Fulani culture endures as community embraces education for all
Gaa Uthman SBMC members, Ilorin East, Kwara State meet for a sensitization session on the advantages of literacy and numeracy.
“I feel happy to be waking up in the morning to go to school….I do not want to be married-off like others, and my friends will no more make jest of me…” said Wasilat Ibrahim with a smile. Wasilat, a 13 year-old girl in Gaa Uthman Nomadic LGEA School in Ilorin East, is benefiting from the basic education programme supported by ESSPIN. After facing a near-marriage experience, Wasilat now has high hopes for the future. “I want to become a doctor,” she says.
Young members of the Gaa Uthman Fulani community are now encouraged to go to school. These include children already betrothed, boys who married early, and girls who were married without their consent who are now being sent to school by their husbands. This is the result of two years of continuous sensitisation activities in the community led by CSOs and the SBMC and supported by ESSPIN. The school has grown from 12 to 56 students.
According to Ajia Afusat, the head teacher, “I used to see many children grazing cows or selling cheese at the time they were supposed to be in school.” But now the situation has changed. “I can write my name now, and I hope to make more progress….We have greatly improved too in morals and social life”, reports Wasilat.
“Before I joined school”, explained Usman Aliyu, aged 12 in Primary 3, “I could neither read nor write, but now I can even help others to read.”
“I am now able to help my customers load scratch cards into their mobile phones”, said Primary 2 student Umar Adamu, aged 20 and married for 5 years with two children.
The Gaa Uthman nomadic community is encouraging schooling for all children and young adults whilst respecting traditional beliefs. The SBMC arranged for a female Hausa-speaking head teacher. “The men to whom the young girls are betrothed would not allow their young future wives to attend a school to be taught by a male teacher. They also want a Hausa speaker who understands them”, Adeyemo Adeyemi a CSO member explained.
Asked what message she has for her friends who are not yet in school, Wasilat continued, “I advise them to come to school. There is future and hope in it. I advise our parents too that they should not see education as a way of losing us. Instead, they should see it as a stepping stone to success and a way forward. We have lagged behind for too long.”