Community Volunteers administering educational materials and drugs to children in Odumachara Community in Enugu State.

Feb. 26, 2021

It was past 11am when the van pulled in to the community. The team spent over 2 hours on the road from Enugu Metropolis to Igga community in Uzo-Uwani LGA. The team was assigned to the only public school to carry out the child profile collection.

As typical with any southeastern rural settlement, the red earth was visible, houses sparsely located and striking was the fact that there was no access to potable water. Further conversation with community members revealed that there hasn’t been light in the community for years.

The community relies on the stream which is located over 2km away from the settlement for its needs. “We use water from the stream to bathe, cook, wash, and drink,” said a child when questioned. A similar scenario was also encountered across the five communities where there were obvious deficiencies of basic amenities. Interestingly, at Oduma Achara, Aninri LGA, two critical observations were made.

Firstly, the unusually high number of private schools in the community, precisely 3 opposes the norm seen in rural communities, and our fieldworker engaged a community member on the subject. “I don’t trust the quality of the government school. They lack teachers.” said a mother of 3 children.

The field worker asked whether she would use the government school if the situation improved, to which the woman answered, “Yes, I will. The private schools are expensive.” 

This initiative identifies vulnerable children aged 3 – 8 years and attaches them to sponsors. Selected communities include Oduma Achara in Aninri LGA, Igga and Nkume in Uzo Uwani LGA and Abor/Isiala in Isi Uzo LGA. 

 

 

Facts & Figures

The above issues highlight the problem of poverty, lack of education and healthcare, which are indicators of a deficient system, of which the biggest victims are children. 

Having identified this problem, ActionAid Nigeria has partnered with South Saharan Social Development Organization to find ways to remediate the situation, particularly in Enugu state, through the implementation of the Local Rights Programme (LRP).

The initiative aims to reduce poverty by engaging with the poor and marginalized in selected communities through its child sponsorship mechanisms. 

 

 

Community Selection

The aim of the initiative guides the selection of communities. The selection of communities is based on reliable data from the National Bureau of Statistics indicating the poorest geo-political zones in the country. This is then narrowed down to the poorest states and then cascaded to the poorest local governments and communities.

This initiative was first implemented in Ebonyi state. Having achieved success in the state, Enugu state became the next port of call. Before entry into these communities, ActionAid liaises with the appropriate government authorities for ease of access.

 

 

File Image: A dilapidated classroom in Oduma-Achara community where pupils learn daily.

confirmed

Disparity in English language proficiency

The second observation made by the team in Oduma Achara, based on interactions with the children, was that most children in the community barely understood or spoke the English Language. Further interaction with the parents showed that they spoke and understood English Language better than the children. Another negation to the norm seen in other rural communities where the children had better fluency in English than the adults.

This observation led to further inquiries using the key informant interview system. Community members and teachers were interviewed and the following reasons were deduced.

The key reason attributed to this observation is that children were predominantly taught in the Igbo language. It is not certain whether this is to aid easy assimilation on the part of the children, or a lack of confidence on the part of the teachers to deliver in English Language.

It was also elucidated that the parents have traveled more. Some adults had contact with the cities at a young age. Some schooled there, and some trade there. Thus, leaving them no choice but to communicate in English which is more predominant in urban areas. Whereas, the children have lived all through in the community.

This observation begs more questions than it gives answers. Is teaching in the local dialect a more effective form? Is there a correlation between language and future success? These and more are questions that we would look to answer in our subsequent publication.

These communities afford us the much-needed opportunity to educate, inform, and advocate for their basic human rights. As well as to point the spotlight on these communities, which would, in turn, get the government to take more decisive actions. We are excited about the possibilities! 

 

 

By Oduguwa Olusomi