© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
SHOCKER: The model school in Kebbi State where pupils learn in the sun
By all standards, Tarasa Model Primary School, Tarasa Village in Birnin-Kebbi Local Government, Kebbi State, does not qualify to be called a model school.
Although primary school enrollment in Nigeria has increased in recent years, net attendance is only about 70 per cent, says UNICEF. And 60 percent of 10.5million out-of-school children in Nigeria are in the North.
Nigeria’s 10.5 million out-of-school children are the world’s highest number.
As a model school, Tarasa Primary School is littered with classrooms with no roofs, or those overgrown with grasses. It is a good example of a school begging for government attention, especially in a village where perception about formal education is negative.
A resident of the village, who simply gave his name as Abubakar, told the ICIR that many children, especially, girls, prefer “tala” — that is hawking — to going to school. He blamed this on parents, saying they don’t force their children to attend school.
This explains why there are many school-age children roaming the village during the school hours while there are only few in the classrooms, yet under threatening condition.
In a state that has 70 percent of its children out of school, has spent N250million on provision of furniture in different schools, and has spent N3.6 billion on rehabilitating various primary and secondary schools in the state, a heartbreak like that of Tarasa Model Primary School is not expected.
Kebbi State has N1.04billion unaccessed intervention fund with the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) out of the unaccessed N59.7billion by states of the federation between 2012 and 2016.
In March 2017, Muhammadu Magawata Aliero, Kebbi State Commissioner of Education, said the state had 398,000 children out of school.
According to Aliero, the state government had spent about N250 million on the provision of furniture in different schools across the state, while N3.6 billion was used to rehabilitate various primary and secondary schools in the state.
In late 2015, the United Nations for Children Fund (UNICEF) disclosed that 70 percent of children in the state were out of school.
But the condition of the supposed Model Primary School, Tarasa, doesn’t in any way make education an attractive prospect. The few children in schools are learning in a dilapidated building, sitting on benches and desks marked MDGs, which suggests that the state government’s rehabilitation exercise did not reach the agrarian village.
Nobody in the school was willing to talk, as a journalist was said to have been arrested and detained on the order of Seidu Dakingari, the immediate former Governor of the state, when he “reported what was considered an offensive report” about the same school.
“He was arrested and detained and later posted out the state because the state government said his report was meant to embarrass the government,” said a villager who declined to give his name.
No good learning and teaching can take place under these classrooms, whose roofs have been blown away since 2015. For two years, the innocent children have had to cope with rainfall and sun to acquire education, as no one has taken responsibility to repair the damaged roofs.
A security guard working in the school, who did not want to be mentioned, said a strong storm that accompanied a downpour wreaked havoc on the village and consequently left the roofs of a block of classrooms shattered.
He said nobody took action since the roofs were blown off, noting that other classrooms in the school had collapsed more than 10 years ago and nothing was done to repair them or construct new ones.
It was gathered that a former Chairman of Birnin Kebbi visited the school after the incident with a promise to fix the damaged roofs in 2016, but nothing was done.