International Day of Education: As UNICEF Examines Efficacy of TaRL Model on Pupils in Public Schools
By Zainab Yetunde Adam
To mark the 2023 edition of the International Day of Education, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in Borno state has, on Monday, Jan.23, joined pupils in public schools to celebrate how the Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) model has enhanced their learning.
The Humanitarian Times has recently visited some of these schools and observed how a deprived community struggles to provide basic learning opportunities for their wards. One of such schools was located at Shuwari One in Bolori ward Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC).
TaRL is a model that adapts English and two local languages – Hausa and Kanuri – to teach the pupils of Primary Four, Five and Six.
Yerwa Central Primary School and Lamisula Primary School are among the 51 public schools with classrooms where TaRL has been adopted.
UNICEF Education Specialist Yusuf Ismail said that TaRL was introduced in 20l8 to close the learning gap caused by Insurgency in the state.
“A teacher is supposed to have 1-35 pupils in a class, but most times it is 1-150 pupils in a class, which is not favorable hence the need for TaRL to enable the pupils to have basic foundational literacy and numeracy.”
The TaRL class is segmented into beginners and paragraph/stories groups for six months with equal access for every pupil supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) under the Partnership for Learning for All in Nigerian Education (PLANE).
Head Teacher of Yerwa Central Primary School, Umar Mallam Babagana, appealed for an extension of the program to Primary 1, 2 and 3 to give other pupils better knowledge of what they are being taught in class at an early stage.
“The programme has proven to be impactful. Before, most students could not read, write or construct a paragraph independently, but now they can do it and even simplify simple arithmetics.”
While some schools in Borno enjoy better learning facilities, many others still crave for the basics that are local to them.
Eleven years old Hassan Zannah, in Primary five, was seen paying keen attention to what he is being taught in the classroom at Shuwari One, Bolori ward.
He was able to give rapt attention to his instructors despite being in an overcrowded classroom.
Hassan wanted to be a teacher and wished his school was well equipped to accommodate every child in his community.
“We enjoy the teaching approaches adopted in this school but face some challenges. I want the government and relevant stakeholders to make our school conducive, construct more classes, construct a water point and toilets so that we will not be practicing open defecation on the school premises.”
The pupil’s appeal was re-echoed by the Director of the school, Adamu Aliyu Adamu.
According to Mr. Adamu, the community school was borne out of an Islamiya initiative that started tutoring children to have both Islamic and western knowledge in 2019.
Adamu said due to a lack of support; he nearly ended the initiative. Still, parents and community members solicited he continue training their wards to give them a good background before transferring them to private or good public schools outside the community.
“The unfenced school, which only has three classes, was built by the National Assembly member representing Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, Honourable AbdulKadiri Rahis, in 2019 as part of his constituency project,”
“We combined two classes in one classroom. Primary 2 and 5 are in the same class, Nursery 1 and 2, and Nursery 3 and Primary 1 in the same class, but we teach them differently due to lack of facilities.” He said.
Mr. Adamu said six teachers run the school with N10,000 as salary gathered through stipends the pupils pay in addition to his pocket money to settle the staff every month.”
Another teacher at the school, Fatima Abubakar, observed that children in the area need to acquire knowledge because most of them are out of school. Still, the facility in her school is insufficient.
The year 2022 data obtained from UNICEF, Shows that 64 million children of primary school age remain out of school, with the majority of them coming from marginalized groups.
“Some of the pupils hardly afford the mandated N500 exams fee and N500 tuition fee for us to maintain the school talk more of buying instructional and writing materials,” Mrs. Abubakar added.
As an integrated instructor for English, Mathematics, Integrated Science, Qur’an, Hisnul Muslim, and Hadith, she said the pupils would urinate or defecate on their bodies when pressed because there are no toilet facilities in the school.
Open defecation pollutes the environment and causes health problems and diseases, particularly among children. These health problem problems, child stunting, malnutrition, and diarrhea as faeces on the ground contribute to contaminated drinking water and water resources.
Nearly 1.9 million children die annually from diarrheal disease, accounting for 19% of all deaths in children younger than five.
THT gathered that for the past three years, the school had been called Al-Ansar but t, but the name will be changed at the point of registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission soon.
However, the population of Shuwari One to Three (Bulabulin settlement), according to one of the ward heads, Bulama Hassan, is about 48,00e. He pointed out that one school in that area can not be enough.