Nigeria: Making Education Accessible to the Poor

27 July 2021
opinion

The Kano State government is committed to transforming the educational sector in the state. 

Stakeholders in the education sector across Nigeria would readily attest to the fact that Governor Abdullahi Ganduje is determined more than anyone else in the history of Kano State to ensure that education is taken to the door steps of all bonafide children, especially those of the poor. It is interesting to note that the sector had not been as busy in the past 45 years as it was in the last six years.

This is thanks to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje's unflinching passion for education and his desire to redress the negative attitude and perception of an average Kano indigene towards western education. The administration of Ganduje had been initiating programmes and policies designed to increase access to western education and improve the quality of education content which are being executed at all levels of education across the 44 LGAs of Kano State.

Governor Ganduje, a Ph.D holder, whose wife is also an academic, had said: "Honestly, it has been six years of hard work, resilience and determination towards changing the negative narrative and to ingrain the love of Western education in our rural population."

Ganduje had predicted that with the level of investment in the education sector, since the launch of free and compulsory basic and secondary education in Kano State, coupled with other complementary interventions, education looks attractive to rural communities. He said by the time his second tenure would end, there would be no Almajiri of Kano origin that can be found in any street of Nigeria due to the current pace of making education a priority. To achieve this envisaged goal, the Ganduje administration has been approaching education from different dimensions. Incipiently, was the need to create necessary consciousness that would spur astronomical increase of school enrolment at basic education level. Especially due to obvious certain cultural and religious beliefs, which had for decades mitigated and ensured a good number of children of school age are kept out of school system. It was in view of this that the Ganduje administration adopted a novel approach. Although expensive but highly imperative, the administration shouldered the responsibility of providing uniforms, exercise and text books as well as financially complimented the school feeding scheme of the Buhari administration.

Gladly, this had paid off as school enrolment has been rising from 750,000 in 2014 to 3.3 million as of January 2021. Other intervention in this regard, was the monetary grant of N40,000 each to the parents of the girl-child as motivation towards preparing the girls for school. Also, the Ganduje's administration has ensured the building of a total of 5641 classroom blocks, while some were rehabilitated to accommodate the carrying capacity of envisaged astronomical enrolment. These classrooms are targeted at the children of the rural folks and the less-privileged in the state. Also, the administration had ensured the establishing of 44 Almajiri integrated model schools across the 44 LGAs of the state, to accommodate the evacuated Almajiri's that were hitherto roaming the streets of urban centres. These model schools seek to integrate western education into the traditional Islamic education.

Furthermore, despite the recruitment of over 7,000 Islamic and conventional teachers in the state to fill in the gap and the manpower needs of existing schools, it is remarkable to note that very recently, the Ganduje administration announced its willingness to convert over 5,000 civil servants in the state, to be drawn from the various MDAs, that is: those possessing education-related qualification, to be deployed to the various primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across the state. Furthermore, to address the problem of falling standards and improve quality at the secondary and tertiary level, the administration has also embarked on massive infrastructure rehabilitation of existing secondary and tertiary institutions across the 44 LGAs of the state. New structures have been erected while others are ongoing to expand their carrying capacities and improve learning environment.

Furthermore, the Ganduje administration has emphasized teachers education and development being the key towards improving the quality of education to be impacted to pupils and students alike, in the state. Thus, through the accessed counterpart fund intervention of the Universal Basic Education Fund, the administration has trained and retrained over 7,000 academic staff as well as sufficiently equipped the schools with modern teaching aids. The aim is to leverage on the training and exposure of teachers in transforming the state's education sector. This was also replicated at the secondary and tertiary levels where the state government is partnering with France and other embassies to train the lecturers abroad.

Also, the state government has initiated and signed an MoU with family homes LTD for construction of 5,000 house for teachers in the state. He has extended the retiring age of teachers from 60 to 65 years, all in the bid to get the best out of the teachers acquired experience. Similarly, the Ganduje's administration had instituted a variety of soft loans for teachers, which could avail them the opportunity to own personal houses and cars before their retirement dates.

Similarly, about 5,000 motorcycles were procured and distributed to education officers and supervisors to simplify and assist them in touring around all the primary schools in the state to assess and ensured compliance to stipulated teaching methods and regulations.

As a way of addressing youth unemployment in Kano State, the Ganduje administration also introduced entrepreneurship studies at the tertiary, secondary and basic education levels. This was designed in collaboration with the ultra-modern state- of- the- art skill acquisition centre, established by the Ganduje's administration to specifically encourage self-employment, among graduates and those who might for unavoidable reasons, decide not to continue with their education. At the basic and secondary levels every child is expected to take a subject in one of the 25 different skills and trade within the general studies subject. It is also, gratifying to note that to support the aggressive drive and sustain the tempo in which the administration is taking the education sector in the state, Governor Ganduje had ensured a progressive increase in the state education budget, which was evident as the sectors budget since 2015 to date has been 26 percent of the state annual budget. All these achievements would not have been possible if not for the commitment and determination of the governor to transform the educational sector in the state. Out of excitement, the present commissioner for education in the state, Mallam Mohammed Sanusi Kiru, remarked: "in all the states of the federation, there is no state that is investing in education like Kano State, under Governor Ganduje".

Bilal is MD, Royal Publicity Publishing Company, Jos

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