interviewBy Favour Nnabugwu
The Executive Chairman, Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, Mr. Ishaya Dary Akau, in this interview with Favour Nnabugwu in Kaduna touches on a number of issues bordering on the problem of education in that state and ability and inability of the state to access the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC's intervention funds
What is the state of schools for special needs children?
Well, the new policy does not operate along special schools having special schools for them. We are now talking of the inclusive education that would provide education to the disadvantaged in the same place as would provide for those who do not have any challenges.
So facilities would be provided for them in the school system, wherever they may be so that they can learn alongside other people. We do not believe in discriminating against them and putting them in a special place. I know before now there was a school which catered for the deaf, dumb and blind but we are moving away from that to this issue of inclusive education. As l am talking to you now, we have just done our policy and operational frameworks also for inclusive education in Kaduna State which we are going to launch.
Are you aware of the 14% imbalance education funds from Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC?
Yes. We are aware of it and we have not put together what is required of us in order to access the fund. I am actually writing a report to his Excellency, Governor of Kaduna State on 2011 projects; how far we have gone in distributing those funds.
What criteria is the state using to disburse those funds to schools?
No. We don't disburse the funds to schools; we use the funds from UBEC. There are several types of funds from UBEC, and the intervention funds are for capital development of infrastructure, building classrooms, providing furniture, and other things that could make a school conducive for learning.
Then, there is money for teachers' development that is for teachers training which we get and we organize training centrally here for all teachers. For now, we are organizing training for headmasters, district education officers, senior education officers, and for the teachers themselves.
Today, we are no longer talking of a teaching going to the classroom to say he is teaching rather we facilitate children's learning and we go to schools to find out whether those children are learning or not. It is no longer the sort of thing that used to happen in the past. There are
funds also for School Based Management Committees, SBMCs for the development of school based management committees and that is where the self help thing comes from. Some of the money comes in the form of training the SBMCs themselves, because they don't give people responsibility without equipping them with the necessary skills. So we
first of all, train them before they begin to work and after which they can make their request known. And of course, when such money comes, we expect that the committees asking for help from UBEC would put down 10 percent of whatever development they want to execute. UBEC would now give them the balance of that money.
I think there are many schools, I can't tell you the exact number that are enjoying in this area. And some are making considerable progress. Some have even gone beyond what we expected from them and the SBMCs are now really the ones that have taken root and honestly are doing very well. There is one in Kaura, I think they are having a luncheon on Saturday where
they want to raise some millions to augment what government and other donor agencies have given to them.
Would you say schools in Kaduna states are up to standard infrastructurally?
I would be telling you a lie if I say we are up to standard, because you have to tell me what a standard is. When I need about 22,000 classrooms and I don't have that number, it's not standard. And of course, we inherited a lot of dilapidated buildings, some of which we are trying to put right.
But the bill, when you talk of trying to put things right, the whole state budget cannot address those things so we have to do it slowly. Now we have decided that doing what we call whole school development. We are selecting schools, develop them to a certain standard and then move to the next set. This is what we are doing. It may take time to reach everybody, but we believe that dispersing these facilities does not help rather we take a whole school develop it and move to the next one.
Is the SUBEB satisfied with the quality and academic qualifications of teachers?
No. We have checked who teaches in our schools and we have discovered that no less than forty eight percent of those are teachers are not qualified. Why we say they are not qualified is because the basic teaching qualification for primary schools in the Nigeria is the Nigeria Certificate in Education, NCE.
That is to say those who do not have NCES. But some of them have grade two, some of them have FCCE while others have some non descriptive qualifications. But the truth of the matter is that the issue is 50:50 when we are talking of qualified teachers in our schools, we are aware of that. Even those who are qualified still have problems hence we are now trying to build up those that are qualified but have problems and we are doing very well in that direction.
We have two programs going on now, one is the UBEC\ESSPIN program, where we train about 4,000 teachers every year, on basic teaching skills and of course, we have the Strengthening Mathematics and Science Education, SMASE program.
We have already trained 4,000 teachers also and is still ongoing. We believe that five to ten years from now, every teacher would have passed through these things then our schools would then be manned by qualified teachers. Even as I am talking to you now, we are beginning to see progress in some of the schools.