Plan International Hands Over 800 Desks to 20 public schools in Borno, Yobe
By Abdulkareem Haruna
An estimated 2,400 students spread across 20 public schools in Borno and Yobe states will henceforth enjoy decent seating while taking lessons in their classrooms following the donation of desks to their schools by Plan International.
This gesture which comes in handy, was geared towards addressing the gaps in critical education infrastructure in the two states.
Officials of Plan International, an INGO working in Borno state had on Thursday, presented the sets of desks to officials of the Borno state government at a brief, but a well-attended handover ceremony was held in one of the benefitting schools, Shehu Garbai Secondary school, Maiduguri.
The INGO’s Deputy Emergency Response Manager, Avindigh Titus, said the intervention was carried out in 13 schools in Borno state, where water boreholes were equally drilled and handed over to the management.
Plan International’s project manager, Hanoch Hebron, explained to The Humanitarian Times that the organization has also conducted similar interventions in seven other schools in Yobe state.
“We provided 40 units of 3-seater desks to 13 schools in Borno and seven schools in Yobe, which brings the total to 20 schools,” Mr. Hebron said.
He explained that the seats are designed with attached seats with backrests.
Taking delivery of the seats that were already allocated to each of the classes at Shehu Garbai Secondary School, the executive secretary of the Borno State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Professor Bulama Kagu, commended Plan International for providing “such desks made from qualitative wood and metal, even as he emphasized the issue of maintenance.
Other WASH Interventions
Plan International has also carried out wash-related projects in each of the said benefitting schools.
“We constructed boreholes and gender-segregated latrines; we also renovated classrooms and carried out many other school interventions,” Mr Hebron added.
“For the latrines, we call it gender segregated because it is not just gender segregated but disability inclusive; it is what both boys and girls can use,” the project manager said.
“One of each four of the latrines for both sex is designed to be disability-friendly so that persons with disability to could be able to easily relieve themselves when pressed.
At the beginning of the project three years ago, Plan International said it carried out need assessments in each of these schools.
“Part of our assessment findings was that when girls are menstruating, they find it uncomfortable to even change their menstrual pads in the school due to the lack of safe space.
“So, most of the time during those periods, they (the girls) don’t come to school. So the provision of segregated latrines has supported that aspect and addressed the situation.
He said the segregated latrines have also improved the rate of enrolment in the school, based on the recent assessment that we conducted.
“It has also improved the rate of girls remaining in school at all times and sustained their completion of school programs from one class to the other.
Need to Address Teachers’ Gap
On the need to bridge the existing gaps in personnel requirements in public schools, Mr. Hebron said. However, the project is in its fourth and final year. It has, at the start of the project, been able to recruit volunteer teachers to support teaching in schools to cover the identified gaps.
“It’s a very wide gap that affects the classroom quality of learning. So the recruited volunteer teachers came in to support the formal teachers. In each of our intervention schools, we had three volunteer teachers.”
“Unfortunately, like it’s been the case for all projects, that component has ended. But we are still advocating for recruiting more teachers to support learning in the schools.
The Special Adviser on Education in Borno state, Tijani Lawan, who represented the Borno State Commissioner of Education, commended Plan International for its various support even as he called on the organization to look at other areas of need away from the provision of physical infrastructure.
He said Plan International should also factor in the issue of teachers training to complement the gestures made in infrastructure development.
“Now we have eight functional toilets, which are enough for the schools,” he said.
Shettima Ali, the Education secretary of MMC, and Adam Zanna Karamma, the head of the Konduga education authority, both commended the NGO for investing in the future of Borno state. They both acknowledged that investment in education is a quality investment on the foundation of the future generation.
The host school’s principal, Shehu Garbai Secondary School, noted that the interventions of Plan International had improved the learning environment, especially the segregated latrines.