Cross-section of participants at the LGEA SBMC forum held in Udi LGA, Enugu State
“Every day I go to school with clean uniform because I now have two uniforms. Our teachers are very happy, no more complaining about us wearing dirty and torn uniforms,” says Ngozi Ogochuku, a pupil of Central Primary School, Abor.
Ngozi and other pupils of the school were recently provided free school uniforms by Mrs. Francisca Mgbodile, a philanthropic community member. Her gesture was in fulfilment of her commitment to ‘adopt’ the school following advocacy by members of Udi LGA Steering Committee on SBMCs.
The harvest of community resources mobilised for public primary schools in Udi LGA, through ESSPIN-supported SBMCs and the noticeable impact on quality improvement is demonstrating that communities can indeed take effective ownership of education reform initiatives.
An SBMC forum organised by the LGA to map out strategies for consolidating on the gains of the SBMC reform initiative and to galvanize more community support to public schools in October 2012 attracted over 350 participants.
The participants comprised local government officials, Head teachers, traditional rulers and community representatives.
Speakers at the forum narrated community contributions to school improvement and confirmed the difference functional SBMCs are making. The climax was the election and inauguration of a nine-member SBMCs Steering Committee headed by Nze Vincent Onyia of Ibuzo-Amokwe. He was mandated to coordinate efforts at ensuring consolidation, scale-up and sustenance of the gains of SBMCs in Udi LGA.
The Queen of Abor community, a retired teacher and member of the Steering Committee, Lolo Felicia Ukwu, had this to say: “I still have fond memories of my primary school days but that cannot be said of our schools today. I am calling on everyone in the community to join hands with SBMCs to make sure that public schools regain their glory for our children to also enjoy schooling as we did.”
Similar support to schools by community members included provision of instructional materials, books, furniture and classrooms blocks are replicated across the LGA through the “Adoption” initiative. Primary schools in Udi LGA are gradually becoming more conducive for learning, better resourced and supervised. Enrolments are increasing, more and better teaching is taking place and pupils’ learning is reportedly improving.
ESSPIN’s approach to school improvement integrates community involvement through SBMCs. It recognises that communities have a key role and if properly organised and guided, can sustainably make crucial contributions to improve teaching quality and pupils’ learning outcomes. ESSPIN is supporting the establishment of functional SBMCs in all 91 public primary schools in Udi LGA and 30 Christian Mission schools spread across 5 LGAs participating in its Challenge Fund Scheme as a model for roll-out in all schools in Enugu State.