Special Report Parents who lost job, income to COVID-19 withdraw kids from school

Parents who lost their job and income as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak have withdrawn their kids from school and stopped their education; interviews and focused group discussions by MAWA Foundation have shown.

Some of the parents, who spoke to MAWA Foundation officials, recounted how their children’s education has been adversely affected because they have no money to carter for family feeding, forcing them to consider education as a none important priority by withdrawing their kids from school.

Parents, who spoke to MAWA Foundation officials at the Keffi area of Nasarawa state, said because they were sacked by their employer as a result of the COVID-19, they can no longer feed their family let alone affording their school fees. They disclosed that their children have been withdrawn from school until when they are able to feed their family and have money to pay their fees.

Mrs. Timothy, a parent whose child attends Child Foundation, a school located in Keffi, told MAWA officials that the hardship she is going through as a result of her job lost to COVID-19 is not yet over. She added that her main challenge is how to get money and feed her kids, pointing out that their education has to stop because she has no money to pay their school fees and carter for their education.

Another parent Mr. Obinna whose daughter attends Prince International College in Keffi, at a focused group discussion of 10 persons, told MAWA officials that since he lost his job and income to COVID-19, his prime concern at the moment is to make sure he provides food and shelter for his family and will not be able to raise money for his daughter school fees this year, hence she has to stay at home.

“I cannot be thinking of sending my daughter to school during this COVID-19 era when there is no food at home, at the moment, the main concern is to feed the family and not her education”, Obinna said

Mr. Alanssan Musasay, while narrating the impact of COVID-19 to MAWA Foundation officials, said he has lost his job to the pandemic. He said that has made life so difficult for him and his family, forcing him to withdraw three of his kids from school.

“I cannot cope with the COVID-19 consequences, the impact is so huge for me to bear, go to my house and see, my kids have stopped school and there is no food for them to eat”, Musasay said.

“Covid-19 has exposed and triggered poverty in my life, I have no other option than to withdraw my kids from school and take them where they will learn a trade,” Musasay told MAWA.

“This is a terrible moment, and many especially the poor need help, government and well-meaning individuals must help to pull many out of the mess Covid-19 has put us to” Musasay added.

When MAWA Foundation visited Sure Start Academy, the school authority said parents of their pupils who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have pulled out their kids because they could not afford to pay the school fees any longer.

Mrs. Ngozi Victor, the school headteacher, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic affected their school. Victor said some of the parents who lost their jobs to COVID-19 have pulled out their kids from the school because they could no longer afford to pay the fees.

She, however, added that some among the parents who still have their kids in the school have not been able to pay their school fees because of economic challenges they are facing as a result of the pandemic.

In a similar account, 36-year-old Mrs. Sarah Wuya who lost her job to COVID-19 says hunger is killing her three kids and their education is not a priority and has since been stopped. Wuya while speaking to MAWA Foundation officials at her Galadima resident opposite the Gwaraimpa area of Abuja, said she was sacked by her employer two weeks to lockdown.

Wuya said two weeks to COVID-19 lockdown, her employer, a hotel located at Abuja central business district disengaged her and 12 other staff. And, since then life has become miserable and full of predicament for her family.

“My children’s education is over, now that I have lost my job to COVID-19, my main concern is to provide food for my kids, their education is not a top priority on my list at the moment,” Wuya told MAWA officials.

In a related development, a group of Angwa Jaba Farmers in the Keffi area of Nasarawa state, who spoke to MAWA Foundation, said they have lost all their income to COVID-19 which has made them withdraw their kids from school and sent them to learn trade and artisan.

The farmers said the pandemic stopped buyers of their farm produce from coming to patronize them, making them suffer abject poverty and deep predicament.

The farmers, who spoke to the MAWA officials at the community Emir’s palace, explained that their customers come from Kano and Niger to buy their farm produce which is mainly rice, yam, and cassava.

They, however, said that since the coronavirus pandemic started all their customers have stopped coming to buy their farm produce which has made life difficult for them and their families.

Mr. Nuhu Umaru, the Emir of Angwa Jaba, told the MAWA Foundation team that since the coronavirus pandemic began, farmers in his community are finding it very difficult because buyers of their farm produce have since stopped coming.

“People come all the way from Kano and Niger to Angwa Jaba to buy farm produce, since the coronavirus lockdown began, they have all stopped coming,” Umaru said.

Also, Farmers at the Gidan Zakara community in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa state have said coronavirus pandemic has made life more difficult for them, forcing them to stop their kids from going to school.

Mr. Junaid Ahmed, a community farmer told the MAWA Foundation team that since the coronavirus pandemic began, farmers in his community are finding it very difficult because buyers of their farm produce have since stopped coming.

“Since the coronavirus pandemic began, we the farmers in this community are finding it very difficult because buyers of our farm produce have since stopped coming”, Ahmed said

Other community farmers narrated how the coronavirus pandemic has put them in deep poverty since their customers from Abuja stopped coming to buy their farm produce.

“Many of our kids who are in secondary school and university cannot return for resumption, we lost all our income to COVID-19, we cannot afford their education anymore, they have to be at home until we get money for their school”, John Abu said.

Another parent, Mr. Alhassan Dahiru, told MAWA Foundation official that nobody talks about education in his house anymore, pointing out that 11 of his children depend on him to feed on the N200 daily income he makes.

Dahiru, who said he is now a member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) Keffi while speaking at the Motor Park, said nobody thinks of school and education when he has no food to eat.

“How do you expect me to send my kids to school when the highest income I make daily is N200, since I lost my job to COVID-19, the kids have to forget school pending when God says they will see classroom again, let them eat to be alive first before we can talk about education” Dahiru added.

“As I speak to you, I owe the person that sold food to me the sum of N3, 000, anytime I get the money I will pay him,” you can now see why education is not the main issue now,” Dahiru said.

Mrs. Rachael Izu, a mother of four, a private school teacher who lost her job during the COVID-19 lockdown, who spoke to MAWA Foundation officials at the Masaka area of Nasarawa state, said her landlord threw them out of the house on December 17th last year because of her inability to pay rent.

She however disclosed that since she lost her job, her family is finding it difficult to eat let alone going to school, pointing out that her children’s school and education have to be stopped pending when things get better.

“As I speak to you, we have no roof over our heads, my landlord has since last year threw us out of his house, we don’t know where our next food will come from, I can’t be talking about their education now, my main concern is how to get food and keep my kids alive”, Izu said.

This report is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) 

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