The Block Grant Intervention is an education intervention of ARFH-LOPIN Region 1 in which support is provided to Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Nigeria. The education intervention is aimed at helping vulnerable children enroll/re-enroll to school and continue their education without the fear of paying any form of school levy. In 2018, following an assessment of the ARFH-LOPIN Region 1 Rivers state team to Community Secondary School, Nkpolu Oroworukwoinilluoabuchi area of Port Harcourt, it was discovered that majority of the students sat on the floor to learn in overcrowded class rooms. Apart from this, students were exposed daily to broken, deplorable and non-functional toilet facilities with no hand wash section, un-hygienic water supply with no water filter. For a school with a total number of 2,277 children, sanitary facilities remained inadequate while about 30% of the children sat on the floor making it difficult to learn and write their exams. Given that education is a human right, it mandates the right of children to quality education in a decent, safe and conducive environment, regardless of their socioeconomic background.
ARFH-LOPIN Region 1 Rivers state team paid a courtesy visit to the Executive Chairman of SUBEB and its Directors on September 7, 2018, first to explore ways to collaborate with the government through the proposed block granting intervention as well as to seek their approval to continue the provision of school levy waiver for at least 118 OVC. Prior to this, ARFH-LOPIN Region 1 had supported the renovation of Sacred Heart Primary School, Illuoabuchi Port Harcourt with an MOU signed with SUBEB that the OVC in the school will complete their education and proceed to the next level without paying any levies.
The SUBEB Chairman and his team touched by the plight of the children pledged a counterpart funding support to ARFH-LOPIN Region 1 Block Grant Intervention. He made good his commitment on 29th of January 2019 by delivering school items worth 4 million naira to Community Secondary School, Nkpolu. The items which includes 100 wooden and metal school desks, 9 regular teachers tables and chairs, 1 executive table and chair for the Principal and 1 file cabinet, will complement ARFH-LOPIN Region 1 Block Grant Intervention of 80 wooden and metal desks, toilets renovation and installation of water filter as WASH intervention within the community school. With the combined efforts of both ARFH-LOPIN Region 1 (supported by USAID) and SUBEB intervention, an estimated 540 students will be reached.
The principal and students of the school were agog at the site of the school items. They prayed for God’s blessings over USAID, ARFH-LOPIN 1 for aiding SUBEB in remembrance of the school after several attempts to get the support of government.
For a country ranked as having the highest number of children (13.2 million) out-of-school in the world, Block Grant Intervention serves a means to restore hope to millions of vulnerable children by helping them to enroll/re-enroll and stay back in school. Education is one of ARFH-LOPIN Region 1 strategy to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS by ensuring that OVC stay in school, thereby delaying sexual debut and empower them reduce inter-generational poverty which tends to perpetuate susceptibility to the risk of HIV/AIDS. Moreover, it has a spillover effect of improving the entire learning condition not only on OVC but also on the children learning in the schools. Furthermore, children are taught about HIV/AIDS, reproductive health and the need to reduce stigmatization.
ARFH-LOPIN Region 1 is a 5-year project supported by USAID and is implemented across 3 states in Nigeria- Rivers, Lagos and Akwa-Ibom. In the golden words of Nelson Mandela, “Education remains the most powerful weapon in which you can use to change the world”.