This community was discovered by journalists when the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) led a team of volunteers including environmental enthusiasts, teachers, pupils and officials of partnering organisations to the area for an environmental outreach programme.
Visit to Ishaga Community in Mushin Lacal Government Area of Lagos State, shows similar features as most parts of Lagos Metropolis-
clusters of thriving stores, dense human population and of-course water-logged drainage that is also filthy with all manners of discarded and disused items especially sachet water packs as well as nylon bags.
But there is one feature of the community which might probably not be found in other areas of the metropolis. It is the fact that during school hours, children of school age are seen in their numbers wondering about in mufti. This occurrence appeared strange to volunteers of an environmental outreach programme in the area and asking the necessary questions, they were told that formal education was massively rejected by residents there, particular within a particular section known as Seriki Ishaga dominated by Hausa Speaking people.
“There is no schooling here. One man who is called staff introduced one small school here. He was even empowering children by giving them N10 everyday for them to come to school and learn. But they still stopped coming. They don’t know the value of education”, explained a resident while talking with volunteers in the environmental outreach programme in Ishaga.
Findings showed that boys in Seriki Ishaga might be sent to school to spend few years in primary school to at least learn how to count money, giving that their major occupation is trading. But for the girls,
former education is a no go area. Before clocking 18 ,some of them would have become mothers to grown up children.
Angered by the unpalatable discovery, a lot of the volunteers had to shift focus as they started preaching to the children on the need to start going to school.
One of the volunteers, who simply gave her name as Mrs. Arosi, a primary school teacher talked to over 10 different groups of the out-of-school children in Seriki Ishaga.
“I saw them roaming about and called them and interviewed them, why they are not in school. They said they go for Islamic study in the evening. We are urging that no one is stopping them from going for Islamic study. They just have to go to school in the morning and go for the other in the evening, so no one with affect the other”, Mrs. Arosi said regrettably in an interview with journalists”.
“We want the children to come to school. We don’t want to leave any child behind. Our country today , the problem we are having is that those who didn’t go to school are the ones disrupting the country. So we want all children to come to school”, she added.
Powered by the Oando Foundation and supported by Sumitomo Chemical, the environmental outreach at Ishaga Mushin had the theme: Clearing of drainage and Community sensitization recycling awareness campaign. The Nigerian Conservation Foundation( NCF) provided the technical support.
Volunteers and some concerned villagers believed that the programme would go a long way in not only sowing the seed of environmental cleanliness among the residents, but also act as catalyst towards increasing people’s interest in formal education, granted that school children were among the participants.
Mrs. Arosi thanked everyone that made the environmental outreach programme possible, saying ,” The Oando Foundation wants to help us to take care of our environment so that our environment will be clean. We thank them and others collaborating with them”.
Another participant in the programme was Alhaji Mohammed Ndana, chairman of the Parents-Teachers Forum of One hundred and eight (108) schools in Mushin.
He said, “Oando Foundation came to help the community. They are here to sensitise us about the importance of the recycling system, more especially the table water nylon, malt can, and nylon of sachet water.
” Most of our people in this environment are fond of dumping their refuse into gutters and the Oando Foundation with their partners were able to sensitise the people that henceforth Government of Lagos State doesn’t want anybody to drink table water and drop the waste inside the gutter”.
In her remarks,the Head of Environmental Education at NCF, Mrs. Abidemi Balogun said sound environment is important to promote learning among school children, hence underscoring the relevance of the exercise at Ishaga Mushin.
“We plan to expand it to other locations. We are in this area today and pupils from two schools are participating in the programme. The schools are Ishaga Close Primary School and Islamic Model School. The host community is Ishaga. We are having the clean up today.
“The essence of the clean up is to create awareness about community involvement in maintaining a serene environment and making sure that children have a conducive environment because without them being healthy, there is no form of education that can be achieved”.
Nigeria is said to have 10.5 million out-of-school children , which is the highest in the world.
The figure indicates that one-third of Nigerian children are not in school, and one in five out-of-school children in the world is a Nigerian.”
When the issue of out-of-school children in Nigeria is being discussed, attention of most people focus on very interior and remote villages in the country.
It sounds strange however to realise that such large numbers of out-of-school children could be found in the heart of Lagos. Lagos is undoubtedly Nigeria’s most sophisticated city ,the nation’s economic nerve centre and is even known by the slogan ,”centre of excellence”.
The authorities in Lagos State have tried by making public schools quite affordable and equipped,relative to their private counterparts.
But with this discovery at Ishaga Mushin, many feel the government still has a lot of work to do in making sure that no child is found loitering at home during school hours.
By Innocent Onoh