OPINION: GANDUJE: MAKING EDUCATION ACCESSIBLE TO CHILDREN OF THE POOR

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje is determined more than anyone else in the history of Kano state to ensure that education is taken to the doorsteps of all bonafide children, especially that of the poor in the state. It is interesting to note that the sector has not been as busy in the past 45 years as it has been during the last six years.

Thanks and credit to the governor for his unflinching passion for education and his desire to redress the negative attitude and perception of an average Kano indigene towards western education. It has continued to be seen that the administration of Ganduje have 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.

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 enticing intervention to make education look attractive to rural communities, there would be no Almajiri of Kano origin that can be found in any street of Nigeria.

To achieve this envisaged goal, the Ganduje administration has been approaching education from different dimensions. There 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 the school system.

It was in view of this, the Ganduje administration adopted a novel approach, although expensive but highly imperative and thus; 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 risen from 750,000 in 2014 to 3.3 million as at 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 to school. Also, the Ganduje’s administration has ensured the building of a total number of 5641 classroom blocks; while some were rehabilitated, most of them are newly constructed 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 that were hitherto roaming the streets of urban centres. These model schools seek to integrate western education into the traditional Islamic education.

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 teachers, to be deployed to the various primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across the state; this s how serious the Ganduje administration has taken education. 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 the learning environment.

Going further, 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 lectures abroad.

Also, the state government has initiated and signed an MoU with family homes LTD for construction of 5,000 houses for teachers in the state as well as 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. The Ganduje’s administration had instituted a variety of soft loans for teachers in the state, 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 ensure 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 billion naira state of the art skill acquisition centre 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 Ganduje 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 governor Ganduje to transform the educational sector in the state.

At the pace governor Ganduje is demonstrating concern in education he is perhaps, patriotically inclined to delist Kano state from being home to some of the 10.5 million children which UNICEF statistics revealed are out of school in Nigeria.

According to UNICEF, Nigeria accounts for one in every five out of school children in the world and represents 45 percent of out of school children (OOSC) in West Africa.

In Kano state today, Ganduje has demystified the monopoly created by private schools as a result of the falling standard of public schools in the recent past.

Taking your child to private school in Kano today remains only a choice or a mere flamboyant display of status or class stratification. This is because the public schools are presently far better in terms of quality of teaching staff, instructional and teaching aids as well as the conducive infrastructural environment.

•Mohammed Isa Bilal is the M.D. Royal Publicity Publishing Company in Shendam in Jos