The struggles of student-mothers
Sir: Motherhood is the toughest and greatest experience on earth. Throughout the journey of pregnancy to the point of delivery, it is all about pain. At the point of growth, so many sacrifices are made to provide the needed training, support and shoulder for the child to lean on. What is life without a mother?
A special creature with a tender heart of love and affection who will at any time trade her life in exchange for her child. The builder of home and the selfless being who gives her all for the best of her dear baby. Certainly, mothers deserve to be celebrated every day. Extraordinaries are those women whom after all the motherly activities still manage to attend lectures.
Student-mothers constitute a small but significant part of Nigerian tertiary institutions. Education has been recognised as a basic human right since the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And motherhood has been seen as a reproductive right ordained to women. Though there are difficulties in trying to combine the exercise of both rights, some women have decided to take the bull by the horn to achieve these dreams.
According to research, student-mothers are faced with challenges of meeting the demands of being both a student and a parent of a young child(ren), the inadequacy of childcare facilities, restrictive or “no child on campus‟ policies, inconvenient timing of lectures, and acute financial pressures.
Hauwa Suleiman, a mother of four and a final year student of Mass Communication, Bayero University Kano, said that her quest for a better-paid job is responsible for her decision to further her education even after marriage. Though the journey has not been easy, she has remained resolute in making sure that both responsibilities are taken care of.
Another student from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Ukamaka Idoko, said that catering for three children and attending school activities has been hectic. She explained that her major challenge is having little time to do extensive reading and be with her kids. “The school management should at least have a daycare that will accommodate kids. And they should provide good hostels to help cope with stress”, Ukamaka added.
Similarly, Suleiman Saadat who is a mother and a student of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, said that she got married while at 300 level and playing the tripartite role of a mother, wife and student has not been easy. She lamented the uncooperative and harsh attitudes of some lecturers towards student mothers.
She said: “ Some lecturers fix class and test by 7:00 am and they expect you to be there at the exact time. A minute late and you are out. I have missed lots of tests and lectures because of this. When your baby is crying, the lecturer will just send you out and will not allow you to come back again.”
Adama Umar Ayuba is of the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University Kano.
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