How Ganduje is winning the education war
There is a general consensus that education remains the main bulwark in nation building, poverty eradication and better life. Little wonder that Marian Wright Edelman, the American activist for the rights of children, president and founder of the Children's Defense Fund, said; “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”
Nothing better illustrates this than what the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has been doing in the state in the education sector. This is not entirely surprising given that he is a man of letters himself.
“We are not unaware of the challenges: that is why we devote substantial part of our annual budgets to education. More classrooms are being constructed, more facilities provided across all sub-sectors of education while it is no longer news that teacher training is our priority.
“For instance, instead of sacking unqualified primary school teachers, we sent over 30, 000 back to school so that they can be equipped with the necessary skills for imparting knowledge.
“I am sure you are not unaware that we are paying all our students scholarship while we have invested seriously to ensure that almost all the courses offered by our state – owned tertiary institutions are now fully accredited. Infrastructure development at are two universities are going on.
“Similarly, only about one week ago, I signed the Kano state College of Education and Preliminary Studies Bill into law, which has elevated Kano state College of Arts, Sciences and Remedial Studies to full tertiary institution which will be awarding professional certificates in education, in addition to other services it is currently offering.” Ganduje said
Aware of the enormity of the educational challenge in the state early on, Governor Ganduje wasted no time in laying the foundation of classroom blocks under the 2016 fiscal year Kano 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.
It will be recalled that at the ceremony held at Darmanawa Special Primary School in Tarauni local government area, the governor explained that under the scheme will comprise of 61 two-storey blocks consisting six classrooms per block, including offices, would be constructed and furnished.
The project will accommodate an estimated 21, 960 pupils, as each classroom will contain 60 pupils.
“Each block will have six classrooms. Each classroom will accommodate 60 pupils, so more opportunity will be provided for our teeming children to attend public schools and enjoy our free education policy”, the governor stated.
He explained further that 20 out of the 60 new blocks to be constructed would be sited in Kano metropolis, while the remaining 41 would be spread across the rural areas of the state, in view of disparity in pupils’ density.
“Presently, we have over 3 million children in public primary school, which is more than the population of some states. Classes, furniture and educational materials are not enough so it is our responsibility to do our best to address this challenge”, Gov. Ganduje emphasized.
In a little over two years since that bold initiative amongst other interventions, the total school enrolment figure in Kano State has continued to rise, and at present stands at over 4.5 million going by a recent UBEC audit conducted nationwide.
The figure “comprises 3, 695, 402 pupils at pre – primary and primary, and 389, 293 pupils at Junior Secondary school respectively, as contained in a recent UBEC audit conducted nationwide,” a happy Ganduje disclosed recently.
Apart from the building of new structures, renovations, provision of needed materials and equipment in the state schools as well as provision of funds where necessary has continued to enjoy major interventions and boost.
So far, the governor has ensured that 502 in-service returnees have completed various training programmes aimed at developing their teaching methods and skills and report back for further posting to schools.
To ensure that those on scholarships and bursaries are not left in the lurch with their payments running into billions in arrears pending right from the 2012 academic session, the administration of Dr. Ganduje has cleared the payments and given relief to the students whose fates were in the balance.
For instance, at different instances, N660 million unpaid scholarship allowances left behind by former Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has been paid; a further payment was effected as part of the one quarter of outstanding tuition fees (2016-2018) totaling N265, 637, 741 for indigent students in private universities in the country.
The state commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, who made this known, said the universities include A-Qalam University, Katsina N19, 092, 978 million; American University in Nigeria, N21, 526, 430 million; Bells Otago N102, 550, 123 million; Crescent University, Abeokuta N18, 410, 875 million and Igbinedion Okada N104, 057, 741 million.
Similarly, the state Executive Council approved the sum of N210 million for the provision of solar powered streetlights in boarding secondary schools and night Islamiyya schools in various locations across the state.
Knowing that personnel is critical having addressed infrastructure challenge, 1, 196 female Nigeria Certificate in Education holders have been recruited as part of efforts to address shortage of teachers in the state.
Besides that, N350 million scholarship allowances was further disbursed to state indigent students studying within and outside the state as well as another N45 million deployed for the training of 500 mathematics and science teachers at National Teachers’ Institute, Kaduna.
Also the sum of N138 million was released for the settlement of outstanding school fees for 89 students sponsored by the immediate past administration to study at Mideast Aviation Academy, Jordan.
N389.3 million has also been approved for 377 state-sponsored students at Bells University of Technology Otta, Ogun State for 2014-2015 and 2015– 2016 academic sessions, with another N120 million also have been approved to the Kano Polytechnic for accreditation and visitation by the National Board of Technical Education.
Apart of renovations, provision of needed materials and equipment in the state schools as well as provision of funds where necessary, under the Leadership of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
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