By Jumai Suleiman
Thursday, October 12, was a historic day in Taraba state, especially for the education sector. On that day, 3,000 teachers newly recruited by the administration of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku for primary schools received their letters of appointment. It was the first time in the history of the state that such a huge number of teachers were being employed in one fell swoop. The event was celebrated not only by those who were physically present at the Day Care Centre venue of the presentation but in the over three thousand homes of the beneficiaries and their relations across the state.
For the beneficiaries, it marked the end of the long search for the job that was so much after their hearts. And for the Ishaku administration, it was not only an opportunity to put smiles on the faces of the 3,000 teachers and their millions of dependants but also to dramatically improve the quality of instruction in primary schools. It was also a demonstration of the administration’s commitment to education which has already begun to tell positively in the performances of the state’s students in the West African Examination Council, WAEC.
In the two years that the Ishaku administration has been in the saddle, the performances of Taraba state students in WAEC has jumped to enviable heights. In 2016, the state recorded 67.3 percent in the examination, a remarkable improvement over past performances, the best of which was below 30 percent. In 2017, the state took the 8th position nationwide in the examination. That performance was also the best in the entire Northern states.
The October 12 event was a three-in-one package. It was also a flag-off for the distribution of thousands of instructional materials which included books purchased for the schools by the administration. The materials and many brand new vehicles also purchased by the administration for effective monitoring and supervision of schools were on display at the event. There was also the flag-off of the construction and rehabilitation of schools in the state. Governor Ishaku laid the foundation stone for one of the new school buildings to be constructed in Jalingo to flag-off the programme. Most of those who witnessed these events came out with the verdict that education in Taraba state has never had a better time than now.
The Ishaku administration is desirous to extend educational opportunities that are not only qualitative but sustainable to all children in the state. Thus, the administration has devised strategies targeted at bringing to school over 285,000 out of school children in Taraba state. The government will not only ensure that these children are in school but that they remain there to the end of their education. For this reason, government has embarked on massive construction, rehabilitation and renovation of classrooms and other school infrastructure as well as the supply of furniture and instructional materials.
Patrick Bello, a lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and an indigene of Taraba state who was in Jalingo on a visit and witnessed the ceremony said the huge investment in education is one of the greatest legacies the Ishaku administration was bequeathing to the state and its people. “What I have seen today speaks a lot about patriotism and commitment on the part of the governor. Imagine how much money has gone into the provision of all of these materials.”
Some of the teachers who received their letters of appointment spoke of their fulfilled dreams. Isaac Musa from Lau Local Government said the job came at a time he had almost lost hope. “I can only thank God and Governor Ishaku for this rare opportunity. It is a privilege and I will do my best to contribute adequately to the educational advancement of the state”, he said. Many of his colleagues spoke in the same vein. They described the amount of commitment of Ishaku towards the improvement of education in the state as rare and commendable.
Governor Ishaku is encouraged by the quick and remarkable results that have been achieved in education in two and a half years of his administration. These results are an indication that the investments in education are not a waste but part of the strategic government effort to reposition the sector for lasting positive results. The Commissioner for Education, Mr Johannes Jigem, said no governor since the creation of Taraba state had shown as much commitment to the development of education as Ishaku.
The lucky 3000 new teachers owe the state that has honoured them so much with the teaching appointments. They must key into the programme of government for repositioning education in the state. The opportunities they have been offered on a platter of gold is not an invitation to sit back at home and expect the salaries to come. It is for them to work hard to help government in achieving its desire to educate all the children of the state. They must demonstrate positive mental attitudes to their duties. Their commitment to the profession must be total. That is the only way that the huge government investments in education can produce expected results and that is when the state’s journey out of the abyss of rot in the area of education can be said to have been completed.
Suleiman writes from Jalingo, Taraba state