By Victor Osae IHIDERO, Zamfara
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has commenced the disbursement of about N53 million grants to 209 Schools Based Management Committees (SBMCs) in 9 Local Government Areas (LGAs), in Zamfara State for the improvement and capacity building of teachers and schools governance, as part of measure to increase enrolment, retention and learning outcomes in schools.
In his address, at the disbursement ceremony chaired by Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul-Aziz Yari Abubakar, the state Commissioner of Education, Mukhtar Ahmad, confirmed the receipt of the money to the governor.
He informed the Governor that UNICEF has been in partnership with Zamfara State Government in relation to basic education programme, describing the event as a milestone in the history of the partnership where school grants of N250, 000 will be disbursed to each of the 209 SBMCs.
“UNICEF has already transferred the funds into SBMCs bank accounts. In view of this very good gesture, i deemed it necessary to request the Executive Governor to officially flag-off the disbursement as a signal for the SBMCs to commence the utilization of the grants based on their developed school development plans.” He added.
The project was developed under the Girls’ Education Project phase 3 (GEP3), of which Zamfara State is one of the five benefitting States in Northern Nigeria.
The GEP 3 which is funded by UKAid/DfID and managed by UNICEF, was designed to be implemented over eight years’ period which started in 2012 and and will end by 2020.
The project is contributing to the enrolment of one (1) million additional girls into school, improved retention and learning outcomes for girls, and an estimated 1.9 million boys will also benefit from GEP3’s investments through improvements to teacher quality and school governance.
Responding, the Governor said the State government is ready to partner on initiative that concerns working with communities to take ownership of their schools. He acknowledged that with this programme supported by UNICEF/UKAiD, this principle is being promoted.
He affirmed that communities must have sense of belonging for taking ownership of schools, considering the lean resources available with government. He appreciated the support of UNICEF and UKAid in this regard.
Yari, assured that State government is ready to provide quality education and called on communities to support, reiterating the commitment of State government to recruit 1000 qualified teachers this year.
On the release of the State government contribution of N150m, the Governor instantly asked the Honourable Commissioner of Education about the file. With this, the Chief of UNICEF Sokoto Field Office advised the Commissioner to make urgent follow-up.
In his remarks, Chief of UNICEF Sokoto Field Office informed Zamfara State Governor that UNICEF and UKAiD/DfID are making the highest investment in Zamfara amounting to N2 billion.
He mentioned the extension of basic education intervention to 3 LGAs under the Education A Child (EAC) Project funded by Qater Foundation and UNICEF, addressing OOSC, as addition to the existing 6 GEP3 LGAs funded by UKAid/DfID and managed by UNICEF.
He also mentioned other interventions like the Cash Transfer, Hard to Reach (HTR) and CMAM for health and nutrition programmes which Zamfara State is benefitting.
On SBMCs, he disclosed that all were trained on their roles and responsibilities, development of school plans and fund management. In addition, as funded by UKAiD/DfID, UNICEF has transferred approximately N53m to 209 SBMCs’ bank accounts in 6 GEP3 LGAs.
The Chief, advocated to the Governor on the need to release N150m as State government contribution for UNICEF assisted Basic Education programme as part of the approved 2017 State budget.