Established to ensure basic education for nomadic children and adults, nomadic schools in Bauchi State are not only abandoned but not serving their purposes anymore. In this report, WikkiTimes‘ Usman Babaji documented the enormous consequences of the negligence suffered by nomadic primary schools in the state, forcing pupils to abandon schools and resort to farming.
In an early morning nippy weather, Halima Abubakar, a 15-year-old pupil of Kwanan Dutse Nomadic Primary School moves eastward to the farm beside her father, apparently for the harvest of their household farm crops.
Hitherto, Halima had a dream of becoming a medical doctor but her hopes are slim. She stopped attending school and believes nothing interesting in the 14-year-old Kwanan Dutse nomadic primary school in Bauchi LG, the headquarters of Bauchi State.
She did not choose to stray, but the system frustrated her too. “I don’t want to go there, there is no single classroom there,” she said. “I was a pupil there for about four years and we were all the time sitting on bare dusty sand. It has never seemed like school, that’s why I am no longer interested in going again.”
Halima explained that most of her other classmates stopped attending lessons too.
WikkiTimes’ visit to Kwanan Dutse Nomadic School on November 7, 2022, no single pupil was present.
Established in 2008 at a community just 20 km away from the state governor’s office, the Kwanan Dutse Nomadic school is in a mess, pathetic and interprets how neglected most nomadic schools look in Bauchi State.
The school has no single block as a classroom. Although there is an aluminum mini container constructed by a foreign NGO about four years ago, WikkiTimes learnt. It was divided into two halves serving over 300 pupils. The school has no source of drinking water or toilet, it’s shirked.
A TEACHER, HEADMASTER AND MORE
A single staff member, Abubakar Abdullahi Usman is the headmaster, teacher and everything else of the Kwana Dutse Nomadic Primary School.
The strained teacher explained that the school was last provided with three core textbooks about a decade ago. “We have to borrow books,” he said.
He recalled that eight staff were deployed to the school but couldn’t endure attending the fiction-like school. They were transferred and he too wanted to leave.
“I requested for transfer, and I was told that if I left the school, it would shut down.”
In 2021, when WikkiTimes visited the school, nearly 100 pupils were in attendance. Sadly, a year after, no more pupils. “They don’t care about coming to school, most of them have gone to the farm – no pupils are around today,” the lone teacher and headmaster added.
Usman pleaded with the authorities to at least construct classes and provide the essential materials to facilitate learning in the school.
Despite annual budgetary allocation to the Bauchi State Agency for Nomadic Education (BASANE), nomadic education suffers the same odds in Bauchi communities.
WikkiTimes’ findings revealed that over N1.46 billion was approved for BASANE in the last four years (2019 to 2022).
SAME STORY EVERYWHERE
The tales of 13-year-old Luri and 22-year-old Wuro Jabbi Nomadic Primary Schools in Tafawa Balewa and Dass local councils are not in any way different from what we saw at Kwanan Dutse Nomadic Primary school.
There is one uncompleted block of two dilapidated classrooms in Luri nomadic school — also built by a foreign NGO years ago. Cracks defined its vulnerability to being destroyed by any thunderstorm or its like.
Burglars get it easy to cart away valuable materials as no single functional door or window is closed in the school. In a room supposed to be an office, wasted roofs and broken planks kept therein necessitated the staff to take important materials home or keep them with the nearby villagers against being stolen, according to Jafaru Adamu, the headmaster of the Luri nomadic school.
Jafaru noted that the dilapidated block was on the verge of falling down. “Look at the office, no door and we can’t keep anything inside. We carry the important materials home and sometimes they get destroyed, scattered or lost along the way”.
He decried that the pupils could not sit comfortably to concentrate, “because no desks, they sit on this bare dusty floor”, as the chalkboards remained in tatters Jafaru said the pupils couldn’t understand the text on a rough board.
Jafaru maintained that the miserable condition of the school discourages the pupils from attending classes regularly noting that a large number of the pupils withdrew and became farmers and herders. “In fact, the school is in horrific condition”, he bemoaned.
During the WikkiTimes‘ visit, the lessons were going on under the nearby trees while the instructional materials were placed under the scorching sun. The three staff of the school serve over 200 pupils.
CHOLERA OUTBREAK CAUSED BY CONTAMINATED WATER
In his grievous face, the headteacher noted that there was a cholera outbreak in 2021 in the school which he attributed to the lack of toilets and good water. “We don’t have even one toilet; they defecate openly and there is no water. That is why we had cases of a cholera outbreak”.
Mr Jafaru however acknowledged that textbooks were recently provided to the school, but the registers they use were bought by the staff out of their salary and the levies paid by pupils.
Likewise, Wuro Jabbi Nomadic Primary School in Dass LGA established 22 years ago is in its shambles; it’s a school of two blocks with two classes each. But burglars find it easy to invade and cart away valuables as windows and doors get broken.
Their collapsed toilet fell some years back and is now abandoned – the pupils, thus, resorted to open defecation.
Like other nomadic schools, there are only three staff in Luri primary school serving about 250 pupils, this apparently worsened the teacher/pupil ratio as seen in most of the nomadic schools in the state.
SCHOOL FEEDING SCHEME MOTIVATES PUPILS
However, the school feeding program initiated has helped to entice the pupils to attend schools according to Malam Isah Garba Bagas, the headmaster Wuro Jabbi nomadic school.
Malam Bagas, thus, appealed to the governments to increase their effort in the scheme as according to him the number of pupils doubles whenever the program is sustained. “Let the government make Nomadic schools special by creating attractive and motivating initiatives to retain the nomad pupils”, he pleaded.
Jibrin Saleh, the Head of School Services Dass LG, corroborated that most nomadic schools have inadequate classes and teachers. “The problems of nomadic schools are mostly the shortage of teachers and classrooms, especially in remote areas”.
He said most of the schools were built by the communities which would not be up to the needed standard.
Musa Ibrahim Ardo, the Secretary of the BASEMA said the Bauchi State government and the agency are working to address the plights of the nomadic schools, noting that lack of enough funds was the reason for the present condition of the schools.
He acknowledged that “Most nomadic schools either learn under trees or use structures built by the host communities”, but the agency prioritised enrolling the pupils into the basic education system first rather than the structure, “and we cannot wait until good structures are built before they start learning,” he added.
Ardo explained that there are 526 nomadic schools in the state with 1,273 teachers and 111,488 pupils under the nomadic scheme, adding that there are some nomadic schools recently built, “Kadaura and Kabul nomadic schools in Toro LG”, he stated.
The Secretary said the last recruitment of teachers was in 2015 but the state government and the agency are doing the needful to recruit more, explaining that before the agency was created in 2007, there were 149 schools but with their effort, there are 526 nomadic schools presently.
According to Ardo, with the help of volunteer graduates and in collaboration with the ministry of education, they initiated a nomadic vocational course allowing the nomad pupils to undergo during holidays.
He explained that under the scheme, 1150 pupils participated in the course. He said 923 sat and passed the assessment exams, now being absorbed into boarding schools and sponsored by the government.
Dr Aliyu Usman Tilde, the state commissioner of Education said the nomadic agency is an independent body in the state and is in a good position to respond.
However, in 2021, Dr Tilde lamented that Nomadic education had suffered neglect and had been abandoned for years in the past. “In the past five years, only seven projects were carried out under BASANE.
“Are these schools not part of the basic schools’ counts that are entitled to the attention that other similar schools get? These schools deserve to be treated as other schools”, he quoted.
This story was supported by the Udeme project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID)