“In line with our commitment to reform the education sector, I hereby declare a state of emergency on Basic and Secondary education in Yobe state, to build a solid, vibrant and robust foundation for the development of education” – Hon Mai Mala Buni.
It was on 29th May, 2019, minutes after taking the oath of office, that the Executive Governor of Yobe State, Hon. Mai Mala Buni, in his inaugural address, made the famous declaration of the State of Emergency on Basic and Secondary Education.
Yobe State had been for years listed as one of the educationally disadvantaged states in the country. This unfortunate scenario was further compounded by the absurd and bizarre activities of the Boko Haram insurgency which was characterised with wanton destruction and arson on private and public structures especially schools and health institutions.
For Governor Buni, the situation needs urgent change for the state to move and to move faster, “we cannot fold our arms and continue lamenting our situation without taking urgent and desirable solutions,” he asserted.
The last 21 months of the Buni administration reveals adoption and execution of strategic policies, programmes and projects to effectively and efficiently move the sector to progression.
The commencement of the journey into the state of emergency started with the first ever all inclusive summit on education. This attracted seasoned education administrators, erudite scholars, teachers and other stakeholders to find a direction into a new cause to improve education in Yobe State.
The summit gave birth to a technical committee headed by former Vice Chancellor University of Maiduguri and now, Vice Chancellor Yobe State University, Prof Malah Daura with renowned scholars as members of the committee who developed a framework to rejuvenate basic and secondary education after visiting 1,430 schools across the state.
While waiting for diagnosis and prescriptions by the technical committee, Governor Buni asked the committee to submit its interim report for government to commence work noting that there was no time to waste.
To further demonstrate government commitment and political will to achieve the set objective on rebirth of education in the state, the Buni administration had in 2020 and 2021 allocated the highest budgetary allocation of over 21 per cent to education.
Upon take off, the state government established Seven Model Schools with 430 classrooms in Damaturu, Buni Yadi, Potiskum, Gashua, Nguru and Geidam. Similarly, new mega schools with 210 classrooms were constructed in Damaturu, Potiskum, Nguru, Geidam, and Buni Yadi to increase access to quality basic education and to decongest the overcrowded public schools in the major towns owing to the massive relocation of people displaced by insurgency.
The state government also embarked on complete rehabilitation of six senior secondary schools in the state which includes Government Secondary School Jaji Maji, Government Secondary School Jajere, Government Secondary School Kukargadu, Government Science Technical College Nguru, Government Science Technical College Giedam and Government Secondary School Babbangida.
To support the girl child education, the Buni regime constructed additional hostels in all female boarding schools in the State. These are Government Girls College Damaturu, Government Girls Secondary School Ngelzarma, Government Girls Science Technical College Potiskum, Government Girls Secondary School Gadaka, Government Girls Secondary School Nguru, Government Girls Secondary School Dagona, Government Girls Secondary School Buni Yadi and Government Girls Science Technical College Dapchi
So far, government has procured over 85,710 relevant core subjects text books and other instructional materials worth over one billion naira. School furniture worth over One Billion were also supplied to Primary and Secondary Schools across the state.
The Yobe State government also paid over one Billion Naira examination fees for WAEC, NECO, NABTEB, NBAIS and others in NTIC, NMC Abuja, Federal Science College Sokoto and other Federal Model Schools across the country.
A total of 7,719 Basic and Secondary Schools teachers have so far been trained on basic teaching skills and methodology of teaching in their respective schools.While 200 qualified teachers were recruited to boost manpower in English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Computer science.
It is interesting that the government implored additional strategic measures of teaching students preparatory to intensive coaching of SS 3 students in preparatory to writing external examinations. Government reintroduced extension programmes during holidays when graduating students were recalled from the holidays for extra lessons. Government had during the Covid-19 pandemic implored teaching via radio and social media platforms.
It is gratifying that the 2021 budget has made provision for the take up of the three Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) schools as well as the establishment of the Teacher Training Centre in the state.
In continuation of strengthening its policy and programmes on basic and secondary education in the state, a high powered education council under the chairmanship of the governor, with the deputy governor, seven commissioners and five others has been constituted to monitor implementation of the report of the technical committee and to ensure synergy among the key education players in the state.
The performance of students in the 2020 external examinations were quite heart warming and a very encouraging indicator that the declaration of emergency on education is paying and worthwhile.
Taking the 2020 WAEC examination for example, out of the 12 042 candidates who sat for the examinations, 725 candidates passed with distinctions and credits in all the nine subjects they wrote, 2,530 candidates passed with distinctions and five credits in and above including mathematics and English, 8,042 candidates passed with credits and passes in English , other 7,008 passed with credits and pass in Mathematic.
Yobe State government under the pragmatic and futuristic administration of Governor Mai Mala Buni had in the last 21 months took the bold step of sponsoring 233 students under the Buni Foreign Scholarship Scheme to study various professional courses in the fields of medical sciences and engineering among others. This is necessitated by the fact that it is not only difficult to gain admission for 233 slots in select professional courses at a go but, also to check the consistent break in academic calendar. This no doubt has an advantage to the slots the state may secure in Nigeria universities and other tertiary institutions.
It is expected that by the year 2024/2025 when the Buni scholars would be graduating, the state will parade 233 brand new professionals who will support the critical areas of need with 83 professionals in Anesthesia, renal dialysis, and cardiac care. Similarly, 41 pharmacists, 20 Radiographers, three Optimologists, 17 medical laboratory scientists, 12 Civil engineers, 12 Petroleum Engineers, Five Electrical Engineers and 14 Computer Scientists among others would also be introduced.
Although this is quite challenging and capital intensive, Governor Buni has demonstrated high political will with an uncommon commitment to sponsor these promising sons and daughters of the state to give them, their families and the state a promising future. It also presents the state with a prosperous number of professionals to serve the state better in the nearest future.
With these achievements in less than two years, it is evidently clear that Yobe is gradually moving away from the position of an educationally disadvantaged state to an educationally prosperous state. Of course, Governor Buni is working and Yobe State is moving! .
– Mohammed is the director-general, Press and Media Affairs, to Governor Buni.