We arrived at Boke Primary School while the P7 candidates were just about to complete their final Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE). After waiting for almost 20 minutes, we finally met Saida, one of the P7 finalists. She appeared excited abouthaving completed her PLE but her inner pain was revealed when she sat down to narrate her story to us.
Name of school: Boke Primary School
‘I had dropped out of school in July 2015 because my mother, who has raised us as a single mother, could no longer afford to buy me scholastic requirements for school. S he also failed to raise money for me to register for my PLE. My home is far away from school and it became difficult for me to walk to school every day and leave late since I had to revise with my fellow classmates. All these circumstances frustrated me and forced me to drop out of school. I was then influenced to join bad peer groups of other boys and girlswho had also dropped out of school.’Saida narratedthis with tears rolling down her face.
Saida’s turning point came when she was called upon by Teacher Abibi Grace, a senior woman teacher at Boke Primary School. Grace was trained by ACFODE as a female role model and a representative of the girls in her school. ‘When I heard and eventually witnessed that Saida had joined bad peer groups that are involved in drinking, going for discos and causing chaos in the community, I got so concerned. Saida was a very committed and disciplined girl at school, despite the financial challenges she was facing. She always dreamt of joining boarding school. I was forced to approach Saida’s mother and have a discussion with her concerning Saida’s future. Saida’s mother informed me that she was still struggling to raise money for Saida to return to school, but at the same time she was disappointed that the only child she had hope in for education had joined bad peer groups. I then informed Saida’s mother that I would talk to Saida, encourage her to return to school and thereafter speak to the school administration to allow her to continue with class as she looked for the money. I also pledged to provide support by buying Saida some scholastic materials for her to resume school.’
With permission from Saida’s mother, Teacher Grace followed Saida up, held several counselling sessions with her and was eventually able to convince her to return to school. Saida also accepted the sacrifice of having to walk long distances from home to attend school. Whenever Saida got caught up at school, Teacher Grace would host her at her house.
Grace committed to this to ensure that Saidafinished her PLE. After Teacher Grace’s narration of the story, we inquired from Saida how she felt about completing her PLE. This is what she said, ‘I am very happy that I have finished my P.7. Few girls in our school complete P.7. I thank Teacher Grace for encouraging me and supporting me to resume school and complete my P.7. But I don’t know where I’ll go from here. I desire to continue to secondary school but my mother cannot afford to support me. I also wouldn’t mind joining a vocational school; I believe God will help me.’