The past few weeks in Nigeria have been unprecedented in the nation’s history. The new CBN policy on the reprint of new N200, N500 and N1,000 notes and the rejection of the old notes as legal tender in the country has had serious effect on the people. As an educational NGO, we decided to review the implication of this new policy and the scarcity of the new notes on the education of children in public and low-income schools who are from indigent backgrounds. The absence of cash is a different reality for students and parents and things are really hard for students out there as most of them are from underserving homes and the situation has hit them hard.
1. Attendance and Puntuality
In a short survey launched by the Foundation, over 80% of the respondents reported that they know at least 10 children who could not go to school because they could not get cash to pay for their transportation to school. One of the teachers who was contacted said “school was half empty today”. It was also gathered from WhatsApp status of a secondary school student named Rabiah Abdusallam who wrote “cashless zone don finally reach my side oo. I no fit go school tomorrow now because no money to transport myself and food.”.
Furthermore, in an interview with a public school teacher, Victoria Abiola, she told us that the school had to delay a continuous assessment because most students were not in school when the assessment was scheduled to start. This was because the most of students had to walk several kilometers from their houses to get to school for the text.
While we are trusting that the new currency will go into circulation, it is highly recommended for schools to deploy electronic teaching strategies so that students who could not join the class physically will participate virtually.
2. Cleanliness and Appearance
Interaction with selected number of teachers across schools in Lagos made us understand that majority of the students in secondary could not wash their uniforms, cut their hair or plait their hair because they could not access cash. This made quite a number of them appear so unkempt to school. Although we didn’t research into how this would impact on girls that were on their monthly cycle, it is not unlikely that some of the girls may be absent from school because of lack of cash to purchase sanitary towels.
The students have to be deliberate about looking neat. The boys should neatly comb their hair while the girls can pack their hair neatly also.
3. Hunger and Less Concentration in Class
In a few schools, we have reported a trend of some pupils who got hungry because their parents could not give them cash to buy food or snacks during break time. Quiet a number of the students remained in their classrooms while those with cash went out to buy things to eat. This also has a tendency of affecting the level of concentration of the learners while teaching is going on. Another thing that could affect the level of concentration is the thought of how to get home. A student who is hungry and still have to trek some kilometers back home can be weakening. This is the time for co-students to imbibe the spirit of sharing. Commercial bus motorists can also help students who are in this category whenever the help is requested.
4. Possibility of Child Abuse and Hawking
We received a report in confidence of a girl-child in one of the state owned public schools in Surulere who have started hawking sachet of pure water on the street in order to support the income of the family. The income of the single mother who takes care of her and her other sibling has reduced due to the scarcity of cash. People could not purchase from the mother and this largely affected their welfare. She was compelled to hawk on the streets after school so the family can at least eat.
This is the time for people to show love to others. Share with those who are starving or whose means of livelihood have been largely affected by this.
5. Teaching Time
Due to the late arrival and low attendance reported early, it is very likely that the teaching time may also be negatively impacted. Teachers may arrive late and students too may also arrive late. To balance this, some schools may sacrifice the first one or two periods for teaching so that they would have got a fair number of students in the classroom before lessons start.