In a rare investigative journalism, looking at the huddles of education in the Northern Region, particularly, in Katsina State, where bandits have nearly taken over most villages and towns, thereby throwing education, economy and social lives into disarray. MUHAMMAD KABIR, using the cover of United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), visited Kankara Local Government Area, where hundreds of pupils of Government Science Secondary School were abducted sometimes in 2020.
Her story is that of resilience and courage buoyed by kind hearted individuals and the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF). That is how Fatima Muhammad, a Junior Secondary School pupil of Government Community Day Secondary School, Kankara, State Katsina was able to make it through primary school and remain in the junior school.
In a community ravaged by armed banditry and kidnapping, Fatima became an orphan during one of such unfortunate incidents. His father and mother being killed during one of such incidents has become the norm rather than the exception.
Fatima’s story came to the fore recently during a visit to Kankara under the auspices of UNICEF to see how the girls were doing in the face of the hostilities towards the girl child education, where formal education has come under threat due to the activities of the bandits.
After wading through the dangers posed by banditry and going through Kafur, Danmusa and Dutsin Ma Local Government Areas, the party finally arrived at Kankara. It was obvious that the nefarious activities of the bandits have taken its toll over social and economic activities of the people. One could see scars of the burnt houses and schools. Most villages have been deserted as the residents have either fled to Internally Displaced People Camps in Kankara or the state Capital – Katsina, Thanks to the Nigeria security agencies who have driven the Sons of the Devil back, as the people are beginning to go back to their lives.
The UNICEF and the Local Education Authority sponsored tour was meant to access how the people have defied the threats of the bandits to stop western education.
Among them pathetically, was Fatima Muhammad a 14 year old who lost her father when she was 10 years. However, this coupled with poverty was not enough to stop her. Thanks to the UNICEF educational programe which enabled her and others to go back to school.
She is among so many others who were rescued and evacuated from grips of the bandits when they attacked and sacked villages around Kankara and relocated to the main Kankara Local Government area.
Fatima who is now in JSS 2, Community Day Secondary School Kankara, was said to have enrolled herself into Primary School after she lost her parents. Thanks to the stipend called Girl for Girl Support Educational Funds she receives from UNICEF. She continues to receive the support even now that she is in junior secondary school.
However, the Huddles of Orphanage still runs in Fatima Muhammad, who now depends largely on an Association called Mothers to Mothers to enjoy somewhat Parental care and allowed her feel as if everybody is now around for her psychological instinct to remain intact so that her education could not be distracted.
When asked how she is coping with going to school and what engages her time after school, Fatima a soft spoken Orphan replied, ” I have some money that being given to me by these mother’s for my up keep and when I return from school I’m always amongst other children that have lost their parents and who were brought into Kankara from their villages, so by that we are all alright we don’t have much problems, because most of us our Mothers are also around we only lost our Father’s.
Alhaji Ahmadu Bello is the District Head of Kankara town who plays a key role of not only a traditional leader, but also that of a father to the children who were relocated to his domain from the surrounding villages sacked by Bandits.
He believes that support given to them and the various initiatives created by both the local education authority, Katsina State Government and the Donor Agencies, more specifically UNICEF, have tremendously contributed in helping greatly the continued educational programs of his area despite the activities of the Bandits.
Ahmadu Bello suggested that more interventions needed now hence his subjects have the confidence of defying the gravity of criminalities leading to killings and maiming of lives, that supports have allowed many children to be enrolled into schools and make education progress in the area.
Another traditional leader and District Head, Ketare, Wakilin Kanwa, Alhaji Abubakar Idris, also shared the sad tales of his subjects.
He said most of his people were relocated to the main Kankara town, while hundreds of their children were re-enrolled into various schools using the Local Government Education Authority and some Donor Agencies’ support.
Idiris said Government must do all it could to ensure that banditry, kidnappings and other criminal activities are put to stop, if lives means to progress and poverty and social wellbeing are to prosper in Katsina State and the entire Nigeria.
Alhaji Kabiru Ali is the Executive Secretary Local Education Authority, Kankara, he said despite huddles of banditry in his area, Katsina State and Federal Governments have done marvelously well in supporting educational development in the area which was ravaged by banditry activities.
He said because of the support they enjoyed from both Governments and UNICEF, they have 22 teachers who were trained on Female Teachers Supports Strategy, while 70 out of 119 benefit from various interventions.
However, the Executive Secretary lamented that about 19 Schools were relocated from various sacked Villages to main Kankara town, while their pupils were re-enrolled into various Schools.
He said: “We are today facing serious problems of lack of Classes, more schools needed, with teachers, while the greatest challenges of insecurities still live with us. Government must step up its efforts in making our areas somewhat peaceful, so that things would go back to normal.”
The trip to Kankara was an eye opener to the reality of insecurities in the Northern Region and Katsina in particular. Many towns like Yantumaki, Sheme were deserted with rubbles of empty houses left to wallow.
Government must continue its collaborative efforts with true partners in tackling the menace of insecurities and allow children’s education to continue if a better tomorrow is what the nation aims to achieve.