Targeted Intervention Helps Vulnerable Children Return to School in Nigeria

All children and adolescents should have the opportunity to meet their full potential of physical, mental, and social well-being. The CaTSS OVC Direct Service Support program worked with community leaders and caregivers to re-enroll children in school who had been orphaned or affected by HIV and AIDS.

At the beginning of 2017, only 58 percent of school age children who had been orphaned or otherwise impacted by HIV and AIDS were enrolled in school in the Magami and Wanke communities of Nigeria’s Zamfara state. Both communities are more than 60 km from the state capital of Gusau, in areas with few local organizations or partners to address this issue.

Through the Care and Treatment for Sustained Support (CaTSS) project, funded by PEPFAR through USAID, MSH implemented an Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Direct Service Support program in five states with the goal of providing free education to vulnerable children.

Some children in the Magami and Wanke communities who benefitted from this program had never been registered in school or had dropped out within the past year. During the four-month intervention (September–December of 2017), the CaTSS project team worked with community leaders to assemble Community Quality Improvement Teams of seven to ten members in each focus community.

These teams were tasked with creating awareness about the importance of education and encouraging parents and guardians to re-enroll their children in school. MSH also mobilized and deployed 24 volunteers from the community to provide door-to-door counseling for caregivers and household heads on the importance of education for every child.

As a result of these efforts, more household heads and caregivers have embraced the importance of education. At three schools in the two communities, MSH staff and members of the CaTSS Community Quality Improvement Teams made arrangements with school authorities to waive all school fees for children in the program who had dropped out of school and wanted to re-enroll. Eighty-nine percent of school age orphans and vulnerable children are now enrolled in school.

One of the beneficiaries, Sakina Aliyu, a caregiver whose two children dropped out of school but re-enrolled under this program, was grateful for the intervention. “I appreciate MSH for this opportunity and I will ensure my children go to school and study up to the university level,” she said.