By Abubakar Ahmadu Maishanu
The Jigawa State school for the blind has become virtually unattended with an official suggesting visually impaired children prefer begging to school.
The school was founded in 2013 to cater for blind children across the state.
The boarding school, located at Limawa community in Dutse Local Government Area, is for the enrollment of blind children for basic-level education.
The school, located in the state capital Dutse, has 66 pupils formally registered, said the vice-principal, Husseini Mahmud. However, the official added that only 10 pupils who reside nearby appear for schooling.
Mr Mahmud said currently there are four students at the junior secondary section, while there are six pupils at the primary section.
In Nigeria’s public education system, junior secondary and primary schools form basic education. The junior secondary school students will move to the senior section after they finish their junior secondary, said Mr Mahmud.
Officials Give Reasons
Explaining the reason for low attendance, the director of works at the state basic education board, Alhassan Marke, said, “Probably because of the lucrative nature of begging in our society, or because an educated blind man has not been a model in the society. I doubt if there are ten blind people working in Jigawa State.
“The major challenge for the school of the blind is enrolment. We’re doing our best, we will not relent in our efforts. Some of the blind people see the school as alien. Most of them see themselves as people destined to beg for survival.”
He lamented the development, despite “a concerted effort by the state government and critical stakeholders being put in place to enlighten the blind about the existence and imperative of the school in the state.”
However, the school’s vice principal, Mr Mahmud, told reporters that although the school is a boarding school, there is no provision for feeding the students.
This may have discouraged the target children from attending, he said.
Mr Marke claimed that the school has all the needed teaching materials for the blind children since inception. But he said the remaining registered students living across the state are not attending because there is no feeding in the boarding school, confirming the vice principal’s concern.
“We have accommodation for students and teachers. What probably makes the other students stay away from school is because the government is yet to commence feeding in the boarding school.
“In Jigawa State, there is free education for people living with disabilities from primary school up to university level. Also, the feeding for the school of the blind is also free.
Grasses occupy the school’s premises
“The management of the school is proving difficult over time because there is no subvention from the authority. The major constraints for the proper functioning of the school are feeding and inadequate manpower,” Mr. Mahmud, the school’s vice principal, said.
Yet, PREMIUM TIMES spoke with visually impaired teenagers who vow to swim against the tide and fulfil dreams through education.
Maryam Adamu, 16-year-old and visually impaired, told PREMIUM TIMES that she was enrolled as a primary school pupil in 2013 and is now in Junior secondary school class two.
She said, “my ambition is to further my education and to come back to the school and teach because I learned that there is a dearth of teachers in the school.”
Also, Ayuba Isma’il, 13-year-old junior secondary school class two student, said: “My ambition is to further my education to become a degree holder and teach.”
Causes of blindness.
Abdullahi Idris, an optician at the Rasheed Shekoni specialist hospital, said child blindness in the state is 1.2 per 1000 live births.
He said causes of blindness in Jigawa State are glaucoma, cataract, scar, and sexually transmitted diseases, among others.
A new granding machine provided by government abundant at the school’s premises for about a year
Also, the state’s Desk Officer of the not-for-profit German Base Mission, Abalis Dasat, said the agency has carried out 906 cataract surgeries on pupils and students of primary and junior secondary schools in the state.
He added that a total of 764,504 school-aged children have undergone eye defect screening in the state.