they got the cooperation of some nomads, who volunteered to sensitise the people by meeting them in the hard-to-reach areas.

 “In the eight local governments we intervened, we constructed several nomadic schools of one-block of three classrooms with office. We built them in about 36 Fulani settlements. Initially, we targeted about 720 children but we now have more than 4000 nomadic children enrolled.

 “The parents of the children gave us additional 3,000 children, making the number to soar to 7,000. Of course, we faced security challenges but despite that we made inroads in reaching out to them to educate them.

 “The parents of the children themselves want us to include them in the programme, so there is a collaboration between the Zamfara State Universal Basic Education Board, the Agency for Adult Education, and the Agency for Nomadic Education on the other hand to achieve this.

“We are making plans to educate the parents themselves because this would be a step towards reaching the children and we are succeeding,” he said.

 Comrade Abdulsamad Gidado Idris, the Secretary General of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and Fulbe Nanee Faame and Ta’alim Foundation in the state. He told our correspondent that despite the challenges they faced, they were successful in ensuring that the message reached the nomads in the hard-to-reach areas.

 Sometimes on our way to the Fulani settlements in the hard-to-reach areas, we would be confronted by gun totting men asking us who gave us the audacity to come to the forests.

 “But, because we were involved in the programme and we speak Fulfulde to them, they would allow us have access to their communities or settlements. I have written books to assist this noble cause,” Gidado said.

 “Parts of what we did to woo their cooperation and support is that the food vendors, the teachers and even the tailors sewing uniforms were selected from the benefitting communities,’’ he said.

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