ASiya Ahmad, a mother of three, was elated and all smiles after receiving 24,000 Naira as a caregiver for her three children who are beneficiaries of UNICEF’s Cash Transfer Program (CTP) in her local government, Zurmi, State of Zamfara.
Asiya, who is from Dauran, said she received the same amount in six trenches and was happy with the scheme considering what she was able to do with the money.
“The first time I had only one child, which was 8,000 naira because registration for the other two was not complete. I used 6,000 naira to buy sewing materials and saved 2,000 naira,” she said.
She said she had a tailor who sewed the fabrics she sold for her. Then, she says, she started collecting for the three children, which she invested in raising goats which she sold after a while and then bought more.
Asiya, who does other small businesses, also produces and sells fans.
She said the program has helped to improve their lives and they now appreciate more the need to send their children to school, adding that they are grateful to UNICEF for this initiative.
Asiya isn’t the only horny woman; along with 6,434 other women including 10,347 children are CTP beneficiaries in the three LGAs of Bukkuyum, Maradun and Zurmi in 65 communities in Zamfara State.
Kebbi State has 15,423 caregivers and 31,044 beneficiaries in nine LGAs of Danko Wasagu, Maiyama, Suru, Bagudo, Koko Besse, Shanga, Argungu, Danci and Gwandu.
Cash Transfer Program (CTP)
The CTP is one of the components of the Nigerian Educate A Child Program (EAC) funded by the Qatar Foundation and implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which aims to bring back 501,500 Nigerian children ( of which 35% are girls) in school over a period of five years – 2016 to 2021.
Communities were selected from those with a high percentage of out-of-school children in the eligible age group of 6-11 years, as shown in the community mapping of out-of-school children households conducted in 2016 by UNICEF.
Identified caregivers (mothers or caregivers with direct responsibility for children) from the poorest households receive six tranches of N8,000 per selected eligible beneficiary child to help reduce the financial burden of their schooling.
Therefore, the cash transfer is made to cushion the impact of poverty by providing parents with the opportunity to support their children’s education.
Zamfara, testimonials from Kebbi caregivers
For Fatima Suleiman, whose three children are also beneficiaries, she has been able to provide for her children’s school needs with the money she has received so far and has also invested it in the small business of manufacturing cakes and peanut oil and also in raising goats, which she then sold and bought another set.
Gado Sarkin Aski, who is from Maikwari community in Suru LGA of Kebbi State, has two children as beneficiaries and she has only received four installments of the disbursement and missed others because she has left the community to take care of his sick mother.
She said she was able to meet her children’s school needs and started a business selling clothes including wraps, hijabs, shoes and others. She also buys animals like goats and chickens to raise and sell.
She said that with the proceeds from the business, she will support her children in school and ensure that they complete their education.
For Haji Abdullahi, whose two children are benefiting from the scheme, she said there is a big difference in their lives as the children progress through school and also into small businesses.
“Before, I could not provide learning materials for my children or send them to school, but I have been empowered. I take responsibility now and also buy two to three goats or rams every year for my small farm and I also sell cooking oil,” she said.
While noting that she provides the children with what they need and sends them to school and Islamiyya school later in the evening, she appreciated the effort of UNICEF and promised to ensure that her children to stay in school.
The men talk about the project
SBMC Chairman Aliyu Dalhatu Zurmi said he saw the benefits of the program and called for its extension as it helped them keep their wards in school.
“It has helped our women to provide necessary things like books and uniforms for their children to go to school, in addition to starting small businesses which they form and support their children,” he said. -he declares.
Zurmi said, “Before the program, if you went to our different communities, you might see around 30 or 40 children in a school, but with the cash transfer, you will see in some schools 100 and some near of 200. So we appreciate the program and our women are delighted with it.
While urging the government to join and expand the scheme, as part of community development efforts, he said the committee will ensure that parents keep their children in school as the only way to get more education. interventions.
The president, who noted that 10 of his grandchildren are beneficiaries, said he was grateful and praised the efforts of UNICEF.
Speaking, Makwari Village Chief Usman Magaji Makwari said the program had helped his people by empowering them to go to school, adding that there was now competition for the children come to school because of CTP.
He said that before the program, they had problems with parents whose children were not in school because their fathers took them to the farm. In most cases, they took them to court for refusing to allow their wards to go to school.
“But with the cash transfer program they invest the money and now the school attendance is 100% and from the beginning we haven’t taken any parents to court because they have the help of UNICEF,” said the village chief.
He added that apart from the money, “we feed the children in school every day and that makes school attendance great because the difficulty of feeding the children was the reason many were not in school before. , but with money transfer things are much easier.”
The village chief, however, called for more qualified teachers to be assigned to the school, saying, “We also want them to be alert and provide extracurricular activities like football, games that will make children more competitive and will keep them in the school.”
Distribution of officials
CTP program coordinator in Zamfara, Maryam Shantali, said that since the launch of the project in 2018, a total of 479,040,000 naira has been disbursed to caregivers and more than 85% of them have invested the money for good. wisely.
“CTP has led to increased enrolment, retention and completion of children in Zamfara State as well as economic empowerment of caregivers in both states.”
She said the state is close to meeting the goal of a 50/50 girl to boy ratio. In 2015, Zamfara had 61% of the total number of out-of-school children in the country (10.5 million), but with CTP it now has 51%, having achieved a reduction of 10%.
Zurmi LGA Education Secretary Abdullahi Iliyasu said they have surpassed 45-50% enrollment of boys and girls in school, adding that the number of out-of-school children has been drastically reduced thanks to CTP.
He said the government has built classrooms and learning materials have been provided by UBEC and SUBEB to reduce overcrowding in schools due to increased enrolment.
On sustainability plan
The Zamfara team said a plan has been drawn up to get buy-in from the state government to support the program to accommodate more people from other communities.
Chairman of the House Committee on Basic and Non-Formal Education Yusuf Alhassan Kanoma said the house is determined to ensure that whatever SUBEB or the ministry proposes on expansion program, the communities would get the necessary support.
He said the house was able to increase the education budget by 1.5 billion naira to address challenges in the sector including out-of-school children.
“As for out-of-school children, as long as we reduce the number, we will get to a level where we don’t have any. We will have them all in school because the house strives to elevate any educational issue,” he said.
For Kebbi, Acting Permanent Secretary Bala Magaji said they needed an interim report with concrete evidence that the project was successful, including highs and lows to be able to come up with a sustainability plan.
By Chidimma C. Okeke