Staff of HVCF have been assisting in the establishment and strengthening of SBMCs in 58 schools. This has involved the process from the introduction of the concept to the communities through the training, mentoring and monitoring stages right to its fulfillment in active SBMCs.
An SBMC comprises the head teacher, a few other teachers, and community members such as the head of the community, some of the parents and other members of the community, both men and women, as well as some youth and children. This committee is the bridge between the school and the community it serves and thus the work of the committee is voluntary. The committee is intended to contribute to the planning and development of the school, to make decisions that contribute to the school’s growth and to promote education within the community. They monitor the progress of the children and support the parents to send their children to school, right to completion of their education, especially the girls.
How large is an SBMC?
A typical SBMC is composed of 17 members from the groups as outlined above.
Is SBMC another name for PTA?
No, the SBMC is not PTA under a different name. PTA is, as suggested by the name, composed of teachers and parents of students in a particular school. Because education is seen as important for the whole community, not only those who have children in school, the SBMC draws upon all members of the community. A significant difference is that the SBMC as some of the children as members.
From whom do SBMCs get their power to act?
The power of the SBMCs is twofold. First of all, it is rooted in the community because it is the community who elects the members, who changes membership when necessary, who contributes to the success or failure of the SBMC. However, the government is also involved, having given approval to the program and instructed that it be implemented in all schools. It is thus a work of collaboration as education is a primary responsibility of government yet it cannot be done without the full support of communities.
SBMC seems to be a new concept. Is it known worldwide?
We are aware of SBMCs in Africa; whether it is worldwide, we do not know. However, in Nigeria, we know that it is gaining added acceptance because of the successes it has been registering.
What are some examples of such successes?
We cannot give an exhaustive number of examples, but we can speak of our own experience. In schools that did not have sufficient teachers, after the SBMCs were trained in advocacy skills, they went to their Local Government and more teachers were posted to the school. In other cases, they were able to mobilize the communities to carry out needed repairs and to buy some of the supplies needed for effective teaching. Another success is that they were able to convince some community members who had withdrawn their children to re-enroll them so they could continue their education. SBMCs also were able to put more pressure on teachers to show more commitment to the welfare of the children educationally.
You said the work was voluntary. How then do you get the commitment of the members?
There are a number of factors involved. One is that success can breed success. When the SBMC has succeeded in what it has planned, that is a source of pride to them, and motivates them to do another task. Another factor is the outcome of the training because the training enabled the members to see the advantages and disadvantages of having community members who are educated. Members who are children are delighted to be given a voice in how their school is functioning. The fact that the members are chosen by the community also gives them confidence that they are representing more than just themselves or their immediate family.