NGO Activity in LEARNigeria Communities
LEARNigeria is a citizen-led assessment (CLA) aimed at testing the literacy and numeracy level of children between 5-15 years old. The survey was initially piloted in two local governments (LGAs); one in Ikorodu, Lagos state and the other in Ungogo, Kano state. Following the successful pilot of the assessment the project was scaled up and conducted in 36 additional LGAs across 6 states in the country – including Plateau state, Ebonyi, Akwa-Ibom and Taraba. Attributable to the primary goal of the assessment (being Citizen driven), there was need to form partnership and engage the services of NGOs/CBOs who are citizens of the selected LGAs.
Partnership with NGOs was critical in support and strengthening the purpose of the project, to widen the reach of LN, watering it down to the local level. These partners were to be the torch carriers of LN assessment in their communities, reaching the locales both in schools and households, even in their local languages. They were commissioned to translate and support implementation of the tools and activities relating to the survey. It was the duty of these partners to elect members/volunteers from the selected enumeration areas (EAs) whose interests are aligned with the goal of LEARNigeria (LN), train them in the use of assessment instruments and facilitate/monitor implementation of the survey process within their localities.
Working with some of these partners, particularly in Lagos, Ebonyi and Plateau state made for a smoother survey process than would have otherwise occurred.
Prior to the state survey, the NGO partners were trained on the background and framework of the project, and therefore had knowledge of how the tools provided would be dispensed and applied. Going forward, it was through them that supervisors and volunteers were selected for the training and eventually field work.
Having these partners from the community was very instrumental as they helped us navigate through the inner parts of the communities where we would have to go through bad/rocky roads and cross a number of bridges hours at a time. They also played a role in bridging the gap between us and the community members, especially in volatile EAs where our mission was questioned. Their assistance was credible in the overall mobilization and supervision of the survey as it progressed and aided in engaging community leaders with feedback from the survey.
During the school survey across all selected states, the NGOs were valuable in delivering our introduction letters and explaining the relevance of the survey to the Head teachers in schools to be surveyed. Having the NGOs supporting us, made it easier for these schools to fully embrace feedback gotten from the survey and promise to improve in the areas within their ambit, while pleading with us to ensure the government gets actively involved in improving their infrastructure and learning facilities.
Partnership with community based NGOs during the survey was invaluable in keeping track/checking/monitoring/ensuring accountability of LN resources and with their help, field supervision and communication with supervisors and community volunteers alike was generally fluid.
As was observed in some cases, these NGOs faulted in delivering on their responsibilities. During training at the local level, it was evident that some partners were not completely clear on the process/methodology of the assessment. This was a tad bit disappointing in view of the resources and man power that went into their training and capacity building. Some of them claimed ignorance to the fact that it was their responsibility to facilitate training, leaving it to the LN representatives that were present for supervision and process clarification. In other cases especially in the northern states, partners were transparently more interested in funding. They were instrumental in delaying the assessment due to late receipt of funds for implementation. As a result of these actions, it is recommended that for future partnerships with NGOs/CBOs,
The no. 1 objective should be to determine trust/total commitment to the goal and responsibilities of the partners.
Partners should be encouraged to significantly engage in every step of the survey process in their communities
NGO partners should above all, be committed to the advancement/achievement of the project goals.
In summary, LN survey was an interesting revelation into the culture, practices, socioeconomic and environment activities connected with education, one which despite their misgivings, it could not have been successfully achieved without partnership with the NGOs and FLOs from these communities.