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Dire poverty prevents children from returning to Maiduguri schools for the start of the second term

11 January 2023
Reading time: 3 minutes

Desperate poverty was one of the main reasons many Maiduguri children did not return to school for the second term, which began on Monday, January 9.

Many parents simply could not afford to pay school fees or buy uniforms and learning materials, so they were forced to keep their children at home.

Fatima Ahmad, a mother, told RNI reporter Zainab Alhaji Ali that she had kept her four children from school because some of their uniforms were torn, they did not have shoes and she could not afford the fees.

“It was a sad day for me and my children but we simply do not have enough money for the fees and all the other items they need for school. I feel guilty. I feel as if I am failing them but there is not anything I can do to solve the problem at the moment.”

Falmata Umar said: “I was lucky enough to be able to send my children to school on Monday. The first week of the term is important because they do revision on what they learnt in the first term.

“When the holidays between the terms started, I began buying items they would need for this term. I bought them their textbooks, workbooks and new uniforms. So, by the time Monday came, they had all the items they needed for this term.”

But Aishatu Abdullahi was not so fortunate. “Our life is difficult. We are poor. When I get money, I will pay the school fees and buy them socks and uniforms. Then they will be able to start school again.”

Abdulrahman Mustapha, the director of the Irshad Islamic Institute, told RNI that the start of this term had differed from the past.

“On the first day there was a turnout of about 60%, but yesterday there was only about 40% of the pupils present.”

He gave three reasons for the low turnout.

First, he said, some parents had neglected to check when the holidays ended and did not realise their children should have returned to school on Monday. “If you know when the new term starts, you will prepare for it and make sure your children attend.”

Second, some of the teachers had not returned to their classrooms.

Third, some of the pupils had not returned because their teachers were no longer working and there was no one to teach them and many of their friends had also not returned to the school.

He called on parents to find out what their children needed at school and urged teachers to do their work even if there were only three pupils in the class. Mustapha said that would encourage more pupils to return to school and increase the turnout.

Maryam Musty, the headmistress of Mafoni Primary School in Maiduguri, said: “The turnout of pupils from nursery to primary six was about 40%, but the turnout of teachers was also very low. Some of them are ill and others are still travelling. We expect more teachers to be at the school next week.”

Musty told RNI that one of the problems many of the pupils faced was that they had only one workbook which they used for three or four subjects. She called on parents to try to buy more workbooks so the pupils would have one for each subject.



About the author

zainab alhadji ali