By Muhammad Yusif Muhammad
The Principal of many schools became a Permanent Secretary in 1999 for his outstanding character, integrity, doggedness, sincerity and above all, fears of God. In 2002, the same outstanding character earned him demotion to classroom teacher from an erstwhile boss who saw the good in him. In 2003, God listened to the popular voice of the people and made Shekarau the Governor of Kano State after a landslide victory against the same man who sent him away for being honest.
In spite of the gang up and evil machinations against him, Shekarau became the first Governor in Kano State to repeat the same political feat in 2007. In 2011, after the successful completion of his required two terms in office consecutively as governor, he emerged the presidential candidate of an erstwhile opposition party with yet another landslide victory in a keenly contest at the primary. In 2013, Shekarau became a founding member of a mega party and in January 2014, he has a good cause to move away from the mega party to the ruling PDP. On 9th July, 2014, he was sworn in as honourable Minister of
education by Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCON, after Shekarau had appeared at the senate and given clean slate.
Since he resumed office at the education ministry, he left no one in doubt that he is out to solve problems for the common good of the people and their society. He immediately swung into action, met leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and their Colleges of Education counter part whose members had been on strikes for ten and eight months respectively. Shekarau, known for his goodwill and political sagacity talked sense into them. The leaders of the two unions saw reasons in Shekarau’s talk and immediately directed their entire members, nation wide to resume work to enable their students to also resume their academic pursuit, thereby ending the ten and eight months of their industrial action respectively.
The workaholic educationist Shekarau in his few months of assumption of office has been working tirelessly, visiting various tertiary institutions for on-the-spot assessment of the various intervention projects towards re-engineering Mr. President’s transformation agenda in education sector. One of the cankerworms that had done deadly blow to our education system was the incessant strikes always embarked by teachers, which has done no one good to any one except setback. In order to avoid this ugly trend, the federal government led by Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan took some far reaching approach towards nipping things in the bud.
In assessing Mr. President’s performance in this particular sector, there are two basic assessment principles upon which Jonathan’s transformation assessment of education sector are built. These are level of access to education and its quality. In view of the increasing large number of people willing to receive education, there is need to increase access and create and more opportunities for people to be able to go to school. In order to increase access to education, the federal government has so far built and established additional twelve (12) new universities, four (4) new Polytechnics and four (4) new Colleges of education across the six geo-political zones in the country. At least, each of these institutions admitted not less than 2000 students. At the basic education, which is the Primary level, the government has constructed over 127 Sangaya Primary schools in the North, many of which have been commissioned. At the Secondary school level, government also established and constructed 49 new schools for girls. This is how access to education has been created by Jonathan’s government to enhance more intakes of students at the various level of education sector. The second assessment point is the
quality of education. The government has also ensured that there is quality in the provision of infrastructure such as lecture theatres, class rooms, office facilities, laboratories, workshops and libraries.
A walk to any of the federal and even state tertiary institutions in the country for on-the-spot-assessment will attest to these various developments.
Before now, there was Education Trust Fund, which was made up of taxes paid by private manufacturing sector. It has been discovered that not much is being realized in view of the enormous challenges in education. It is against this background that Jonathan transformation agenda came up with various interventions, one of which is the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND). Under this pragmatic approach, every public University received N910M, Polytechnic received N650M and College of Education has in its kitty N550M to access. It left for each institution to decide what to do with the Fund. In spite this, when ASUU had crisis, Mr. President accepted to do NEEDS assessment, marshalling out the basic needs requirement. At least, N1.3trillion was assessed and approved by the President, which is tobe released on phases for five years with N220 billion being released on yearly bases. The Honourable Minister of Education, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau chaired the Implementation Monitoring Committee where it is discovered that some of the institutions are yet to come forward and access the fund. As a matter of fact, no previous government had ever injected such fund to tertiary institutions except now.
This is not all. As a result of water shortage in Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, the sum of N9billion water project with effective water treatment is being carried out. The Samaru village is earmarked to benefit from this water project by the federal government. At Yaba Polytechnic, five new projects of which none is less than N2billion is also being embarked by the federal government under Jonathan transformation agenda in education. It is interesting to note that even State Universities benefit from the NEEDS and TETFUND irrespective of party affiliation. This is unlike in a State where a particular student was denied scholarship for not wearing certain colour of cap on the day of disbursement.
There is also the sponsorship of quality staff where special Presidential Scholarship Programme for every first class students in the country. Admission is sought for them to read up to Doctorate level in the first best twenty five Universities in the world. At the Colleges of Education, there are special libraries. The Federal government equally sponsored the publication of Mathematics and English language textbooks to improve student academic performance and enable them to pass the subjects. All this is courtesy of the teaching syllabus of Jonathan transformation agenda based on access and quality
At present, the Honourable Minister of Education, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau has promulgated standing order where he sets aside every Tuesday as inspection day to all institutions of learning including that of the States for on the spot assessment of government projects. The focal point of Shekarau is to cultivate harmonious industrial relations in the University, making it strike free institutions. He believes that there is always a carry over problem and that no matter what the problem is, lesson and teaching must continue. As a partner in progress, “we are one and the same thing.” He therefore resolves to continue and sustain the tempo.
The NEEDS assessment reports bothering on staffing, facilities and other issues are being addressed, which at the end of the day, there will be no need of strike by any institution. Shekarau, whose great concern and focus is on teacher-education, wants to restore the dignity in the teaching profession. As a teacher, he believes that the quality of education in any country is linked to the quality of the teaching staff. Therefore, he is doing every thing possible to accord teacher-education full priority in line with the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Indeed, the Education Minister, Malam Shekarau wants to resuscitate and revitalize the Integrity of the teaching service as well as giving attention to entrepreneurship education as a recipe for curbing
insecurity and solving the prevailing social and economic problems. In this regards, he plans to assemble and convey the National Teachers Submit in March 2015 to brainstorm and sustain the campaign about the teacher and the teaching service and to remind every body and parent in particular, to know what is happening towards promoting teachers’ success and advancement, summing it up as “let-every-one-teach-one under the auspices of give back what the system has given to you. All these are enshrined in the interactive/lunch forum organized in Kano over the weekend where the Minister elaborated extensively on the score cards of his ministry in line with Mr. President’s transformation agenda.
Finally, it is hoped that the government is given the chance to do more for the education system as pivotal and engine room of human’s existence and for any development in the society, without which
nothing can be achieved. As a matter of fact, Jonathan is working, Shekarau is working and education is transforming.
Muhammad writes from Kano and his email is email@example.com