Pupils under the G4G initiative at Kasuwan Daji Model Primary School, Kaura Namoda Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
By Hassan Zaggi
Following her determination to acquire formal education despite age- long tradition, a 11-years-old girl, Amina Isiya, has converted residents of her community to accept formal education.
Amina, a resident of a settlement in Kasuwan Daji, Kaura Namoda Local Government Area of Zamfara State, has vowed to continue with her formal education until she becomes a teacher so as to eradicate illiteracy in her community.
She is a pupil of Kasuwan Daji Model Primary School, Kaura Namoda Local Government Area.
Over the years, formal education is considered a taboo in the settlement where Amina was born. No one in the area has ever attended school.
Things have, however, change. Following Amina’s resistance, children in the settlement now attend school.
Responding to questions from The AUTHORITY, Amina said, “since I started coming to school, I feel happy.
“I want to become a teacher so that I can go back and teach children in my community. I want to eradicate illiteracy from our community.
“As it is now, I know how to read and write and I am happy about it.”
Kasuwan Daji Model Primary School is among the schools that is implementing the Girls for Girls (G4G) initiative funded by UK Department for International Development (DfID). The programme is being implemented by the United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF).
Narrating how Amina got enrolled in school, the Chief Mentor of the G4G initiative in the school, Malama Talatu Ibrahim, disclosed that Amina normally pass near the school for hawking at the time the G4G group are doing their trainings.
She normally drops her goods and watch the girls in admiration until they finish the training before she leaves.
The Chief Mentor explained that: “On that fateful day, after our training with the G4G group, Amina summoned the courage and entered the school.
“She told me that she wanted to be enrolled in school. I told her to go and tell her parents so that they can bring her the following day.
“Few days after, she came back and told me that her parents did not give her any attention but that if I talk to them, they will agree to enroll her in school.
“When I went and discuss with her mother on the need to allow Amina be enrolled in school, the mother told me that their family don’t allow their children to go to school.
“Amina then followed me to hear the outcome of my discussion with her mother, I told her that her mother refused. She, however, insisted that she wants to be enrolled in school so that she can join other girls to learn.
“Few days after, I went back and met both the father and mother, they reiterated that it was not possible for Amina to be enrolled in school because since the time of their forefathers, their children are not allowed to go to school.”
Malama Talatu continued that: “The following day, Amina came to me in the school to ask me the outcome of my discussion with her parents, I told her that the parents insisted that they will not enroll her in school. She started crying.
“I asked her why she is determined to be in school, she told me that in all their settlement, none of the children went to school and that she wants to start.
“I told her that since her parents rejected the idea, there is nothing I could do about it.
“She then suggested that I should enroll her and that whenever her parents give her things to go and sell, she will come and attend school first, after we close she can then go and sell the things.
“I told her that if I do that and her parents discover it, both of us will be in trouble because they can take any action against me being the teacher.
“I then told my husband about it and he followed me to Amina’s parents. My husband engaged Amina’s father in a discussion, the man insisted that it is against their tradition to allow their children to go to school, hence, he cannot break it.
“After resisting all plea, my husband stood up and as he was about to leave, he gave Amina’s father money. The man thanked my husband, but my husband told him that he gave him the money because his parents allowed him to go to school and now he can be able to assist others, hence, this is the benefit of education that his parents gave him.
“The man was ashamed and told my husband that even if he allows Amina to go to school, he has no money to sponsor her.
“My husband then promised to sponsor Amina and will be giving her money for upkeep when the need arises. He then agreed that Amina should be enrolled in school.”
Malama Talatu, however, said that something dramatic happened few months after.
According to her: “When children of the settlement both boys and girls saw that Amina has been enrolled in school, they too insisted that they must be enrolled.
“As it is now, close to 10 children are coming to school from that settlement.”
Speaking, the Head Teacher of the school, Kabir Yahaya, disclosed that the G4G intervention has dramatically increased the enrollment of children, especially, girls in the school.
The girls, according to him, “have received good training and have been able to influence other girls in town, this has brought about influx of girls in our school.
“The level of neatness of the girls have improved. They are now more conscious of their hygiene than before.
“Because of the G4G programme, the girls are bolder now, they can engage in debate without being timid or afraid.”
A cross section of residents of Kasuwan Daji interviewed by The AUTHORITY noted that there has been a change in the way their girls behave in recent times.
“Even though we do not know exactly what they girls are being taught in the school, but in recent times, the girls have become more conscious of their environment and their attitude towards personal hygiene have changed,” a resident of the area said.
The G4G Initiative is a component of the Girls’ Education Project (GEP) Phase 3, being implemented in northern Nigeria to help support girls to remain in school and improve their learning achievement.
The intervention also trains the girls on skills and leadership to give them courage to be assertive and proper hygiene.
In Zamfara state, 6 local government areas are involved in the project. They include Bungudu, Tsafe, Talata Mafara, Kaura Namoda, Shinkafi and Anka.
292 schools are currently implementing the programme in the 6 LGAs.
There are three mentors which are female teachers in each of the schools. A lead mentor and 2 others are championing the programme in each of the schools.