Given the unanimously applauded position of education as the stoutest weapon to bout poverty and an expedient mainstay on which livelier and fulfilling future is laid, Kano state government has accorded education the attention it merits. Since assuming office, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has taken a keen interest in addressing the issues in the education sector.
This is in consideration of the myriads of problems in the sector the administration inherited with the quality of basic education then becoming extremely poor, leading to low demand and unacceptably low academic performance. In virtually all public educational institution, be they primary secondary or tertiary levels, the classes are overcrowded.
Aware of the enormity of these educational challenges in the state, Governor Ganduje wasted no time in reversing the negative trend by using the state government/Universal Basic Education matching grant projects, worth N2.2 billion of which the state government paid over N1.2 billion as its counterpart funding.
Under the scheme, 61 two-storey blocks consisting six classrooms per block, including offices, were constructed and furnished. The project accommodates an estimated 21, 960 pupils, as each classroom will contain 60 pupils. Each block will have six classrooms and each classroom will accommodate 60 pupils, so more opportunity will be provided for our teeming children to attend public schools. In addition, 20 out of the 60 new blocks constructed are sited in Kano metropolis, and the remaining 41 are spread across the rural areas of the state in view of disparity in pupils’ density.
No one is doubting the importance of basic education as the mainstay of all levels of education. And bearing in mind that the Ganduje administration spent the last four years implementing educational policies and programmes and adopting ground-breaking policies to tackle the various issues militating against functioning of the sector, the introduction of Free and Compulsory Basic and Secondary Education Policy is also not only consolidating such gains but also set the standard in policy formulation and implementation in the sector.
With the new policy in place, payment of school fees has been abolished in all the primary and secondary schools. The state government is directly funding primary and secondary schools numbering 1,180 with a total students population of 834, 366 at a total cost of about N200 million per month or N2.4 billion per annum. Furthermore, N357 million has been budgeted to take care of free-feeding for pupils in primary four to six classes in all primary schools across the state.
The Ganduje administration also sponsored the funding component of the education policy in the state. Cash was distributed to over 110,000 schools across the state designed to enable them build capacity and human resource development. He also distributed 790 Digital Classroom All Inclusive Empowerment Solution and tablets to 728 teachers, 39 master teachers, nine senior secondly school officers and 14 principal officers. The programme was aimed at capacity building towards free and compulsory education on School Development Plan (SDP) and ICT appreciation for directors and zonal education directors.
By making education a priority, the sum of N52.2 billion is allocated to education in the state 2020 budget to the education sector, which represents 25.32per cent of the total budget. Today, just as we can talk about what the government has invested in terms of rehabilitation and construction of well-furnished new blocks of classrooms across the state, distribution of free text books, school uniforms for newly enrolled pupils, school feeding programme, provision of well-equipped laboratories and libraries, the far-reaching achievements of Kano state under Ganduje has not just ignited hope on revival of value delivery in public administration in Nigeria.
It also holds the template of assessing results on both quantitative and qualitative basis. In the words of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, exactly a year ago at the state Education Summit to herald the introduction of the free education policy in Kano by Governor Ganduje, the policy was a start of educational revolution in the northern region and the country at large.
Since the introduction of the policy, the state government has spent over N3.4 billion on implementation. Also, with the state Education Trust Fund (KETFUND), which is aimed at achieving equitable and inclusive access to quality education for all in accordance with Education 2030 Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now fully operational, the state government developed a blueprint to ensure effective implementation by allocating to the fund 26 per cent of the state annual budget to the sector; five per cent of the state Internally Generated Revenue; five per cent of the statutory allocation of local government and two per cent of each contract awarded in the state for the development of education.
To keep the flag flying, the state government established the Community Promotion Committee (CPC) in the state and all the 44 local governments of the state which was able to use funds provided by the government to construct 407 classrooms, 700 classes, construct 460 toilets, 200 boreholes and provided 7,915 3-seater desks and various instructional materials. And just last week, the committees were given N880, 942, 432.38 million for schools rehabilitation across the state.
The implementation of the policy has, no doubt increased enrolment from 1.5 million to 3.5 million in the state. Also as contained in the report submitted to Governor Ganduje by the Sub-Committee on Out-of-school Children survey 2019, after the introduction of the free education policy, it was noted that the serious drop becomes inevitable.
A survey by the sub-committee was conducted across all the 44 local government areas in the state on house-to-house basis, using village/ward heads under the district heads of each local government area with a view to generating a comprehensive and reliable data that will enable government to effectively implement the laudable free education policy According to the report, from the total number of 410,873 out-of-school children in the state, 275,917 are boys, that represents 67% and 134,956 are girls, representing 33%.
The administration also offered teachers training in 3 programmes; Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE), Professional Diploma in Education (PDE) and Bachelor in Education B.Ed to qualify them to teach in schools. There are currently 25,000 teachers undergoing similar training and will graduate next year.
With turn of events, which led to the formal abolishing of the traditional Almajiri system of education in the state, the Ganduje administration is completing arrangements to enroll all 1, 800 repatriated indigenous Almajirai to Kano from other states of the northern region into conventional educational system following the establishment of 15 integrated Tsangaya Model Schools across the state, 10 of which are boarding.
Each of the facility has dormitory, hostels, cafeteria, toilets and staff quarters among others, while 8, 000 volunteer teachers have been engaged to teach in the various public and Quranic schools across the state in a bid to reduce teaching deficiency in the sector, it has recruited of 1,536 female teachers for primary schools across the state; 3,000 teachers to teach in Primary Schools across the 44 Local Governments of the state as well as 60 Alarammomi who will teach in the 15 Tsangaya schools established in the state.
While all schools remain closed due the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ganduje administration introduces Radio and Television lesson programmes for pupils and students especially those who are currently sitting for WAEC/SSCE examinations.
This same thing applies to tertiary institutions in the state that included the two state owned universities. The Ganduje administration inherited only the Senate building at the permanent site of North West University now Yusuf Maitama Sule University with no academic activities. The university now operates two campuses. Many infrastructure projects were also executed at Kano state University of Science and Technology, Wudil and other tertiary institutions by the present administration, while hundreds of courses were accredited with the relevant bodies.
The institutions have also benefited immensely from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) of the federal government in terms of construction projects to include lectures halls, faculty buildings, administrative offices, laboratories, libraries among others.
While substantial amount has been paid in respect of backlog of foreign scholarship, mostly inherited from the previous administration and still working on paying more, the state government reintroduced internal scholarship scheme to for indigent students to pursue various courses in universities and institutions of higher learning within the state and other parts of the country.
Even though the threat posed by the COVID-19pandemic ravaging the global community has affected the proper implementation of the free education policy with schools closed down, it is expected that the pupils will gradually start to feel the impact when schools re-open.
And with the kind of transformations that has been undertaken by the state government through its unwavering policy on the promotion of basic education, the Ganduje administration is set to bequeath a befitting legacy worthy of emulation by any incoming administration in the state.