By Yemi Monday
Seventeen-year-old Maryamu Abdullahi of Unguwar Barkodi, Sabuwar Tifi in Ningi, headquarters in Ningi Local Government Area (LGA) of Bauchi State has expressed interest in going to school rather than taking the easy path of getting married.
Maryamu’s story is pathetic, being the fourth of seven children by her mother. Her father is an old blind man who cannot engage in any venture to take care of the family, thereby forcing the children to venture into things that will bring food to the table of the family at all cost.
While narrating her story at the point where she hawks groundnuts at the Primary School, Sabuwar Tiffi, Maryamu said: “I could not attend school because I have to hawk in order to make money for the survival of my family. My mother is responsible for the upkeep of the family because my father is sick and blind.
“We don’t have a house of our own. My family is squatting with a good Samaritan who gave us one room in his compound to stay in. It is indeed very difficult for us to survive. In the morning, I go to hawk Koko (pap) and in the afternoon I hawk groundnuts here in this school.
“I make at least N4,000 each day from the hawking I make from Koko and groundnuts. It is that money my mother will use to buy foodstuffs to feed the family everyday. It is really stressful for me but I have no choice.”
Asked if she does not want to be educated, Maryamu reacted saying, ‘I want to go to school, I don’t want to get married now. Each time I see some of my friends in this school, I feel bad, I always want to be like them but my parents are not ready to let me go.”
She revealed that already, arrangements are almost concluded to get her married to a young Fulani man in a close by village, saying that probably the marriage will take place around December after the harvest of farm produce, a development she said is making her get scared that her dream of going to school may not be realistic.
According to her, two of her brothers went to school but did not know the reason she was not enrolled in school by her parents even though she has the desire to go to school.
Maryamu is appealing to UNICEF and other concerned people to come to her aid to ensure that she goes to school and become educated, stressing that marriage is not on her mind now: “I want to be a Nurse to be able to save lives particularly pregnant women who want to give birth.”
When contacted, Chairman of the School Based Management Committee (SBMC) of the School, Dahiru Ali promised to get to her parents and ensure that she was enrolled because according to him, the GEP 3 project has actually completed the efforts of his committee in ensuring that the number of girls enrolled in the school increased.
Dahiru Ali further assured: “I know her father. He is a gentleman even though he is blind. But I know that when we talk to him about her request, he will not stop her. He has other children who went to school. I don’t know the reason she was not in school all this years.”
He commended UNICEF for the GEP 3 project saying that apart from the enrollment of girls that has significantly increased, other aspects, particularly the menstrual hygiene system has greatly improved thereby making the girls to now have self confidence in relating with others.
The SBMC Chairman also expressed his impression about the security situation in the school which the GEP 3 project has improved upon saying that, the students are now security conscious particularly, “the boys are protecting the girls from harassment by a few boys along the way to school or back home.”