The Chairman, Jigawa State Universal Basic Education Board, Salis Zakari, in this interview with MUHAMMAD ZANGINA KURA, spoke on why parents in the State have no excuse not to send their children to school.
The State launched what it termed, “Education Change A genda” aimed at revitalizing the education sector, how far has it gone?
The Education Change Agenda was designed to revitalize the state education sector and also to make basic education accessible to every child in the state regardless of his geographical location or parents socio-economic status. To achieve the goals, assessment was conducted, there after, the state Universal Basic Education Board came up with a blueprint which has four segments, including infrastructure, furniture, learning materials and teachers’ quality. And in the last three years, due priority was accorded to each sector. Now, I can vividly say that a lot has been achieved in revitalizing the sector. All the success recorded ensued from political will and commitment demonstrated by Governor Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar, the goodwill of my commissioner Rabi Ishak and commitment of my staff and other stakeholders in the Jigawa education sector. Today our education sector is on the path to become one of the best and exemplary models in the country.
How are you financing the programme? When we assumed office in 2015, we found that the previous administration had neglected to pay it’s counterpart funding for accessing UBEC funds for over two years. But this present government has cleared all the backlog left by previous government and also continued with timely payment of the counterpart funding. As I am talking to you now we have paid over N6 billion counterpart funding and accessed the same amount which accrued to over N12 billion into the account of SUBEB as at last quarter of 2017, within that period we spent over N8 billion in carrying out numerous projects and programs. Presently, Jigawa State is among the three states of the federation that is up to date in payment of its UBEC counterpart funding and we have already channeled the fund we accessed to various projects according to UBEC guidelines.
As you mentioned, there are four key components in the “change agenda.” May we know some of the projects you have executed in thisperiod of time?
The projects we executed comprised that of 2013, 2014. UBEC/ SUBEB intervention which the previous government refused to do, and also that of three years of our administration 2015-2017 intervention. On the infrastructure, virtually all the existing classrooms we met on ground were over populated, while some were damaged by windstorm. The whole condition was not favorable for providing quality education. In a bid to decongest the classroom and make it up global standard, we embarked on massive renovation and construction of new building across all the 27 local government areas of the state In the last three years, we have succeeded in constructing no fewer than 20,446 classrooms for primary schools and Junior Secondary School (JSS) and before the end of this year more classes will be provided. Within the said period of time 246 new schools comprising 133 primary schools and 113 JSS were established to improve learning atmosphere and ensure access to school for every child in the state.
During our NEEDS assessment, we found out that more than half of our pupils are taking lessons on a bare floor, which is not the right practice. To address this we submitted our plan to UBEC headquarter where we requested for increase in the percentage (money) allocated for furniture in the intervention, after deliberation they were convinced and approved our request. According to our assessment, we need about 700,000 seats to address the problems of sitting on the floor, and in the last three years we have been able to procure and distribute over 500,000 seats to schools across the state. Our targets is to ensure that no single pupil sits on the classroom floor by the end of 2018. Teachers welfare is also critical for delivering quality education to pupils. What have you done in this aspect? Provision of qualified and adequate teachers with regular training and retraining, timely payment of their entitlements and welfare are also part of our blueprint in the “change agenda” for revitalizing our education sector.
Government has ensured timely payment of salaries and other entitlement, including pension. Teachers receive their monthly salary first before other workers. With regards to teachers recruitment, we identified the gap or shortage of about 5,000 teachers in our primary and junior schools. We designed a plan for recruitment batch by batch. Currently, we have recruited 1,300. Under N-power, federal government scheme, we received about 2,000 teachers and also we requested for increase of NYSC members. These provide a support and temporary measure in our effort to ensure adequate teaching staff in our schools. With regards to promotion, over 8, 000 teachers were promoted to various grade levels, while over 10, 000 were sponsored for various training and re-training. Some were conducted in collaboration with donor partners, all aimed at improving the teachers skills for quality teaching. The sector is positively responding to the change, and we are fully determined to ensure all our schools are fixed to standard to compete with any private school in terms of quality education and enabling environment for learning.
What is your call to parents and teachers?
I am calling on the teachers to reciprocate the concern and all other gesture government offered them by working hard and impacting qualitative knowledge in our children. While for the parents, with the construction of these huge number of classrooms, establishment of new additional schools, furniture, free education policies and other interventions to the sector, no father has any reason not to send his child to school in Jigawa State. I am appealing to the parents to send their children to school and ensure they attend classes regularly as both religious and conventional education are taught in our schools.
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