Zulbushasha Integrated Academy: A community school struggling against the odds to educate IDPs


BY NEWS DESK, OCTOBER 06, 2023 | 12:25 PM

On the outskirts of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State in Nigeria, lies the Madinatu Yerwa community. This community was almost singlehandedly established by late religious sage, Sheikh Ahmad Aliyu Abulfathi many decades ago. It has, ever since, been inhabited by his students, disciples, and children, who built over a thousand houses around his massive mosque.

Within the Madinatu Yerwa community is Zulbushasha Integrated School, a community school that provides education to over 500 internally displaced children aged between 5 and 13. The school was established in 2014 by Sheikh Hashim Abulfathi, son of the late Sheikh Abulfathi, on his personal property as a response to the educational needs of children who had been displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Despite its good intentions, Zulbushasha Integrated School is facing a number of challenges, including inadequate infrastructure, shortage of teachers, and lack of resources.

The school has only four classrooms for its over 500 students, meaning that many pupils are forced to learn in overcrowded and uncomfortable conditions. The school also lacks a proper toilet facility, and there is no source of running water.

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The school's teaching staff consists of only three teachers, two male and a female. They are named Umar Ali (the headmaster) Habibu Kabiru, and Nafisa Muhammad.

Muhammad alone handles the nursery section. The nursery section has no classroom, it uses a zinc shed in the school premises to hold classes.

On the other hand, Ali and Kabiru run two classes concurrently when this reporter visited. They give an assignment in one of the classes, then move to the other while the students carried it out. Classes 5 and 6 are in fact moved to the evening.

Students are highly optimistic

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Despite the challenges they face, the students are eager to learn.

They are motivated by the hope of a better future and are thus fully determined to succeed.

Hassana Abubakar, a student of class 4, said she has learned so much from her teachers and so called for support for them, as well as the school.

Abubakar Mohammed, also a student, said the school is the only school he has ever attended and he learned everything he presently knows from his teachers, giving credit to his teachers.

The students are also performing impressively. This reporter met them at the school learning English, Arabic and Arithmetic.

According to Mr. Umar, the headmaster, Sheikh Hashim's effort is in preventing another round of illiteracy inspired crisis in the future.

‘Even if you leave this, they do not have anywhere to go. There is no school nearby and even if there are, their parents cannot afford it,’ the headmaster explained, noting that, ‘for the parents, it is simply about food.’

He said the school is ‘funded by Sheikh Hashim, but as you know, his responsibilities are unimaginably huge.’

Zulbushasha Integrated School is just one example of the many schools in Nigeria that are struggling to provide education to children in difficult circumstances.

The government and other stakeholders need to do more to support these schools and ensure that all Nigerian children have access to quality education.

Girl child education

In addition to the challenges mentioned above, the school also has a large population of girls.

This makes the school require special and peculiar needs for the girls such as safe spaces and lavatories.

This means that there is a need for support from NGOs like Malala Fund, Save the Children, and UNICEF, among others.

The students at Zulbushasha Integrated School deserve all the support they can get. They are the future of Nigeria, and we owe it to them to give them the best possible chance to succeed.

How we can make the school better

Donate to the school: The school is in need of financial support to improve its infrastructure, purchase teaching materials, and hire more teachers. Volunteer your time and skills: If you have the time and skills, you can volunteer your services to the school. For example, you could teach a class, help with administrative tasks, or mentor a student. Spread the word: Let people know about the school and the challenges it is facing. Encourage them to support the school in any way they can.

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of the students at Zulbushasha Integrated School.

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More pictures from the school

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