Dr Muhd Jabbi Kilgori is the commissioner for Higher Education in Sokoto State. In this interview with HENRY TYOHEMBA, he speaks about the state of education in the seat of the caliphate and what Governor Tambuwal’s administration is doing to change the narrative.
Sokoto State government recently declared a state of emergency in the education sector. What led to the declaration?
On May 29, 2015, while giving his inaugural speech, the governor of the state, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal mentioned education as his topmost priority and then he convened a retreat of all the key stakeholders, government functionalities, partners and all the key actors in the education sector. During the retreat, it became clear that there are challenges in the education sector and that the sector is the key to all such that if you are able to address it, you can easily address other sectors. So he made the pronouncement, declaring state of emergency as there was an increasing demand for education, for access and also challenges in terms of availability of facilities and also challenges of enrolment and inability to have maximum access. There is a general outcry that in Nigeria, we have a lot of out-of- school children especially, in the north and governor wanted to address that.
In addition, he also wanted to address the issue of modernization of the education system. Education is a living industry, there are modern techniques and technologies of handling classroom management and teacher punctuality, effectiveness and capacity building among others that the governor wanted to buy in and ensure that he address. He set up three committees. The first one was ‘Policy council which he chairs, and the second one was the Technical committee; that undertook a whole review of the education sector from the pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary. They looked at all the institutions, schools and their facilities, manpower, the system, the processes and the community participation and partnership collaborations. All the aspects were reviewed and they came up with solutions, things that we can immediately do. He also allocated the highest amount of 27 per cent of the budget to education sector, which exceeded the UNESCO’s benchmark of 26 per cent. He came up with a mission to address the education sector. Declaring state of emergency gave him the opportunity, the ability to maximize the use of available resource and break all barriers to the sector. It also give him the opportunity to maximize collaborations with international organisations and also local investors in education where all were mobilized to move the sector forward and to bring the desired change. The third committee,which was headed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alh Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, was set up in order to enhance the education sector to have good support and partnership with the traditional institutions, getting them to work hand in hand and making sure that there is maximum enrolment and that the school infrastructure were being taken care of.
So the traditional institutions and religious organisations were all put together under the Sultan, who we believe will be able to talk to them to make sure that every child acquired education. We have had a lot of tremendous impact and output after the declaration.
With the declaration of the state of emergency, what has been achieved so far?
Let’s talk of infrastructure. Of course, when you talk of education, the first thing is where do we have the classes and the schools? We have been able to provide new schools. For example, we established one school in Gudu local government and it is the only local government that does not have a senior secondary school in the whole country.
When the emergency technical committee reviewed the state of educational facilities in the state, we found out that the local government does not have a senior secondary school and the governor invested over N1bn to have a state-of-the-art secondary school for the community in Gudu local government of Sokoto. Secondly, we have established almost 100 junior secondary schools through community participation and demand creation. We also established over 50 senior secondary schools in the state. We have been able to innovate dilapidated infrastructures through state interventions and joint interventions with UBEC. We have given a facelift to a lot of schools in the 26 local governments, with new classes established in some of the schools. We have also been able to make sure that the state university got full accreditation. This means that we met all the requirements from NUC. We spent about N1bn to provide books and e-library was established and automated in the school. This university is just five years old we have been working to ensure that equipment and manpower are there. We have also been able to attract collaborations and investment from different organisations. The Rochas Foundation last year established a school here which is worth N1.2 bn as part of Governor Rochas Okorocha’s contribution to the upliftment of education in the state. You know he is a traditional title holder in Sokoto so he came to establish that. We have also a lot of support from Oando, MTN Foundation so many things have happened during this period. Also, if you go into the area of manpower, recruitment of about 32,000 teachers was recently approved. When the governor came into power, he also approved another 2,000 so more teachers are being recruited to meet up the needs of the schools.
Teachers are also given regular training and retraining and their salaries are being paid up to date. That is very important because we know many states in Nigeria are not paying teachers’ salaries, some are owing five months or eight months but here teachers are paid up to date and even before other civil servants get paid, teachers get their salary in Sokoto state. We are also having the teacher motivation, even their own gratuity and pension is paid because that is the motivation. If you know that when you retire, you are going to have your gratuity easily, you have that zeal and motivation to be able to work and ensure that you do your work diligently. Our main target is to make sure that we have maximum access, we work towards seeing that the out-of-school children are brought back to school.
The issue of integrating Al-majiri Schools into the Western Education has been a major concern. How are you managing it?
You know, Sokoto is the center of educational learning in terms of Islamic education. Sokoto first initiated the Al-majiri integrated school system and that is how it was bought over by the federal government to promote it across the northern states. So here, we started it right from 2007 or so and we have integrated school system.
We have one central school and we have also schools in all the localgovernment where we try to integrate the Al-majiri school system. We provide them with hostels, feeding and sanitation. They are being taught both Islamic and western education and we try to work with thebMallams too. With the partnership of UBEC, we have been able to establish more schools. Above that, there are Quranic schools all over. We have over 30,000 Qranic schools, every community in the state have Quranic schools. Now, our target is to make sure that we integrate Quranic schools and we are doing that. We have started with 4,000 and we are trying to see that all the Quranic schools are integrated. We are adopting the concept of ‘if you don’t go to school, the school go to you’. We are setting the school right at their doorstep. We are also providing better shelter for the schools and engaging the circular Mallams and also locally sourcing the Quranic education teachers that will be working to give them the free primary education, with all the necessary customized materials to train them on literacy, numeracy and making them to have that foundation to be able to mainstream them into the primary schools.
How would you describe education under this administration?
I will describe it as performing and achieving the desired goals. This administration has done great in enhancing maximum access to eligible children, improving the quality of both sexes having opportunity to go to school, enhancing quality in terms of getting better teachers and also producing much better teaching and learning environment, more classrooms, furniture, equipment, more books are coming and incentives to the families to allow their children go to school through community sensitization and mobilization. So we have seen a very high positive impact. I just came back from New York, where I went to receive an award on behalf of the governor. He was given an award for his excellent visionary leadership in education by UNESCO. I can say that the federal government is thinking of declaring a state of emergency because of the result seen in Sokoto.
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