The need for community participation in school affairs is one of the cardinal points in ESSPIN’s intervention strategy at grassroots level. The community at Ban Baza in Kazaure LGA, Jigawa state have demonstrated this partnership in organising a Community Based Women Association focused on the only community school established in the village. MairoUbale is the women’s leader and through ESSPIN’s advocacy work realised how important it is to organise other women to improve school attendance in community schools. “Fetching water, sweeping and domestic chores are our daily routine. But this should not be limited to our homes. Our children often come back from school thirsty and tired from exhaustion. What do we do but to serve them with water daily?” she asks.
Water is a scare commodity in Ban Baza. People have to trek about three kilometres to get a bucketful. Often, children abandoned the morning lessons to help their mothers on a daily basis. Mairo therefore started a small committee of women who will serve the school. Today, the committee which started with only three women has grown to ten members. Now this group has expanded their support from fetching water to bush clearing, sweeping and weaving school mats. The school which began with an enrolment of 59 pupils (32 boys, 27 girls) has grown to 147 pupils (62 boys, 85 girls). School attendance has reached more than 82% from below 31% just three months ago.
Abdu Kale, the Chairman of the School-Based Management Committee is proud to say, “At first I felt it was men’s duty to do what Mairo and other women were doing, but I realised that this is a collective task. We have therefore mobilised our youth to increase the number of people supporting our school. Mairo has really taught us by example and we are thankful to ESSPIN for organising us into a responsible community conscious of our duty.”
The SUBEB Department of Social Mobilisation (SMD) is borrowing a leaf from this example and is collaborating with ESSPIN to share this experience with other communities. Mal BalarabeYusif, the Director SMD has this to say: “If all women’s groups acted like Mairo and her friends, the issue of school enrolment campaigns would have become easier. I believe ESSPIN’s strategy in SBMC development is something we must strive to sustain because of the apparent results we are achieving.”