Poor, Dilapidated Infrastructure: Inside Bauchi School Where Girls Miss Classes During Menstruation

Despite the allocation of a N20 million budget for renovations in 2021, Yakubu Bauchi College of Islamic Studies (YBCIS) remains in a state of disrepair. The insufficient infrastructure, particularly the deteriorating condition of female toilets, leads to girls skipping classes and missing crucial lessons during their menstrual cycles. WikkiTimes’ Ogechukwu Victoria Ujam sheds light on the adverse effects on students, including suboptimal learning conditions, as illustrated in a classroom where over 100 pupils sit on the floor.

Students of YBCIS Learning while sitting on the floor

In the corridors of Yakubu Bauchi College of Islamic Studies (YBCIS), where education is esteemed but scarce, a recurring impediment disrupts the academic journey of female students. Aisha Yusuf, an SS1 pupil at the institution, finds herself compelled to forgo schooling during her monthly menstrual cycle due to the woeful state of the school’s facilities.

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“While my peers engage in the rigors of learning, I find myself occupied with domestic chores nearby,” laments Aisha, whose aspirations for education are hindered by a dilapidated female toilet facility at YBCIS. The facility, or lack thereof, presents a confluence of issues — fallen fences, absent doors, missing roofs, and overgrown grass — collectively impeding the ability of female students to manage their menstrual hygiene effectively. “Changing soaked pads becomes an arduous task in these conditions, and the healthiest recourse is to remain at home until the cycle concludes, adversely affecting our academic pursuits,” she adds.

Fallen Fence of the girl’s toilet at YBCIS

Aisha’s predicament is not unique, casting a shadow over a school that, for decades, has stood as a bastion of learning in a region where education is both revered and elusive. Erected in 1995, WikkiTimes reports that YBCIS spans from Islamic primary to secondary levels, catering to a student body of 1,500 in Toro local government area, the largest LGA in Bauchi.

Inside View of YBCIS Toro

The scholastic endeavor, however, comes at a considerable price for the students. The structural inadequacies of the institution are starkly evident, with pupils often relegated to sitting on bare cement floors or resorting to bringing their mats to class due to the shortage of chairs and desks. The decaying rooftops exacerbate their plight, leaving them exposed to the elements when rainfall is imminent.

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Decaying rooftops at YBCIS Toro

Efforts to address these issues through a planned renovation project, championed by Umar Muda Lawal, a representative in the House of Representatives, have fallen short of expectations. Intended as a constituency project, the initiative proved unsuccessful, leaving only the exam hall, staff room, and two offices renovated, while the critical concerns surrounding menstrual hygiene and overall infrastructural decay persist unabated at YBCIS.

The exam hall, staff room, and two offices were renovated at YBCIS Toro

In 2021, the Ministry of Science and Technology, through its Zonal Intervention Project, allocated a substantial sum of N20 million for the renovation of the school. The details of the contract award, as per the Zonal Intervention Project (ZIP) contract award information, reveal that Debiro Integrated Service Limited Suit emerged as the designated contractor for the project.

Signpost with information about the project

“However, a comprehensive investigation reveals that the aforementioned project remains incomplete, thereby subjecting students to suboptimal learning conditions.

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Upon scrutiny by the reporter into the status of Debiro Integrated Services Limited Suit on the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and Nigeria check.ng portal, it was observed that the contracting firm currently bears the status of “Search not found” – indicative of its inactive operational state.

Findings on Debiro integrated service limited site.

Based on regulations outlined by the Corporate Affairs Commission, inactive companies are those legal entities that have failed to adhere to Sections 417 – 424 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020, particularly concerning the submission of annual returns.

Section 417 of the Act stipulates that every company must, at least once a year, submit the requisite documentation to the commission. The absence of this compliance designates a company as inactive.

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Findings from an on-site visit conducted by our correspondent further underscore the project’s incomplete status. Notably, only a single examination hall, staff room, and two offices have undergone renovation. In stark contrast, the remaining blocks comprising classrooms and toilet facilities linger in a state of disrepair, despite the disbursement of funds allocated for the project.”

Dilapidated classroom at YBCIS Toro.

“Despite attempts to seek clarification, Mr. Lawal has yet to respond to calls or inquiries regarding the status of the project. Similarly, the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute, when approached through an FOI request, has not responded to the ongoing project.

Concurrently, on-site observations reveal a distressing scene of at least 100 pupils seated on the floor in a single classroom.

A teacher, speaking anonymously due to lack of authorization, explained the direct correlation between the inadequate facilities and a heightened rate of student dropouts.

The Vice Principal of YBCIS, Jamil Abubakar Gumor, acknowledged the infrastructure’s adverse impact on student enrollment. He disclosed that, following a fire incident in 2020 that consumed the exam hall, Mr. Lawal initiated renovations the subsequent year. Despite efforts to encourage community members to enroll their children, the persistently dilapidated condition of classrooms has deterred prospective students, leading to a decline in enrollment.

According to enrollment statistics, the primary section, which once accommodated at least 1,500 pupils, has dwindled to less than 500.

Mr. Gumor lamented the absence of basic amenities and highlighted the extensive dilapidation of 90% of the school structures, posing challenges for both teachers and students.

The dire condition of the school has become a serious concern for villagers, who express anxieties about the safety of their children. A resident, Libabatu Adams, cited structural concerns, recounting a partial collapse of the school building two years ago. She voiced apprehension, particularly for female students lacking suitable facilities during their menstrual cycles.

Another resident, opting for anonymity, decried the financial burden incurred in treating her daughters for health issues acquired from the school. She emphasized redirecting funds from treating infections to withdrawing her daughters from YBCIS, citing the compromised educational environment.

This report was produced under the UDEME project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID).

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