By Abubakar Baba Ahmad
It is almost 10 years now the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF introduced the Girls Education Project Phase 3 GEP 3 in six northern states with the aim of enrolling one million girls as well as ensuring their retention, completion and transition to higher level of education.
Hauwa Shehu Sabo and Gloria Tela are among the hundreds of girls trained under the UNICEF GEP 3 Girls for Girls G4G initiative at Junior Secondary school Miya in Ganjuwa local government area of Bauchi State.
Now in their third year of Upper Basic Education, the Teenage girls have received adequate training and support in all aspects of the G4G as coordinated by UNICEF’s partner High Level Women Advocates HiLWA.
Correspondent Abubakar Baba explores how various interventions from development partners helped in school retention and transition from one level to another with more emphasis on the Impact of G4G on girls’ education.
JSS Miya is one out of dozens of schools from the six selected LGAs that benefitted from the GEP 3 G4G initiative in Bauchi State.
The school has a total population of 693 students with 395 boys and 298 girls, including 21 teachers.
Lack of Watchmen, that is Security guards coupled with non existence of a perimeter fence may not be unconnected with the establishment of the G4G Initiative to equip the girls with necessary skills to protect themselves.
With the knowledge acquired on life skills to include Safety drills in times of emergencies as well as Sexual and Gender Based Violence, Hauwa and Gloria have chosen healthcare sector as their career in order to save the lives of fellow girls and women.
Hauwa Sabo, a G4G state menstrual hygiene facilitator narrates how she drew inspiration from her elder sister who is a nurse and believed that she can make a difference considering the plight of women especially during pregnancy.
“Firstly, I want to proceed the Secondary school Nabordo after completing my basic 9 and then move to nursing school just like my elder sister to pursue career in the health sector so that I can help women and girls in need of medical attention in Miya community”, she shares.
The 17 year old Gloria Tela on the other hand whose two elder siblings had broken the barriers of earning a higher educational qualification, said her greatest dream is to overcome the challenge facing girl child education in the area which is transitioning to Senior Secondary school.
“I have my brother Caleb Matthew and sister Deborah Dula who went for tertiary education, and so I want to follow their footsteps so that I can become either a Doctor or a nurse to save the lives of my people in the rural areas”, Gloria narrates.
The things that stood glaring where the energy and vigor the G4G girls exerted especially during the emergency drills, being conscious of their safety, body and chastity as well as the zeal of pursuing their individual goals and careers in a society characterised by culture of gender and masculinity domination.
Radio Nigeria caught a hold of a class of 25 girls having their daily session of G4G songs and lessons.
Hajiya Halima Dimis is the Secretary General of HiLWA in Bauchi State and the organisation is working to ensure that the girls and many others achieve their dreams and goals.
Hajiya Halima who is also the Head of Programmes Bauchi State Television said all HiLWA members have taken it upon to sponsor the education of at least a girl whose parents cannot afford to cater for their studies.
She said HiLWA in partnership with UNICEF has launched a Campaign tagged “Buy a Pad Initiative” aimed at establishing and equipping menstrual banks in schools with Sanitary kits for girls who are observing their menstrual cycle to have adequate hygiene and comfort to concentrate on their studies.
“In total , we have fifty schools in the six GEP 3 local governments. So in these schools, we are going to have a corner, the schools we have met with the principals and the G and C that Guidance and Counseling and some mentors for a state level sensitisation on the establishment of a minimum standard of the pad banks, and we are still going to conduct advocacy to major stakeholders, key stakeholders in the state so that at least we would have their backing”.
“So the pad banks will be established, we will have corners and the initial supply will be made by UNICEF. So we need all stakeholders to put hands on deck to be able to sustain it, because one of the major causes of truancy among girls now is particularly in the JSS is the issue of menstruation”, she disclosed.
Halima Dimis further disclosed that the organisation is also working on an initiative tagged “Second Chance Education” whereby its members counsel girls who dropout to return to school and as well serve as Mentors and role models to the girls.
She noted that the initiative had helped tremendously in the enrollment of the over two hundred thousand girls from 2012 to date under the UNICEF GEP 3 project in the state.
“UNICEF in conjunction with an organisation organised a training on menstrual hygiene management whereby we have nine girls from Bauchi, from the six participating local governments including myself we went to Abuja for an intensive training. So upon return, we stepped the knowledge to 300 girls, fifty girls from each local government from the focus schools, i.e junior secondary schools, ten people stepping down to 300 girls and 300 girls stepping down to only God knows how many”, Dimis explains.
The likes of Hauwa and Gloria who never had the opportunity of schooling or dropped out for several reasons and in need of such rescue initiative are scattered all over the state.