By Charly Agwam – Bauchi
Maryam Alhassan, a 17-year-old breadwinner from Barkoti, Ningi local government area of Bauchi State, is elated to be attending school for the first time after her encounter with the School-based Management Committee (SBMC) of Sabuwa-Tiffi Primary School Ningi.
Until two months ago, Alhassan, the breadwinner of her family would hawk kunu (milled millet-drink) in the morning and boiled groundnut in the afternoon in various schools around Ningi, to sustain her family, even though she has been nursing the desire to go to school like other children.
“I really wish to go school like other children. Everytime I see other children in their classes, I wish I were them. I am 17 years old and I live with my parents. I would love to help my parents with their finances but I also want to be able to attend classes like others. There are plans to marry me off to one man in the neighbouring village but I wish I can have the opportunity to attend school so that I can be educated too.
“My parents have seven children but I am the only one who has never been to school. I wish I could ask my father why he didn’t send me to school but I can’t (because of tradition). I hawk different things to help my family. I sell kunu in the morning and then boiled groundnut in the afternoon. I make around N1,500 from selling only kunu,” Alhassan had told Bestof9ja while waiting for pupils to patronize her groundnut under a mango tree.
Meanwhile, the school committee for Girls Education Project 3 (GEP3) funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK and implemented by UNICEF) intervened through the Chairman of SBMC, Sabuwa-Tiffi Primary School Ningi, Dahiru Ali who reached out to Alhassan’s father to allow her attend school like other children in the community.
His words: “We met Alhassan’s father few weeks ago to know why his daughter has never been to school. After our conversation, he agreed that Maryam can now go to school. However, we will observe her closely to know the appropriate class for her because she has a unique case.”
Speaking with Bestof9ja news, the Executive Secretary of Basic Education, Ningi local government area, Salihu Mahmoud said the SBMC has helped to increase enrollment drive in the area and helped to create safe learning environment for pupils of various schools.
“The GEP3 programme which has lasted for 8 years has helped our education system in many ways. During this time, nine primary schools and nine secondary schools have witnessed enrollment drive and safe school learning. There is also the G4G training where mentors have also helped to drive enrollment of girls and provide psychological support.
“The programme has helped us to update our school records and everyone is now committed to their duties. SBMC members have become active through resource drive for school improvement. The attitude of most girls have improved in terms of good personal hygiene,” he said.