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How Masari reduced stress of students with N2.1b

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BY ANDY ASEMOTA, Katsina

Until the coming of School Improvement Grant (SIG) to their rescue, life was miserable to teeming adolescent girls in many junior and senior secondary schools in Katsina State.

A tall, dark – skinned girl wearing a green hijab, Fatima Bello, just like any other girl of her age had tall dreams of becoming a doctor or nurse.

She told me in an interview that at 12, she experienced her first menstral flow just after she was offered admission into junior secondary school.

At 13, she was already experiencing monthly menstral cycle steadily and she was quite uncomfortable in classroom as there were no toilets where she could change her sanitary pads. By the time she was 14 and about to transit to senior secondary school, she  could not bear life  in the school any longer.

Fatima is one of many adolescent girls who have dropped out of school across the state because of unfriendly learning environment, especially for the girl child.

Visits to some schools revealed that pupils and students who were pressed have no access to toilets or water points and those lucky to have bushes around their schools were often held back by the shame of possible hundreds of eyes trailing them or the fear of some dangerous reptiles.

While gloom is written on the faces of many of the girls that persevere and summoned courage to complete their junior or secondary school education, the situation was unbearable for many who felt the aches and pains more than others.

The state government prides itself as highly determined to provide opportunity for its teeming young population to go to school and stay until completion. It is in line with this commitment that the government moved in recently to provide succour for its students that been feeling abandoned to their fate.

The government in partnership with local, state, national and international development partners to renovate school toilets, provide water points and repair classrooms launched on 30th June, 2022, the disbursement of school Improvement Grant to all 578 junior an senior secondary schools in the state under the auspices of Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) project to retain the girls in schools.

It kicked off with disbursement of 5,092,00 dollars, an equivalent of N2,113,180,000. Governor Aminu Bello Masari of the state explained that part of the plan for the AGILE project aimed at strengthening community support and ownership of schools through School Based Management Committees (SBMCs).

At Government Day Secondary School, Kofar Yandaka, where the disbursement of the SIG to all the schools was flagged off, the state commissioner for education, Dr. Badamasi Lawal, said in all the journey of AGILE project, the state had been at the forefront in meeting conditions, guidelines and other requirements courtesy of the immense support of Governor Masari.

Lawal stated that the grant had been disbursed to 50% of schools to start the execution of projects limited to renovation of toilets, provision of water points and repair of classrooms .

“The SIG was disbursed using enrolment of students as major indicator. In this regards, some schools received the sum of 8,00 dollars (equivalent to N3,320,000); 12,000 dollars (equivalent to N4,980,000) and 16,000 dollars (equivalent to N6,640,000).

“The schools through SBMCs have been trained on their roles, responsibilities on how to develop School Improvement Plan. The funds shall be utilized using the School Improvement Plan as a guide,” he said.

The commissioner, who assured Masari and Katsina people of the education ministry’s commitment to ensure prompt monitoring of the schools in order to ensure judicious use of the funds for the benefit of the students and communities, disclosed that the funds would be disbursed in two tranches to schools after attaining significant progress level and certification by technical monitors.

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