The Challenge Fund Scheme is providing head teachers and teachers in 30 mission schools with in-service training to be more effective.
“The ESSPIN programme has really been impressive, if ESSPIN’s model is replicated around the state, it will go a long way to improve the standard of education in Enugu state” says Matthew Oleka, Head Teacher, St. Paul’s Nursery and Primary School Awkumanaw.
St. Paul’s is one of the low fee-paying mission schools participating in the ESSPIN Challenge Fund (CF) scheme and benefiting from its School Improvement Programme (SIP). Working in partnership with Christian missions and a group of non-government organisations, ESSPIN is giving impoverished children school supplies to enable them to attend class in selected mission schools. Teaching aids, and teacher and head-teacher in-service training are provided to the partner mission schools. In return, the partnering missions waive the tuition fees for those children selected by the NGOs from the poorest families to benefit from the scheme.
When the ESSPIN CF scheme began in July, 2011, the school community was not very enthusiastic, noted Matthew - “There was this lackadaisical attitude shown towards the CF initiative and this made registration of the potential beneficiaries difficult at first. Eventually, 37 pupils were registered under the scheme in St. Paul’s”. Now the CF scheme is recognised as a programme of great value and St. Paul’s and other schools benefiting from the CF scheme are preferred over other schools. “People are quick to make recommendations for parents to enrol their children in St. Paul’s.” Matthew added.
Enrolment in St. Paul’s has increased tremendously from 312 to 545 pupils within a year. “We have seen this amazing increase in enrolment since the challenge fund started in our school due to the success stories spreading around the Challenge Fund in our school” says Mathew. This has put pressure on the school’s infrastructure to cope with the influx. But the community is stepping in to help.
“We now have a very active SBMC in our school. The SBMC is making serious plans to provide three classrooms to absorb the increased population. The SBMC provided 120 nursery chairs and 40 tables and plans to renovate the floors of the nursery section. The SBMC contributes to the N111,000 direct funding to school we receive monthly. Once they raised an extra N124,000.00 to put electrical fittings in the school and make the environment more conducive for learning. All thanks to the Challenge Fund Scheme.”