Kaduna’s old­est pupil faces poor mo­ti­va­tion

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION - By Mis­bahu Bashir

Dan­juma Aliyu pop­u­larly called Sarkin Lambu re­cently en­rolled in a pub­lic school, Lo­cal Ed­u­ca­tion Author­ity Pri­mary School 2, Kachia, Kaduna State. He was banned from at­tend­ing school by his par­ents when he was young and at the age of 63, he de­cided to start school­ing.

Al­though lo­cal author­i­ties, in con­junc­tion with tra­di­tional rulers, ac­cel­er­ated ef­forts in woo­ing par­ents to­wards the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion in north­ern Nige­ria, es­pe­cially dur­ing the colo­nial rule, many par­ents turned down re­quests to send their chil­dren to school. A num­ber of par­ents had to be sanc­tioned while many chil­dren were forced to get ac­cess to ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion.

Aliyu said his par­ents were against western ed­u­ca­tion and cul­ture and thus, re­fused to al­low him to go to school. He was how­ever sent to Is­lamic Tsan­gaya school were he learned the Holy Qur'an.

"A lot of par­ents in the north­ern parts of the coun­try saw western ed­u­ca­tion as a ta­boo and they didn't al­low us to ac­quire it in those days. They saw school chil­dren and their teach­ers as peo­ple be­ing led astray. I at­tempted to plead with my par­ents at dif­fer­ent times to al­low me at­tend pri­mary school but they de­clined my re­quest.

“When my par­ents died I had to look for a job to earn a liv­ing and I em­braced ir­ri­ga­tion farm­ing. I was named Sarkin Lambu or leader of ir­ri­ga­tion farm­ers, years af­ter.

He said, “I de­cided to start school­ing at 63 years partly to gain mod­ern knowl­edge and partly to give con­fi­dence to young peo­ple to pay much at­ten­tion to their stud­ies.”

He said he was dis­ap­pointed by the way young peo­ple drop out of schools or par­ents in the ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties de­lib­er­ately refuse to send their wards to schools, adding that most ca­reers re­quire some form of ed­u­ca­tion. He said the surge in the rate of un­em­ploy­ment, poverty and dis­ease would have been checked if ed­u­ca­tion was given promi­nence and schools made con­ducive for learn­ing.

“If you look around, you will see that ma­jor­ity of school drop outs or il­lit­er­ates are unemployed and have lit­tle or no source of in­come. It is ob­vi­ous that peo­ple who have com­pleted ad­vanced ed­u­ca­tion are more in­flu­en­tial and make more money than those who have not been to school.

“I strug­gled hard to send my chil­dren to school but most of them opted for vocational works, farm­ing and petty trad­ing. I want to in­spire peo­ple to go to school and make pos­i­tive im­pacts in the coun­try.”

Aliyu would have started school about ten years ago, he said, but he lacked the mo­ti­va­tional sup­port un­til re­cently when Kaduna State Gover­nor Nasir ElR­ufa'i in­tro­duced free and com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion at ba­sic level. He had suc­ceeded in con­vinc­ing him­self to stop think­ing about any­thing that might dis­tract his at­ten­tion and said he would con­cen­trate fully in his aca­demic pur­suit.

As a new pupil in Pri­mary 1, Aliyu fol­lows and obeys all in­struc­tions and had con­sis­tently at­tended lessons with­out late­ness. He com­mits con­sid­er­able amount of time and en­ergy into both class and home works as­signed to him by the teach­ers and al­most un­der one month, could iden­tify num­bers and al­pha­bets and write his name.

Class one pupils in Aliyu’s school do most of their works in small groups and as group leader; he had de­vel­oped the so­cial skills for pro­duc­tive work with his peers, mostly at the age bracket of his grand­chil­dren. All the groups sit in a man­ner that mem­bers in­ter­act ef­fec­tively and less ar­tic­u­late mem­bers are al­lowed to make con­tri­bu­tions.

“While in class, Aliyu will not en­gage into any sort of off-task dis­cus­sions and took it a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that ev­ery­one par­tic­i­pates by read­ing aloud all in­struc­tions,” one teacher said.

Aliyu’s head­mas­ter, Ahmed Zubair, said in the be­gin­ning, the school was un­en­thu­si­as­tic in ad­mit­ting the 63-year-old pupil but when he ac­cepted to put up with rules and reg­u­la­tions, he was en­listed into class one and since then he had al­ways lis­tened and re­spected the teach­ers.

“He came to us and re­quested that we ad­mit him as new pupil. He said he was un­able to at­tend school when he was grow­ing up as a child. And I told him that as long as he will ad­here to school laws and con­sider him­self as a pupil not an elder, he will be en­listed as pupil. He agreed to come to school early, re­spect the teach­ers ir­re­spec­tive of his age and to take in­ter­est in all the school ac­tiv­i­ties. He was reg­is­tered and given a class.

“He is do­ing well in his class and par­tic­i­pates in group ac­tiv­i­ties with other pupils. We have adopted new strate­gies of teach­ing pro­vided through a UK funded ini­tia­tive, Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­tor Sup­port Pro­gramme in Nige­ria (ESSPIN). It gives more at­ten­tion to group work. It is de­signed in such a way that ev­ery child is given the op­por­tu­nity to ac­quire ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion,” the head­mas­ter said.

The head­mas­ter said one of the prob­lems they fore­saw was that Aliyu may not get the chance to work on his farm and have time his fam­ily.

But Aliyu had told the teach­ers that his chil­dren, who are suc­cess­ful in their re­spec­tive trades and busi­nesses, will pro­vide food for his fam­ily and he will stay in school.

He said teach­ers were mon­i­tor­ing his de­vel­op­ment in a mean­ing­ful way and if he shows sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment he may be pro­moted to a higher class.

But in­ad­e­quate teach­ing and class­room fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing fur­ni­ture, may likely weaken Aliyu’s morale; he sits on bare floor to take lessons. Apart from class six pupils, all other pupils sit on the floor.

The con­di­tion in which pupils learn in the school was ac­tu­ally ‘pitiable’ and most of them in­clud­ing Aliyu seemed stressed. There were no chairs and ta­bles for pupils in Pri­mary 1 to 5; they sit on bare floors to take notes and do other class ac­tiv­i­ties.

Most pupils were dis­cour­aged from school due to lack of fur­ni­ture and teach­ing aids as they pay lit­tle at­ten­tion to teach­ers, ac­cord­ing to one pupil.

A teacher in the school said poor school fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing fur­ni­ture tended to slow learn­ing pro­cesses, adding that "pos­ture is crit­i­cal to learn­ing and at­ten­tion. That is why it is not ad­vis­able to al­low pupils sit on ill-fit­ting fur­ni­ture be­cause it will pre­vent them from be­ing able to take notes.

"If chil­dren are ex­pected to sit still and pay at­ten­tion for long pe­ri­ods, the fur­ni­ture they sit on must ab­so­lutely fit.

"When they are sit­ting, shoul­ders should be re­laxed

Dan­juma Aliyu and other pupils in their class­rooms.

Head­mas­ter, Zubair

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