With USAID Support Community Coalition Builds Shelter for 200 Tsangaya Pupils

December 3, 2010


Over 200 pupils at Tsangaya Mallam Sallau now have a roof over their heads. Community members, led by the local Federation of Muslim Women Associations of Nigeria (FOMWAN), constructed a learning shed for this informal learning center in Dass, located in Nigeria’s Bauchi State.

FOMWAN is a local partner of the Northern Education Initiative (NEI) funded by USAID-funded and implemented by Creative Associates. NEI works with FOMWAN to form community coalitions in Bauchi and Sokoto states. To date, NEI has established 20 coalitions. Community Action Cycle training builds programs that provide access to education tailored to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children and for children in the broader community. NEI’s support for the Tsangaya center grew out of the USAID-funded project’s advocacy visits to the area raising awareness of the needs of vulnerable children.

The number of orphans and vulnerable children, especially girls, remains high in the two northern states. Many are street children. Known as Almajarai, these children are sent by their families to attend Qur’anic schools, where they learn to recite the Qur’an without access to broader basic education. The children often come from very poor families who live a far away. The children often board at the school and are forced to beg for their food incurring stigmatization by the local communities.

Now things are really changing at the Tsangaya learning center. Previously, pupils aged 4 to 18 gathered in the open air, using tree stumps for chairs and desks. The children jostled to find a small space to sleep cheek by jowl in one of four small rooms. With some 600 pupils at the center, many sleep outside under the stars.

“When it rains, learning stops,” says Mallam Sallau Mai Azara, school proprietor. “It is not possible to teach modern education when they cannot sit.” He said his school of 600 pupils dwindles to 200 during the rainy season.

Moved by the plight of the children, the local government wing of FOMWAN canvassed the community for donations and raised N95,000.00, or $623 U.S. dollars. This money built a sturdy shelter constructed of corrugated steel. The shelter now affords the children protection from rain and sun during school and provides sleeping accommodation at night.

Mallam Tasiu Sallau, a member of the Tsangaya center’s orphan and vulnerable children support team enthusiastically noted. “I teach in this center. This is a great achievement for us. Now, nothing will interrupt our learning, rain or sun.” The children now take turns in classes of 40 pupils in the shed.

The community’s contribution to the school has since attracted further assistance. “This gesture by the community coalition and FOMWAN is great and highly commendable,” said Aliyu Idris Gital, representing the education secretary of the Dass Local Government Area, while visiting the new school. He announced that the council will provide reading boards, chalk and a teacher. It will also provide mats for the children to sleep on in their new school building. Even more noteworthy, community member, Mallam Garba Madu, a retired teacher and school principal, has volunteered to teach core subjects at Tsangaya.

Learning center proprietor Mallam Sallau expressed his appreciation and that of his pupils. “Before now, our children used to sleep in the rain, this will greatly help us. We are grateful.”

—Jossey Ogbuanoh, Reporting & Communication Officer, Nigeria Northern Education Initiative

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