The Community Led Collective Action for Girls’ Education (C-CAGE) says, an urgent intervention is needed in schools in the northeast for the provision of water, hygiene and toilet facilities in order to mitigate the girl-child’s chances of dropping out of school.
The group says there are chances that over 20million girls might drop out of school due to the impact of Covid-19, hence all stakeholders need to work together to address the social, cultural and systemic factors inhibiting the girl-child’s access to education in the north east, Nigeria.
The group says, it has worked with relevant bodies to train 275 education stakeholders, and that it has created 16 safe spaces for girls in Adamawa which has led to about 960 enrollments of girls to school, saying these safe spaces have made it possible for about 606 in-school and out-of-school girls to be engaged in peer learning and experience sharing.
This was made known in a press statement by the groups, Senior Programme Manager, Lawal Amodu, yesterday in Yola, Adamawa State.
While addressing newsmen, Amodu said, “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 likelihood of them being dropouts.
“To effectively address the out of school girl challenge, Centre LSD has advocated to key stakeholders in the education sector, held town-hall meetings with key gatekeepers and media engagements, build capacity of selected education stakeholders and established safe spaces for in-school and out-of-school girls for the purpose of peer learning and experience sharing between and amongst the girls.”
He added that, “Beyond this, Centre LSD has engaged and trained 275 key education stakeholders comprising traditional/religious leaders, PTA and SBMC in selected communities of the three focal local government areas (LGAs) of Maiha, Numan and Song.
“The beneficiaries of this training have taken the 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 enrolment 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-school girls peer learning and sharing experiences and skills from one another twice in a month.
“The results of these activities led to an upsurge in the number of enrolment of girls who dropped out previously due to factors relating to poverty, cultural norms and insecurity.”
Speaking on the group’s progress, Amodu said, “At the inception of the project, the precarious situation of out-of-school children in Adamawa State indicated that the state accounted for 51 percent of the 60 percent out-of-school children in the North-East.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women and girls.
“Malala Fund’s latest research estimates that 20million more secondary school-aged girls could be out-of-school after the Covid-19 crisis has abated. The implication of this will be enormous for our society.
“The current schools safety realities as there relate to the Covid-19 regulations require an urgent intervention as clean water, toilets and hygiene which are essential components of the regulations are grossly lacking.”
The group while commending the Governor Ahmadu Fintiri-led Adamawa State Government for its free education policy, drew the government’s attention to some hidden charges exerted upon students and its inconsistent implementation in rural and urban areas, where school fees are still exerted in the former.
Amodu said, “While we commend the state government for its commitment to free education in the state and its effort at removing financial burden of examination fees off the students, particularly those writing their Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE), government must continue to monitor and ensure the full implementation of the free education programme across the state.
“The reality of free education seems to be effective in the state capitals while the same cannot be said of the rural areas where it is needed most.
“Another major challenge identified relates to the burden of hidden charges levied on students in various schools in the focal communities by the 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 de-motivate in-school students from continuing their education while also discouraging potential returnee out-of-school girls from enrolment.
“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.
“Such charges have the capacity to de-motivate children who are willing to go to school but cannot afford the levies.”
The project is being implemented in the three Senatorial Districts of Adamawa State with three focal local government areas of Numan in the South, Song at the Central and Maiha in the North.
CAS Lauds Troops For Exceptional Performance In South-East Operation
Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has lauded Nigerian Air Force (NAF) troops for exceptional performance in ongoing Joint Task Force in the South-East code-named “Operation Udo Ka II”.
Abubakar said this yesterday in Enugu during his maiden visit and tour of operational and training assets and facilities within NAF Ground Training Command (GTC), Enugu.
He noted that NAF troops had done exceptionally well and recorded series of success in the joint operation meant to keep the South-East safe and secured for all.
The CAS noted that the GTC Command was highly important to NAF as it housed the ground component (non technical component) as well as a unit of air component necessary to ensure the attainment of the mandate of NAF.
He said: “Today, we are in Enugu, which is the host of the GTC Command in our maiden visit and we are here to interact with the NAF personnel, see the facilities and infrastructure on ground.
“We are also here to encourage the personnel to continue to do the good job they had been doing before now.
“The GTC Command and the Air Training Command are key to all of our activities in NAF and the two commands ensure we have the adequate and skilled manpower for all our activities and operations.
“I am also here to strengthen our activities within Operation Udo Ka II, which Enugu is the headquarters, and see how we can achieve greater successes more than what we are having now and ensure that South-East is totally secured.”
He disclosed that 750 personnel were currently undergoing training and would be graduating between December 2023 and January, 2024.
“These training are important to us in terms of our operation; and the current number is very significant amount of manpower to be injected into our operations and other activities in the country,” he said.
On the inspection in the new GTC Command Headquarters, new 553 Base Services Group (BSG) Headquarters and BSG Annex; Abubakar said that he was quite satisfied and impressed with the pace, level and quality of work done already.
“I have taken out time to inspect the projects and asked questions about the projects and I tell you that I am satisfied with what are on ground and all our assets and facilities are well maintained and protected,” he said.
The NAF boss commended NAF officers, airmen and airwomen in GTC Command for “doing a good job and keeping the flag flying high” as well as extolled their sacrifices and commitment to duties as well.
“I am very happy for their performance. We at the NAF headquarters, we are doing all we can to make sure they have all the necessary support and equipment as well as welfare and accommodation to carry out their jobs effectively,” he said.
He assured NAF personnel of doing more by providing all necessary infrastructures to ensure the maximum working of the GTC Command.
The CAS also inaugurated a renovated airmen’s club and new Mrs Rakiya Abubakar Children’s Park as well as inspected the water treatment and reticulation system and the hospital within NAF Base, Abakpa in Enugu.
UNIBADAN Lecturer Wins Best Thesis Dollar Prize
The Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), University of Lagos, has announced Dr Muhammad Ribadu as winner of this year’s Rahamon Bello Best Ph.D thesis in African Studies award.
The Director of the institute, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, made the announcement in a statement issued to newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
Ribadu, of the University of Ibadan, will be rewarded with a total of 1000 dollars, a plaque and a certificate.
Falaiye said a total of 18 entries for the 4th edition of competition were received from various universities in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa
He gave the title of the winning thesis as: The Social Context of Gentrification in Lagos State; Ph.D (Jan. 2023) Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan.
“The first runner up for this competition was Oluwaseyi Popogbe, currently a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Crawford University in Ogun.
“The title of his thesis is: Social Exclusion and Poverty in Selected Coastal Slum Areas in Lagos State; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) Department of Economics University of Lagos.
“The second runner up position went to Dr Charles Akwen, currently a lecturer at the Department of English, University of Lagos.
“Akwen’s thesis is titled: Notions of Identity in the Literary Creativity of Odia Ofeimun and Yang Mu; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) English Literature, University of Lagos,” the director stated.
He said that both the first and second runners up would be awarded plaques and certificates in recognition of their contributions and hard work.
Falaiye noted that the competition was in honour of Prof. Rahamon Bello, who was the 10th Vice Chancellor of the university, at the time the institute was inaugurated.
The prize money is usually donated every year for the award by friends of Prof. Bello.
Falaiye said that Dec, 6, had been fixed for the presentation of the awards.
The Tide source reports that the award was first presented in 2020.
States, LGs Lack Infrastructure To Manage Ecological Fund, Shun Queries – Perm Sec
The 36 states of the federation and the 774 local government councils have no structure in place to manage Ecological Fund.
The declaration was made in Abuja, yesterday, by the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Project Office, Malam Shehu Ibrahim.
Ibrahim made the declaration at an interactive session with the House Representatives Committee on Ecological Fund.
He said since states and local governments began to share the fund with the Federal Government they had not been able to put structures in place to manage their share.
The Ecological Fund is an intervention fund by the Federal Government to address the multifarious ecological challenges in various communities in the country.
Ibrahim told the house committee that the sharing of the fund among the three tiers of government followed a court decision.
He said governors and local council chairmen never welcomed queries about how they deployed the ecological funds.
“It is a `no-go’ area,’’ he quipped.
“They don’t want to see officials of the Ecological Project Office near them; so we cannot ask them how they spend the money,’’ he added.
Ibrahim said also that all motions by the National Assembly regarding intervention on ecological project matters had been treated.
“The Ecological Project Office acts expeditiously on documents sent to it to solve problems; it looks at some of the gaps within the motion and tries to fill the gaps, and we have had more than five of such motions.
“ The Ecological Project Office does not handle funds; it only appraises projects and makes recommendations to the president,’’ he said.
The permanent secretary explained that it is the Ministry of Finance that manages the fund and the projects.
He stressed that it was a misconception that the Ecological Project Office is in charge of funds and at liberty to decide on where projects would be sited with the money in its coffers.
He said whenever there were interventions; the Ecological Project Office informed affected communities and went with the contractor to hand over the projects to the community.
This is to enable the community to take ownership of the intervention and communicate their observations to the project office.
Responding, Rep. Sani Jaji (APC-Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji), chairman of the committee, said there should always be stakeholders engagement before embarking on ecological fund intervention projects.
He noted that the projects were stakeholders’ projects and failure to include the stakeholders would always lead to security breach.
“So many things happened with UNICEF’s polio vaccine rejection; but when it included stakeholders, people began to accept the vaccine.
“It is critical to involve stakeholders and ensure equity. Security cannot be the reason why you won’t execute projects in certain parts of the country.
“The perception about your office is that there is money out there; so you need to change that perception and let people know that you have limitations about the execution of projects,’’ he said.
Jaji challenged the Ecological Fund Project Office to provide the needed advice to the president to enable him to take the correct steps.