The Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) in collaboration with Kano State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and Partnership with Adolescent Health Information Project (AHIP) launched on-line homebased learning materials for over 6000 marginalized and vulnerable children that stand the high risks of not having access to learning during school closures in Kano.
The launched materials include numeracy and literacy learning materials for over 4000 learners, solar transistors radio for 400 marginalized and vulnerable households and sign language materials for over 2000 children with auditory learning disabilities (ALD) and multiple disabilities; the contents of literacy and numeracy materials are developed by VSO partner Twinkl.
In her opening remarks, VSO Program Manager, Ms Chritabel Omolade said VSO has been intervening in Nigeria since 1958 working through volunteers to combat poverty in Nigeria by implementing education, secure livelihood, economic empowerment, youth programs and volunteering for development.
VSO has brought about systemic changes through its education program in Nigeria, using the approaches based on education principles on accessibility, affordability, acceptability and applicability to address diverse learning needs among learners and providing the right support for teachers and education managers to improve and increase participation of marginalized groups, she added.
Ms Omolade recalled that in 2008, VSO partnered with the Nation Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Kano to improve the quality of science and mathematics education in public secondary schools where marginalized groups attended, saying the program was intended to increase the number of students in tertiary institution from marginalized groups and communities who enrolled for course in sciences.
She said VSO partnered with Kano State Secondary Schools Management Board (KSSSMB) and AYDI and implemented its first peer-to-peer girl education in Kano.
The project reached out to out-of-school girls in identified communities using the in-school students from the identified schools in Dala and Madobi Local government Areas where 150 in-school girls and 150 out-of-school girls were reached.
And over 100 teachers were trained on use of Sign language while over 10000 children are already learning sign language in 10 communities of Bunkure and Kumbotso LGAs of Kano State.
This led to increase in access to education for the out-of-school girls, and the peer-to-peer project reached out to a total of 406 girls comprising of 150 in-school, 150 out-of-school girls and 106 girls with special needs, she added.
She also revealed that during the intense period of the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, between June-July 2020, VSO partnering with AHIP and working through its National, Professional, Graduate and Community Service Volunteers provided solar transistors radio to children in 140 households to access learning from the government and Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) radio sponsored learning program in the state, saying “we provided Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) materials to communities to reduce the spread of Covid-19 from person to person, households and communities.
Ms Omolade prayed that this approach does not end with VSO, but will encourage others to join VSO to continue to provide the required materials for children to access quality learning in Kano.
The Executive Director, AHIP, Hajia Mairo Bello said her organization has been promoting inclusive education which needs a lot of support, saying VSO in their humane way decided to support inclusive education which takes care of everybody in the family, including the persons with disability while teaching people in the household to be able to communicate with their children and make neighbours to be more friendly with children with disability, this will give them a sense of belonging, she added.
She said VSO has been supporting their inclusive education initiative in the past two years but because of Covid-19 and the lockdown, VSO is supporting with radios to distribute to households to enable vulnerable children have tools to learn from their homes as government and civil organizations provide e-learning radio programs for children in primary schools.
Hajia Mairo said the support they provide is in form of work books and sign writing materials adding that families and communities are happy with the engagement because of the nature inclusiveness of their intervention, saying “once you integrate the children with disability with the children that are able, it encourages and increase experience sharing in the learning process.
The Executive Secretary, SUBEB, Dr Danlami Hayyo appreciated VSO’s intervention and called on other non-governmental organization to emulate VSO ad AHIP as government alone cannot meet the huge public financing needs of education across board.
The mother of a beneficiary from Jaoji Quarter, Gyadi-gyadi, Kano, Badariya Dansarki Usman said she is very pleased with the intervention because it has helped her son to continue learning during the lockdown and now that schools are not in session.
Badariya said government alone cannot cater to all the needs of the society and called on well-meaning individuals and organizations big or small to support the initiative because of the inherent benefits.