For residents of Wuro Hari, a settlement on the fringe of Shani, a simple community in northeast Nigeria, life is uncomplicated yet fulfilling for its residence who engage in cattle rearing and farming; the men farm and rear animals while women collect wood for livelihood and care for children. The vast skyline over Wuro Hari stretches far into the horizon, unobstructed by giant trees and industrial skyscrapers.
Harun Yusufa, a 38-year-old Fulani father of five, lives with his family in a modest hut made of mud bricks, thatches, sturdy sacks, and ropes, embodying the traditional lifestyle of his settlement in Wuro Hari.
However, when Harun recently decided to enroll four children in school, he faced jeers and was ridiculed for his unconventional choice.
“I am the first man in Wuro Hari to enroll my children in school.’
“It was unheard of because as Fulani, we are pastoralists. This is an occupation passed down from our ancestors, one that our children are expected to inherit from us. My decision was seen as an abomination,” Harun added, reflecting on the skepticism he encountered.
In 2022, Harun and some other community members had participated in a UNICEF-supported community engagement programme. Funded by the Federal Republic of Germany through KfW, the initiative aimed to raise awareness about the connection between education, improved sanitation, and the overall well-being of families.
“The meeting opened my eyes to new possibilities beyond cattle rearing. Through education, my children will not be cheated as herders. They will also not be inclined to cheat. That’s how I made up my mind and refused to budge to the naysayers.”
“I also decided to install an improved toilet, which faced opposition as well. Some claimed I was engaging in an abomination as the Fulani tradition encourages the use of the bush for defecation. However, now other people in Wuro Hari have also enrolled their children in school. If you were to visit our community, you would see numerous households with improved toilets. I take pride in being the first to initiate this change in Wuro Hari,” he added, with excitement.
Through diverse interventions, such as construction and renovation of classrooms, teachers’ training, radio clubs, community engagement and the empowerment of out-of-school adolescents, UNICEF, with financial support from the Federal Republic of Germany through KfW is assisting state governments in northeast Nigeria in enrolling out-of-school children. This effort ensures they are equipped with the necessary skills for a brighter future.
“Education has transformed my children. Since enrolling in school, their hygiene practices have improved. Now, they are eager to wash their hands before and after meals, as well as after using the toilet. I am impressed with their progress, and I have no regrets about my decision to enroll them in school,” Harun concluded, a sense of fulfillment resonating in his words.