A report by the project Community led Collective Action for Girls Education (C-CAGE), has disclosed that the burden of hidden charges on students may lead more girls to drop out of schools, a development that is obverse to the state government’s posture to ensure free basic education for all.
The Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri led government has upon inception made basic education free and compulsory for all children in the state.
But since the commencement of the policy, complaints of unilateral collection of levies by parents against schools became pervasive to the extent many parents say the policy was dead on arrival.
But in its bi-annual press conference which held in Yola, Friday, the center noted that based on its findings, schools in the three focal local governments of Numan, Maiha and Song under its purview are charging hidden levies, a development that may send school aged children out of school with emphasis on the girl child.
Making the findings of his organisation known during a session with the press, Mr. Lawal Amodu, senior programme officer, African Center for Leadership Strategy and Development (Center LSD), said the hidden charges present huge challenge to the quest for enrollment of more girl-child into schools.
” Another major challenge identified, relates to the burden of hidden charges levied on students in the various schools in the focal communities by principals in conjunction with the schools’ PTA.
“These levies are not only problematic, to some of the parents and guardians but also have the capacity to demotivate in-school students from continuing their education while also discouraging potential returnee out-of-schoolgirls from enrollment.
” Meanwhile, this is happening in the face of the free basic education for all enshrined in the UBE Act, 2004 and taken forward by the government of Adamawa State,” Amodu said.
He noted that other challenges capable of hampering girl-child education include; lack of qualified teachers, absence of standard WASH facilities, which greatly affect the girl-child negatively, inadequate, dilapidated and I’ll equipped classrooms and the COVID-19 incursion which induced lock downs by the government.
Amodu however noted that since the coming of his organization into the state in 2019, an upsurge in enrolment of more girl-child into schools have been recorded as a result of multi faceted approach strategies put up by his organization.
” At the inception of the project, the precarious situation of out-of-school children in Adamawa State indicated that Adamawa State accounted for 51 percent of the 60 percent out-of-school children in the Northeast. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected women and girls.
” The current schools’ safety realities as it relates to to the COVID-19 regulations requires and urgent intervention as clean water, toilets and hygiene which are essential components of the regulations are grossly lacking.
“In Nigeria, limited access to water, sanitation and hygiene is a major barrier preventing girls from learning. Schools lack washrooms and poor conditions force girls to leave school grounds to attend to their sanitary needs, thereby increasing the livelihood of them being dropouts.
” To effectively address the out-of-school challenge, Center LSD has advocated to key stakeholders in education sector, held town hall meetings with key gate keepers and media engagements, build capacity of selected education stakeholders and established safe spaces for in-school and out-of-schoolgirls for the purpose of peer learning and experience sharing sharing between and amongst the girls.
“Beyond this, Center LSD has engaged and trained 275 key education stakeholders comprising traditional/religious leaders, PTA and SBMC in selected communities of the three focal local governments of Song, Numan and Maiha.
” The beneficiaries of this trainings have taken knowledge received further by stepping down the training to other members of the community.
“For us this has further deepened the awareness on the need for girl-child education in the areas. Today we can confidently report that these engagements have resulted in the enrollment of 960 girls to school in some communities in the LGAs. Also, a total of 16 safe spaces have been established with 606 in-school and out-of-schoolgirls peer learning and sharing experiences and skills from one another twice in a months,” Amodu said.