fbpx
FeaturesSpecial Report

‘Owned by the people’: Deepening accountability and transparency in Kaduna primary schools

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO

“Formerly, the contractors will come, and we will suddenly see them working. The community will be watching. With the coming of PARE the community now know their rights, especially the School Based Management Committees (SBMCs). When the contractors arrive, they have to contact SBMC, and then the village head. We were trained by PARE to know the quantity of cement and sand to be brought, so as to know the quality of the block that’s going to be produced. The rapport between the contractor, the SBMC and the headmaster is impressive,” says Thomas Irimiya of Gora Katul, Kachia local government, Kaduna state as he opens up on the manifest changes in his farming community.

The Pastoral Resolve (PARE) is a non-profit making charitable organisation whose goal is promoting peaceful and harmonious coexistence among diverse rural agricultural and pastoral communities in Nigeria, which was supported by the MacArthur Foundation to implement an educational accountability project in Kaduna state.

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
Children on the swings at Gora Katul, Kachia Local Govrnement Area

At the LEA primary school where Irmiya works, it is break time when we visited, and many children play on the swings as well as the locally fabricated ‘merry go round.’ Sunshine falls gently upon them as well as the green fields around the school. The ‘games village’ is an outcome of the PARE intervention, and has played a role in increasing pupil enrolment in the school.

‘From 15 pupils to 400’

Habib Mohammed, who is a community representative at the LEA Primary school, Gora Katul SBMC adds “Initially in this school the total pupil enrolment was not more than fifteen. This was five years ago in 2017. With the regular meetings convened by this project, parents were sensitised and enlightened on the importance of education. The enrolment has now increased to about four hundred pupils.”

According to Hafsat Abdullahi who is the PARE Project Manager, the goal of the MacArthur supported project is to forge a transparent working relationship between the school management, the community leaders and the contractors. She stated “primary education in Nigeria has been an ecosystem characterised by weak accountability, lacklustre community involvement, weak infrastructure and poor funding and these were the challenges that we have been addressing over these years”.

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
Muhammad Gangarida allowed part of his palace to be used as a primary school

Primary school in palace

In Igabi local government of Kaduna state, the UBE Primary School Hayin Mallam Bello, Rigasa District, has an interesting story behind it. The school began in the palace of Muhammad Kabir Gangarida, the Village Head. Some years ago Adamu Suleiman, Chairman of the School Based Management Committee (SBMC) wrote to the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) making a case for a primary school in the community. SUBEB advised that the community should use any available space to begin the school before government intervention.

“The Village Head then gave out a part of his palace to start the school”, says the SBMC Chairman, adding that the royal father demarcated parts of the palace for the purpose. The area where we met him sitting and receiving guests was actually class IA, while the part where guests sat whenever they visit, was class IB. The transformation of his palace is rooted in a wish to raise the standard of education, to give opportunities and improve enrolment in the community.

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
Adamu Suleiman Chairman SBMC UBE Hayin Mallam Bello.

‘125 to 411 pupils’

Gangarida also assisted by regularly paying the transport fares for the teachers. Coming under the influence of the PARE and MacArthur intervention, the school has grown in leaps and bounds. It has since relocated from the palace, and now has about 411 pupils. For the community, the project that aimed at turning around education at the primary level, resting on a foundation which connects SUBEB, SBMC, women leaders and parents, has yielded the desired results. There were one hundred and twenty five (125) pupils when the school started in November 2015. Today, it has four arms of class I, a mosque and a convenience all constructed by KADSUBEB with funding from UBEC with 411 pupils.

‘70% increase’

Abdullahi Adamu is Desk Officer, SBMC Rigachikun. He speaks of an increase in enrolment due to massive awareness of both parents and pupils, as well as the monitoring of teachers in the school. “There is 70% increase in enrolment this year in Igabi local government,” he reveals.

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
Hayin Mallam Bello Primary School Rigasa, Kaduna is an impressive storey building today. It first started as a school within a palace

On enrolment of the girl-child, he says “the increase in enrolment of the girl child is 60%. There are 289 schools and about 2,400 teachers in the entire local government.” He explains that there has been an increase in the number of SBMCs in Igabi local government. At a point some SBMCs were not functioning at all, or, on the other hand, not even in existence, but presently, the project has made all our SBMCs effective in mobilising communities to enrol children in school, as well supporting us to run the schools.

Accountability, transparency

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
We were taught about recordkeeping, transparency and accountability argues Aishatu Babayola

Aishatu Muhammad Babayola, the headmistress of the school goes down memory lane “By 2019 we joined the PARE intervention. Ours is one of the schools attending the Project’s trainings up till date. They taught us how to do advocacy and how to maintain the school. We were taught record keeping, accountability and transparency, and how to do follow ups with government agencies especially the Local Government Education Department.”

According to Dr. Saleh Momale, the former Executive Director of PARE, one of the major results of the Project intervention is the deepened involvement of community leaders in the demand for transparency and accountability in the process of contract execution. Again, there was deliberate efforts by the project to support the community members to enrol the school as one of the beneficiaries of Universal Basic education (UBE) special grants to schools. For Aishatu Babayola, her school was a direct beneficiary of this enhanced capacity, as two classrooms were built in April 2021 from the UBEC special grant.

Babayola further states that PARE sensitised the group on how to mobilise the community to maintain the school, as well as how to create a school development plan. A document provided by PARE highlights the scale of the crises in the public schools. “The problem of low enrolment, retention and transition of students is most pronounced in the northern states of the country where high level of illiteracy, poverty and cultural factors contribute in creating the problem.”

Raising standards

The Pastoral Resolve (PARE) has led project interventions addressing various aspects of basic education, organising awareness events, training workshops and facilitating interactions between communities and senior officials of the Kaduna State Universal Education Board (KADSUBEB) and the Local Government Education Departments (LGAs). These interventions are aimed at raising the standard of primary education in three local government areas of Kaduna state, namely Kachia, Igabi and Makarfi.

The purpose is to improve the level of participation of trained community actors in the demand for accountability and transparency on government projects, especially those related to basic education service delivery. The MacArthur Foundation provided the funding and other necessary technical support to PARE in this initiative. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is ‘a private Foundation that makes grants and impacts investments to support non-profit organisations in approximately 50 countries around the world’. MacArthur ‘supports people and organisations working to address a variety of complex societal challenges,’ states an online platform.

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
Mallam Jalo Model Primary School, Riga Chikun.

‘Local communities own the projects’

It was inspiring when interacting with community members who showed that they understood and were conversant with technical terms such as technical design, bill of quantity and unit cost. They are now able to distinguish a quality zinc sheet, as opposed to a fake one, a quality block from a substandard one. They ask contractors critical questions when a contract has been awarded and demand to know the details of the contract. They actively participate when a classroom is being constructed, bringing accountability and transparency to the entire process. The communities now own the project, unlike the past when they stood aside.

Several instances of communities demanding participation and accountability were encountered. In Makarfi local government, community members are getting more enlightened on their roles in monitoring public projects. In late 2021 there was a capacity building training for community leaders on how to effectively communicate and interface with both government officials and contractors to demand for accountability. Arising from the training, for every project now awarded in the LGA, the contractor must meet with the head teacher through the SBMCs and village head of the areas before the work commences. Through this process, good working relationship is built between the school management, the village head and the contractor.

‘Power of follow ups’

At a point Government Junior Secondary School, Katabu, Igabi local government did not have enough classrooms, and the school authority had written to the ministry of education, the local government as well as the school’s PTA to assist in this regard.

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
Alh. Sabiu Suleiman District Head Kachia speaks positively on the work of PARE in his community

With the help of the project implemented by PARE, 12 classrooms were built in the school. Yusuf Umar Shuwaki, former Vice Principal (Academics) adds “We had 4,852 pupils and we squeezed them into the few classes that existed, but with this new construction, the overcrowding of the classrooms has significantly reduced.” The construction of the classrooms was made possible because of the continuous follow up by the community and SBMC, using skills gained from the PARE project”.

‘How to track contracts’

Shuwaki speaks on other impacts. “It (i.e. the project) has shown us how to track contracts, and the procedure we ought to follow at every stage of the contract execution. We also received enlightenment on how to test the quality of materials used in building classrooms. We also received information on how to do follow ups. If there is a space of two months and work is not done at a building site, the project encouraged us to do follow ups.” He anticipates that in the next 5 years more pupils will be enrolled in schools, and the quality of education will improve.

‘The quality of materials’

Kachia local government in Kaduna state has three hundred and thirty-five (335) public primary schools and a significant school going population, says Augustine Ishaya, Senior Social Mobilisation Officer, Community Participation in the Local Government.

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
Signboard in Ladduga grazing reserve

On the contributions of the project, he adds “In the past, once a contract is awarded to a school, the community where the school is sited won’t know anything. The contractor will come and begin to work. After a while he will leave. They will not even be aware of the kind of material to be used during the contract. PARE and MacArthur enlightened us and informed us that once a contractor is carrying out any work, first of all you must know what kind of work he is going to deliver, the quality of materials he is expected to use, and how much of these he is expected to use in the work. The project has really helped in educating the Kachia community, and that is why if anything comes their way, they make sure they get the best.”

‘Culture of volunteerism’

He gives the example of Gora Katul community in the local government. His words “When the contractor came, he wanted to do substandard work. The people said they will not entertain that. They asked for the bill of quantity, and the contract agreement, so they will go through it, to understand what is happening. He produced all these things and at the end of the day he gave them what was required. The idea of transparency and accountability is spreading in the community.”

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
Some of the primary schools are located in remote hard to reach places.

Ishaya adds that many of the communities are employing graduates and NCE holders to serve as volunteers in the primary schools, where there is already a shortage of teachers. Hear him “Because of the shortage of teachers in the local government, almost all the schools have volunteers. Some have three or four volunteers, and they are given a token at the end of the month. The culture of volunteerism is growing.”

‘Only 5 undergraduates’

“By the time the Kachia Educational Development Association (KEDA) was established we had only five (5) Kachia indigenes studying in institutions of higher learning in the whole country. I repeat there were only five studying at the time KEDA was established. When we talk of secondary education only 1% have three credits after writing WAEC. We started thinking. Is this the way the community will continue,” says Mutaka Abubakar, Administrative Secretary, Kachia Educational Development Association (KEDA), an association which has done considerable work raising educational standards in the area.

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
One of the many schools in Ladduga grazing reserve.

“That is the reason KEDA was established. By the time it was set up we concentrated mostly on Kachia because we have been left out. Most of the communities around us like Jaba, Fulani and Kadara have gone far in terms of education. We decided that the Hausa community here in Kachia should set up KEDA to improve conditions among our people,” recalls Abubakar.

‘A problem concerning the girl-child’

Alhaji Sabiu Suleiman, District Head, Kachia speaking in his palace, sheds light on the impact of project in his community. “Before the advent of PARE and the project, we had a problem concerning girl child education, some of which include children dropping out of school; some were orphans, as well as those whose parents could not shoulder their educational responsibilities. However, the arrival of this organisation turned things around for the better. If you go round Kachia you hardly see children that are not attending schools at the moment. They are all enrolled in schools, both western and religious schools.”

‘Monitor projects’

He speaks on the huge change that has taken place in Kachia “We are taught to monitor projects executed by contractors. In those days even if we notice ongoing rehabilitation and reconstruction of schools, we hardly uttered a word, whether we were informed or not. As at now no ongoing project is executed without our knowledge. We supervise to ensure that cement, asbestos roofing sheets are of good quality, and make sure that the floor is smooth. We make findings to be sure that the amount of money allocated to the project agrees with what obtains on the ground.”

200 Woman leaders

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
Amina Shehu, Woman Leader, Kachia

Amina Shehu is the overall Woman Leader SBMC, Kachia local government. She says there are two hundred women leaders in the local government.

According to her “In every school in Kachia local government, there must be a woman leader working together with them. In the past contracts did not involve women, but with the coming of PARE, we now work together. If there is any contract given, it involves women from that community. They will bargain with the women. The women will also make an arrangement to support the community by fetching water, if there is any support that they can give through this programme they are involved in, they will provide it.”

‘We now have 38 schools’

Ardo Ayuba Ladduga of Ladduga grazing reserve recalls “Whenever we are invited to attend a workshop organised by PARE, we get a lot of education there. They teach us how to manage our schools, including ways of encouraging parents to send their children to school, especially on how to manage the schools.” He continues “Formerly, we had very few schools in Ladduga. Presently we have thirty-eight (38) located in various communities within the grazing reserve which is made up of 73,411 hectares. As a result of education provided by PARE, most of the parents are now willing to send their children to school.”

He confesses “Before PARE intervened our parents used to allow their girls to marry early, but now the women have been educated. In many of the schools you will see many females completing their education.”

Ayuba adds that out of the thirty-eight (38) schools in the reserve which has thousands of pastoralists, only twenty-nine have teachers provided by the government. The remaining schools are under the supervision of parents.

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
One of the many poor feeder roads in Ladduga connecting one community to the next.

Through advocacy the Ladduga community built two classrooms in June 2021 under the self-help project for a head teacher who was living far away from the school, and had difficulty getting to the school where he was posted. Wuro Sheto community also bought a motorcycle for one of the teachers who lived far away. Also, Nyola Pulaaku community built a compound for a teacher who lived at a considerable distance from the school. All these were fall outs of the training recognising the value of teachers held by PARE, which showed the communities how to value and reward teachers for better quality service delivery. Many of the schools are located in remote underserved parts of the Ladduga grazing reserve, where there are more footpaths than roads. Bridges made of logs of wood and branches, lie above the many streams which are full of water during the rainy season.

‘One school 1,018 pupils’

Commenting further, Ayuba reasons “The Wuro Fulbe school has 1,018 pupils. Of this number the female enrolment is about 700 plus. It was not like that before. We did a lot of things, but we still have circumstances that hinder development in education, like lack of teachers in the primary schools. As I said we have 38 primary schools with only 29 teachers. We expect that some of the 29 will be sent away. The number of teachers working for the state government is dropping, and there must be government intervention if we want the educational sector to grow.”

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
Mutaka Abubakar Administrative Secretary KEDA

He points out that there are 28 communities in the reserve that are yet to benefit from the intervention of PARE.

‘Projects meant for communities’

According to Ayuba “Part of the education we received include accountability and project monitoring. In the past people see projects as if they are government projects in our community. We now realise that projects are meant for the community. They are owned by the community. Therefore whatever the contractor is doing, a community should have a say and should know how to say it in a way that will not jeopardise the project. A lot of things have been normalised because even the SMC, PTA, and some of the teachers are now more aware of their rights.”

Soap making

The workshops have also triggered other developments within the reserve especially among the womenfolk: women were trained in the art of soap and shampoo making, as well as methods of producing a ‘local form of bournvita,’ and this has improved their personal economies. Five hundred bottles of liquid soap are produced in Ladduga every month and there is possibility of raising this number, we are told. At least five hundred (500) women are engaged in the soap making trade within Ladduga, says Hafsat Ibrahim Tilde, who is busy preparing soap in a huge bowl with a group of other women when we arrive.

‘The only teacher’

“Three years ago I was the only teacher in the school. All the rest were volunteers. I was everything here. I was head teacher, assistant, class teacher, says Hamza Bako of the Nomadic Primary School, Wuro Fulbe.

“Before, the population of the girl child in the school was low. We had 300. Now we the number has risen to about 600. Also, through the workshop we discovered that there are some problems we can solve by ourselves. For instance, the wind blew off the roof of the school. Before the workshop we were writing to the government to repair it. We called the stakeholders and discussed and found a way to resolve the problem. We now do things openly and in a transparent fashion.”

‘335 schools in Kachia LG’

The idea that Projects in schools can be owned by communities, that this bond will improve primary education, girl-child enrolment, and extend life to the teaching profession itself, lies at the heart of a new intervention by a Foundation and an NGO
A teacher

“There are 335 schools in the local government, including 110,000 pupils. The females surpass the males. PAREs intervention is commendable. It has helped in educating the community to participate fully in the education of their children, and help us to execute projects at the right time,” says Yakubu Tambaya, Head Planning, Research and Statistics, Kachia Local Government Educational Authority, presenting statistics relating to primary education in the local government.

He reveals “Part of the education we received from PARE include accountability and project monitoring. In the past people see projects as if they are government projects in our community. Now many realise that projects are meant for the community. They are owned by the community. Therefore whatever a contractor is doing, a community should have a say, and to know how to say it in a way that it will aid rather than hinder the project.”

‘No proper planning, no record keeping’

“The total number of teachers in Kachia local government is 1,300 for the 335 schools. As it is now, we have schools that have zero teachers. There is not a single teacher to manage them. However, speaking generally, things have changed dramatically in the last four years with the intervention of PARE. Girl child enrolment has increased, and retention of pupils in schools has increased.”

Irimiya adds that girl child enrolment at the Gora Katul school has increased, from an insignificant figure just a little while ago. He says that this was achieved through an interface with the religious and traditional leaders, as well as the larger community.

He comments on other fall outs of the intervention “One of the impacts is transparency and accountability. In the past we were doing things at random, no proper planning and no record keeping. Now we have our account book, and they told us how to do the record keeping. In other words, we are able to record what goes in, and what goes out, and how to give feedback on whatever we are doing.” In Kaduna state a wind of change is blowing through the public primary schools, raising the standard of education, while also deepening transparency and accountability.

  • This report was supported by The Pastoral Resolve (PARE)
Show More

Leave a comment

Back to top button
%d bloggers like this: