The issue of out-of-school children has continued to linger over the years in Nigeria. Currently, records showed that Nigeria has about 10.2 million children who are not going to school.
While the number is alarming, experts at the recent concluded media dialogue on school Based Management committee (SBMCs) and Integrated Quranic Tsangaya Education (IQTE) in Kano, organised by UNICEF in collaboration with Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, have identified SBMCs as the closest structure to deliver basic education and also help in eradicating the challenge of out of school in Nigeria.
Global experience also shows that encouraging the communities around schools to get involved in improving and running their schools for themselves can make a big difference in the education of any nation.
In Nigeria, the advent of the School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) is turning the face of basic education delivery and also contributing in no small measure in resolving the crisis that hitherto existed between communities and the schools and also helping to address the issue of out of school children in some ways.
SBMCs, especially in Northern Nigeria are becoming a common tool in the education reform, helping schools to be more efficient, welcoming and more relevant to what parents, children and the whole community need from education through its unique approach of involving traditional, Religious and other community dwellers in running the schools.
LEADERSHIP gathered that, the SBMCs which was recommended in 2005 by the National Council on Education (NCE) at its 52nd Meeting through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) with the aim of bringing resources from the community into the school, and a way of getting a better flow of government resources to schools have now become the voice of the community in school governance.
It has been gathered that prior to the scheme, most of the communities were at loggerhead with their schools but with the advent of the initiative, many of them are now confident that the school belongs to them hence investing in massively and also serving as watchdogs to the schools, thereby encouraging school enrolment through the joint efforts of schools and the communities.
In view of the significance of SBMCs, the federal government recently approved the sum of 2.8billion grant for the School-Based management Committee-school Improvement Programme (SBMC), which is focus on the school community members who are the real owners of basic education. The Minister of education, Malam Adamu Adamu, represented by the permanent secretary, Sunny Echono at the flag-off ceremony in kano enjoined the states to redouble their commitments to improve education in their imperative states through SBMCs.
Some of the states who embrace this initiative are reaping gains of the scheme. In Kano where most of the schools are now using SBMCs by engaging with traditional and religious leaders, collaboration with Parents-Teachers Association and Mothers Associations and also working with Social Mobilization Officers at LGEA level to strengthen community participation in promoting equitable access to quality basic education for all children in school communities, there is progress in terms of enrolment, security and infrastructural development.
Through its approach of community involvement in school governance, based on regulation with elected but voluntary membership, the communities are ensuring quality both in educational inputs and outcomes and quality in learning environment for schools.
Some members of SBMCs in kano who spoke with our correspondent asserted that the scheme, whose membership cut across religious and community leaders, pupils, women associations, artisans, among others are helping to complement government efforts in the provision of basic needs and support for improvement of teaching and learning in primary and junior secondary schools.
The scheme, which has now gained momentum in some states following the support of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), through the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), is also experiencing massive increase in enrolment in several schools.
Generally, SBMCs in northern states had adopted flexible approaches to increasing school participation rates for boys and girls through various strategies that include, household mapping in order to identify families with children of school going age and persuade these families to enroll their female children in school and also promoting synergy between girls’ education programme and poverty alleviation programmes through family based education insurance policy.
During a visit to Warure Special Primary School, Gwale L.G.E.A, Kano where SBMC National policy was domesticated in 2009, the community members expressed satisfaction that since the introduction of SBMC in the school the community now felt that the school belongs to them and they are making donations and serious orientation on the need to give children former education.
The SBMC chairman of the school, Mallam Abubakar Ayau said the advent of the initiative in the school there is massive development. “SBMC was introduced in our schools since 2005 and their activities were to see that schools are in good shape and since 2005 that they started their job our school has achieved a lot. For instance SBMC organized and dug a borehole for our school and they have calling the attention of people to come to school so they are helping in many ways. They also provided a computer room for us with about 8 computers and some Corner shops that we are using the money derived from them to repair the school and help children.
“Before the SBMC we had about 10 blocks of classrooms in this school and some of them were not good and SBMC came to the rescues and now we over 30 class rooms in this school.
“Before the introduction of SBMC, enrolment of this school was not more than 1500 but now, in collaboration with mothers association, PTA and others, enrolment of the school is getting over 3200. SBMC members are going around the country to bring student back to school.”
Though the practices of School Based Management Committee may vary according to each zone and state policies but the goals typically include, increasing the participation of parents and communities in school, empowering school administrators and teachers, building local level capacity, improving quality and efficiency of basic schools, and perhaps the most importantly, providing equity and equality in access to basic education.
The head Teacher of Warure Special Primary School, Kano, Yusi Awalu Dandago revealed that the School-Based Management Committees (SBMCs) in the school comprised 17(8 female) members drawn from school pupils and teachers, traditional and religious institutions, artisans, Community Based organizations, school old pupils, women organization based on the State SBMC policy.
They are also mobilizing schools, churches and families in the north to make them understand the importance of girl-child education and also uplifting the disadvantage children.
Mallam Tijani Ibrahim, the spokesperson of SBMC in the school said the mothers’ associations are also playing a huge role in mobilizing children back to school, especially the orphans. “Mothers association went round the communities to orient people to bring their children. There were some orphans, they gave me record of about 96 orphans whom they were able to give uniform and taken back to school.” He however, urged the federal government to give more attention to children, especially orphans because there are a lot of them.
Mrs Hadiza Abdullahi is a member of the SBMC of Wurere special Primary school, Kano, under the mothers association lamented that despite their efforts to ensure. “We still need chairs, we need renovation of the classes and we also need more toilets, learning and teaching materials. Some parents don’t allow their girls to proceed to secondary schools after primary education but we are still giving them awareness.
In an interview with LEADERSHIP on while the federal government is making fresh budget to aid community schools through SBMCs, the director of Social Mobilization, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Alhaji Bello Kagara revealed that SBMC are the closest structure that should be engaged to partners with and assist in developing basic education. “Under the arrangement, we have put in some quality assurance mechanism. Number one is the selection process which starts from the local government. They receive applications from the various intending communities and forward their selected schools to the state.
“The second level of selection is that states will now correct and forward to UBEC. UBEC will now go out and verify before releasing the fund.
“The process is that at the beginning of the disbursement process, we first issue letters to all the UBEB across the country. For this year, the process has been completed, we are only going to start disbursement then by Oct-Nov next year we are going to start the process of 2020, we will issue letters to various states Basic Education Board to inform willing ABMCs to declare interest. In declaring interest, they will now have to develop proposals to identify key areas of community based needs like we want to provide furniture to X number of children or we want to build two blocks of classrooms. Once they do that they now submit their proposal to the LG.”
He revealed that communities are to provide 10% of whatever they are applying for before they will be eligible to benefits from the grant adding that each of the benefitting schools would receive a first disbursement of 75 percent payment of the total amount allocated to it, while the remaining 25 percent would be paid after the commission confirms its satisfaction with the utilization of monies released earlier. For the pilot phase, under the macro project, we are supporting 15 schools per state including FCT. For the micro project, we are supporting 50 schools per state and in special project we are supporting 120 of such.”
Our correspondent who spoke with some members of the mothers association further reported that most of the mothers are agitating against the early marriage trend of girls in the region despite serious awareness they have put in place. One of such woman showed concern is Mrs Falidah Abdullahi. According her, “It is very bad that small children girls are getting married which in effect is putting them into bladder problems at tender age. “We are creating awareness to others on the importance of education especially girls. We are encouraging them to acquire formal education.”
That notwithstanding, even though the initiative is making a huge impact, a chat with some members of SBMCs in Nigeria exposed some challenges confronting them. Director Social Mobilisation, Kano SUBEB, Amina Umar said the low capacity of SBMC members on evidence based advocacy for engaging duty bearers and lack of regular monitoring and mentoring of SBMCs by Civil Society and Government Partners, including limited resources among SBMCs and community members to support School Improvement Programmes are some of the hindering factors.
To overcome the challenges, Umar said ‘capacity building for SBMC members on evidence based advocacy for engaging duty bearers, regular monitoring and mentoring of SBMCs by Civil Society and Government Partners and provision of School Improvement Grants to SBMCs for support School Improvement Programmes.’