Last week, the Kano state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, announced the introduction of free and compulsory education policy, to stem the alarming rate of out-of-school children being faced by the state. BASHIR MOHAMMED speaks to parents on the development, as well as wonders if the policy can rescue Kano
Education being the bedrock of development of any society, is receiving the priority attention of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who has assured the populace of not only free but also compulsory education, to stem the rate of school dropouts in Kano state.
The governor no doubt knows that no sphere of human endeavour could ever be effectively developed without lending appreciable credence to the education sector.
It was conservatively estimated that over two million out of school children are currently roaming the streets in all the 44 local government areas of Kano, on account of the fact that their parents are either averse to western education or lack the financial wherewithal to send their children to school. The state governor therefore came with the idea of free and compulsory education to relieve them of the financial burden.
On coming on board as the duly elected governor of the State on May, 29,2015 , Ganduje saw the compelling need to critically examine the myriad of challenges facing the sector and the burden he inherited from his predecessor, on how to propel the sector to greater height.
Attention to education
In all his budget proposals he presented to the state house of assembly for passage by the law makers, the governor had made it explicit to everyone that he was ever ready to pay good attention to the education sector in the areas of supporting Kano indigenes in foreign universities to forge ahead with their various academic programmes, among competing needs for the state’s financial resources.
Free primary education
The issue of free primary education is one of his priority areas in the quest to make the education sector ticking, taking the bull by the horns to ensure that parents were convinced to use the opportunity given to them by the government in enrolling their children for primary and compulsory education which if properly embraced could be a stepping stone towards eradicating the monster of ignorance and illiteracy in the society.
Most of the parents had failed to listen or hearken to the exhortations of the state government on agreeing to have their children enrolled for the free and compulsory education, presumably on account of poor financial status or the inability to comprehend the good intention of the government on educating their children.
It was however Governor Ganduje’s believe that for the free and compulsory primary education to be realistic and reach fruition, there is also the compelling need for the blanket expansion and renovation of primary schools found to be in dilapidated condition in addition to enhancing capacity building among teachers imparting knowledge to young pupils.
Basic teaching qualification
To this end, hundreds of teachers, currently teaching in all the 44 local government areas of the state had been sponsored by the state government to attain the basic teaching qualification in order to instill some same balance of academic discipline from the onset, knowing that without competent tutors, the quest for achieving the objective of free and compulsory education would remain at the level of rhetoric.
Free and compulsory education had however elicited a fusillades of comments and observations from various stakeholders, who envisioned the fact that free education is part of the much pronounced dividend of democracy and that the programme had its root dating back to the period of the second republic, when the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo used such a mantra as part of his campaign agenda.
In the words of Malam Ibrahim Nagero, the Ganduje administration deserved all accolades for championing the crusade to forge ahead with free and compulsory primary education at the time money accruing to the State from the Federation Account had plummeted adding that with the blossoming population of Kano only a dogged governor can sustain the tempo.
According to him, the condition of primary schools in the state before the advent of Governor Ganduje was alarming and pathetic, considering the urgent need for furnishing and equipping the schools with the much needed facilities for effective and sustainable economic activities.
He said addressing the rot in primary education does not stop at the level of window dressing and that government ought to critically examine the pros and cons of ensuring quality primary education which is the main pre-condition of attaining stellar academic height affirming that the State government had nothing to lose even if it spent all its financial resources.
He said “I am always puzzled by the fact that the most affluent people in the society, are most contented by sending their wards to foreign academic institutions even at the primary level. They are contented because they know that they would have a better future. They equally have them admitted into universities after attaining their secondary education it the vogue now and nothing is done to arrest the situation”.
Private primary school
“To a person like me how do you expect me to have my children enrolled even in private primary school for quality standard to be acquired. I have no alternative than to rely on government to educate my children. all I know is that Nigeria is going the way many countries have educationally fallen” he added.
“In fairness to governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, he is doing what is possible to assist the most gifted indigenes of the State to continue with their various overseas academic programmes unmindful of what had transpired after taking the oath of office. I believe that he had no animosity against his predecessor because he had continued to offer scholarship grants to Kano indigenes. so looking at his free primary education policy, he really performed wonders” he retorted.
But in the words of Zakari Shehu Maishayi he was short of words to express his appreciation to governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje having gotten the opportunity to have his eight children enrolled in primary schools, courtesy of his free and compulsory education policy affirming that quality education is the gate way to attaining university education.
Rate of out of school children
According to him, the alarming rate of the out of school children which was conservatively estimated at over two million should be a cause for serious concern to parents who had developed the apathy to allow their children to be enrolled in primary schools pointing out that the army of Almajirais roaming the streets is enough to scare every responsible parent.
He however stated that those who are castigating the governor on education are doing it out of personal vendetta and that the degree of cynicism they developed is born out of the penchant for mischief and gross mudslinging aimed at dragging the reputation of the governor into disrepute.
“It is just a mere propaganda for one to portray the person of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje in bad light, because he had performed well. the issue of free and compulsory education had been in existence for decades right from the onset of the first republic , there is no way one can convince the most gullible audience to believe that the effort of the governor on education is nothing to write home about” he said.
However, experts in the education sector and keen watchers of the unfolding events in the education sector are of the view that free and compulsory primary education could be realistic and attainable if leadership is ready to make sacrifice in the face of the prevailing national economic situation