Members of SBMC in Sabon Gari LEA school, KDNLGEA at the newly renovated block of eight toilets
“Now I know my roles and responsibilities and how to make SBMCs functional by mobilizing their community members” declares 39 year old Haruna Ibrahim, a Desk Officer in Kaduna North Local Government Education Authority (KDNLGEA). Following training by DFID’s Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN), school communities in KDNLGEA now participate actively in school maintenance and development through their local School Based Management Committees (SBMC).
SBMCs are not new in Nigeria. They were established in 2006 to provide the community a voice in the management and monitoring of schools, but little training or sensitization was offered to LGEA Desk Officers appointed to support them. The recent development of SBMCs was given impetus in 2009 by the formation of a State Task Team (STT) for SBMCs, consisting of senior officers in the Ministry, the Social Mobilization Unit of the State Universal Basic Education Board, and Local Government Education Authorities.
ESSPIN’s training of the STT was then rolled-out to over 1,300 SBMC members in 40 clusters within the seven LGEAs which ESSPIN is supporting. The training covered the roles and responsibilities of the SBMCs, the importance of community participation in education, together with some technical and advocacy skills. A Kaduna-specific SBMC Policy & Operational Guidelines has been produced and SUBEB is currently translating over 4,000 copies into Hausa (the local language) for State-wide dissemination. ESSPIN’s interventions have helped SBMCs to become more active and effective.
One example of how this development work is reaping benefits is a school in the Sabon Gari area of Kaduna North, which has constructed a block of four classrooms with eight toilets. Another example is in Kachia LGEA, where four schools in the Kwaturu District have repaired or made over 200 desks and chairs and a first aid box. These activities have contributed to an increase in pupil enrolment in some local schools of up to 200 out of school children.
And there’s more to come. Haruna says “My Education Secretary and I are planning to replicate the kind of trainings we got from ESSPIN, to other districts and schools. We want to make sure that all 40 schools in our LGEA have functional SBMCs by the end of November 2010.”
The efforts being made by communities are encouraging the generosity of individuals – for example, in one LGEA primary school, in Fada Kagoro District in Kaura LGEA, a member of the community has opened a special bank account and deposited Naira 400,000 (£1,600) to help his school.
Ministry staff also benefited from SBMC developments. Reflecting on how he worked before, Haruna comments: “I am happy with ESSPIN training. I used to sit in my office because I didn’t know what to do.”
Through ESSPIN, DFID is working with other donors and agencies, such as the World Bank and UNICEF, to bring about sustainable improvements in education, with the Millennium Development Goals as a key target. ESSPIN sees SBMCs as a vehicle to encourage higher enrolment, especially of girls. At a time when many governments are struggling to provide quality education, recognizing the role communities can play is a positive step. SBMCs cannot solve all problems, but working hand-in-hand with government they can help achieve measurable improvements while at the same time holding the government to account for its promised inputs.
ESSPIN supports simultaneous action on multiple fronts. Support for communities is accompanied by support for schools, support for State and Local government and support to develop Federal laws, policies and budgets. ESSPIN is a partnership between the Nigerian Government and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID). The six-year programme (2008 – 2014) supports Federal and State governments – Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara and Lagos initially with Enugu added in 2010 – to develop effective planning, financing and delivery systems that will improve the quality of basic education for Nigeria’s 32 million primary school children, a quarter of who do not go to school.