Khadijah Muhammad Abdulhameed was among the few fortunate female graduates in the Bukuru community of Jos South Local Government Area of Central Nigeria’s Plateau State.
In 2015, after she graduated with a Law degree from the Bayero University Kano, she modelled herself into a human rights activist who advocates for the need to empower the girl child with quality education and sustainable livelihood.
Khadijah, who grew up in the Bukuru community, felt that it wasn’t every girl child who was privileged to study up to a postgraduate degree like her. “Many girlsin my community couldn’t get the chance to go to even elementary school, let alone pursue a career they might have interest in,” she said.
According to UNICEF, girls account for 60% of Nigeria’s 20 million out-of-school children.
Also, the rate of out-of-school girls in the Bukuru community inspired Khadijah to propose a solution. With some of her friends, she led a survey into several parts of the Bukuru community where they identified the girls who deserve a scholarship opportunity to pursue their dreams of going to school.
“Firstly, we were able to identify girls between the ages of 4 to 7 who are mostly orphans and have never been to school. Secondly, we found girls between the ages of 9 and 11 who had started schooling but could no longer continue due to financial constraints. There are also girls between the ages of 15 and 24 who are less privileged but have completed elementary classes in public schools and are now unable to proceed to Secondary School,” Khadijah explained to Prime Progress.
In championing the enrollment and re-enrollment of these girls into school, Khadijah started the Sow a Seed for a Girl Child Development Initiative or SSGCDI, a women-led organisation committed to creating a sustainable and enabling environment for the girl child to thrive.
While implementing the project of enrolling the girls in school, SSGCDI launched an online campaign soliciting donations of funds for the project. However, since the results weren’t as encouraging as expected, the team paid attention to other alternatives.
“We had to start calling friends, families, and colleagues to enlighten them about the aim of the project we are embarking on while also soliciting their support in achieving the goal of enrolling many out-of-school girls in school,” Khadijah recounted.
The organisation has also written to some corporate bodies and individuals seeking their kind assistance towards the implementation of the project.
“Some of them responded positively, some didn’t even respond to us. From those who responded, we received some funds and donations of 8 dozen of 40 and 60 leaves exercise books,” added Khadijah.
Through self-funding and other donations, SSGCDI facilitated the enrollment of 27 girls into various schools. Before their enrollment, summer lesson classes were organised for the selected beneficiaries through weeks of rigorous lessons in August 2023 to prepare them for the journey ahead.
Aishatu Husseini Adam sat for her Common Entrance examination ten years ago and wasn’t able to proceed to secondary school due to lack of funds.
After identifying the 24-year-old as one of the target beneficiaries, the organisation assessed her level of basic knowledge and felt that it would be better to enrol her back in primary five so she could be well-grounded before moving to secondary school.
“My parents cannot afford to enrol me in school because, for years, my father has been sick; he has become paralysed. I’m now excited because this is a rare privilege, and I hope it will lead me to achieve my dreams of becoming a medical doctor. I want to save lives,” Aisha narrated to Prime Progress.
Hauwa Abdullahi, an orphan who lost both parents 3 years ago after graduating from primary school, couldn’t continue her studies due to a lack of sponsors. Like Aishatu, she also had to repeat primary five at the Anwar Nursery and Primary School.
“I’m happy for this opportunity, and it made me realise that there are kind people out there,” said Hauwa.
There is also Aisha Bala Adam, who dropped out of school due to non-payment of fees, which made her lose two academic terms. The intervention now enrolled her in JSS 3 at Anwar Secondary School.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity and hoping to utilise it to better my life and become a great woman,” said the 16-year-old student.
As part of their efforts to sustain the project, the SSGCDI team visits the schools regularly to measure the level of the girls’ understanding of the curriculums. “During the visits, welearned that the girls are improving in their studies,” said the founder, Khadijah.
The 33-year-old continued, “Apart from getting more grants, we are also looking at how the girls can learn skills such as sewing, catering, and beads making, to make profits, which can be used to fund their education.”
This solution is limited by a lack of adequate funding to enrol more numbers of girls in schools. The number of volunteers willing to participate in the project was also a challenge, as the organisation is short-staffed.
Despite the shortcomings, Khadijah disclosed that the project has been successful because of the efforts of family, friends, and other patriotic Nigerians who believe in the future of the girl child. She also admitted that they are still gathering funds for the enrollment of other girls on their waiting list.
“I hope to see that we enrol many girls into schools not only in Bukuru but even to other communities of Plateau State before expanding to other parts of Nigeria,” she said.
With more funding and unwavering commitment, Khadijah aspires to build a well-equipped school in her community where orphaned and less-privileged girls can access free and quality education.