Mrs. Rebecca Ozor sitting in one of the classes where renovate benches are kept
“The challenges of schools here are very different and sometimes they look as if they are insurmountable. But the efforts of the SBMC and those of community members have been remarkable. They are the ones who make us smile even through the difficult times especially the Igwe (traditional head) himself.” Mrs. Rebecca Ozor, Head Teacher of Isi kwe Achi LGEA primary school in Oji River local government
Joint School, Isi Ikwe, Achi in Orji River LGEA has an unfavourable terrain. Prior to ESSPIN’s intervention, erosion threatened the football field all the time often preventing the pupils from playing. This challenge and many others affected the school’s enrolment rate; the population kept falling.
Mrs. Rebecca Ozor and her School-Based Management Committee (SBMC) embarked on a community mobilization drive based on training they received from ESSPIN partner civil society organisations (CSOs). This drive was fully supported by the Igwe, the traditional head of the community. He has come to be known as an adopter of schools that are in distress, always challenging the philanthropists in the communities to help out with the schools. The SBMC of Isi Kwe themselves are trail blazers, never resting on their oars; fixing chairs and filling up eroded gullies on the school compound including the school field.
ESSPIN supports partner CSOs to mentor and monitor SBMC members who are willing to take ownership of their schools. The result is that more SBMCs demand more from their schools and also advocate for best practices. The government has the primary responsibility for providing funds to public schools, but communities assist in ways such as participating in enrolment drives and fixing problems that need immediate and quick solutions.
“The way and manner in which the community helped us solve the erosion problem made us feel like super heroes”, the head teacher enthused as she displays chairs that were fixed for them by another member of the SBMC. She continues: “Our playing field is still intact after it was reclaimed from gully erosion. Individuals have come forward to give us pipe borne water and a school band set. The list goes on and on. And it might interest you to know that our band set is helping pupils to come to school early because they do not want to miss playing the drums.”
SBMCs are now undergoing a transformation through ESSPIN’s support. They are becoming institutionalized through a partnership between civil society organizations and government. More stories will begin to emanate from the communities as members become emboldened to take on the challenges that are related to accessing quality basic education. Rebecca’s school has increased from a population of 185 to 300 as a result of her work and the community’s efforts.
“Our Igwe has shown himself a community champion and hopefully many more will continue to show up when we call for assistance”.