Alhaji Tajuddeen Gambo is the Commissioner of Education, Kano state. In this interview with Maryam Garba Hassan, he talks about how the state government is addressing the issue of unqualified teachers in Primary schools and the 5000 additional teachers needed to tackle issue of congestion in 800 schools in the state, among other sundry issues. Excerpts:-
With the revolution going on in the education sector in the state by the present administration, what is the ratio of enrolment and retention of female students in school in the last 3years?
I don’t have the exact ratio now but the number of children going to school in both public and private sector in 2011 is a little over 1m. Now we have about 3million in enrolment. For girls, there are a lot of programmes introduced by the present government to attract the girl child to go to school. Transportation to school, for female students was made easy during the time of Okada in the state. To make things easier not that there was no Okada; we introduced busses for only female students to avoid excuses by parents who don’t want their daughters to obtain western education.
Secondly, even before education was made free in the state, girls were not paying schools fees and examination fees. Students are fed, and given two sets of uniforms each to ease the financial burden off parents and to enable them allow their daughters to go to school.
Before, you hardly see our girls attending government technical schools but the state government has opened 44 additional Technical Colleges in the state; that is, one in each of the 44 local government areas in the state. Already we have about 8 Government Technical Colleges in the state, therefore, where we have a technical college; the newly established is for the girls. At the technical colleges for the girls, subjects on electronics are also taught because women are the users of electronics in the homes and this is with the aim of equipping them with the skills of repairing electronics even in the confines of their homes when they marry, so they can become self- reliant.
Over N500m was spent in the construction of the 44 Government Technical Colleges in the state which will be commissioned by next month.
We have Northwest University which is temporarily sited near Kofar Nasarawa. When the school moves to the permanent site, it will be all female Medical Campus and the first in Nigeria. All courses will be taught like it is being done in other universities.
This will encourage parents to allow their daughters to go for higher education.
There is also the first all ladies College, which was opened. It was initially designed to be a hotel with about ten storey building. It will be a girls’ secondary school and the biggest in the country.
The government recently awarded the contract for the building of Girls’ Bilingual Secondary School in Zindar, Niger Republic. I am sure you are aware, that the state government had established a school in Niamey, which is a joint effort of the State Government and that of Niger Republic. The idea is to get more Kano state indigenes to go to Niger republic for their secondary school education. We want our students to learn French language, which will enable them to work anywhere in the world. Nigeria is also surrounded by French speaking nationals or countries.
Secondly, we have over 800 secondary schools and we are supposed to be teaching French language as a subject in those schools but we don’t have up to 200 teachers who can teach French so, we feel the only way we can produce more French teachers in the state is through such joint project, that we have with the Niger republic.
How is the state tackling the challenge of construction of schools, classrooms?
Construction of schools and classroom blocks is a big problem, especially in Kano, which is the most populated state in North West, besides we have over 3 million students in both primary and secondary schools and that is more than the population of Ogun state, and many other states in the country.
In 2011 when the government came on board, we found that there were about 150 to 200 students in a classroom because there were no enough structures to accommodate them, and you know that with 100 students in a class, no serious teaching and learning can take place. That made the construction of classrooms paramount in the state.
Under 3years, the present administration in the state had built over 3,000 classrooms thereby, reducing the number of students in a class but we still need to construct more classrooms. Presently, we need more than 5000 classrooms to bring the number of students in a class to 60, as it should be, to avoid overcrowding and inefficiency in education in Kano.
We decided that all schools that run morning shift, started afternoon shift to reduce the congestion because we believed that if we had more than 60 students in a class room we would be wasting their time. Shifting is not the best option but it is better than having congested classrooms in our schools. Now, we have 60 students per class in both morning and afternoon classes.
To maintain the standard and improve quality of teaching, in the last 3 years, over 10,000 teachers were employed and in the next two weeks 1,228 more will be employed.
This will take care of the shifting system we have introduced which requires more teachers and that will also take care of the additional schools established.
On the issue of teaching materials, all these three go together, that is congestion, teachers, teaching and learning materials. And if anyone of the three is missing we cannot get quality teaching.
Computer as a compulsory subject will be introduced in all secondary schools in the country by next year, and all secondary school students in the country must sit for JAMB computer based examination that same year. This is why we have to get ready to meet the challenges head -on.
Already computers have been purchased and the state government is starting with 100 secondary schools as a pilot scheme, to see how it will work. We have also constructed and equipped 300 laboratories in schools.
The government did this because we found out that our students, who were taught Physics, Biology and Chemistry as subjects in secondary schools, finished from schools without touching even a test tube in a laboratory because there were no laboratories in the schools.
To enhance the welfare of teachers, the state government also built 400 houses for them in the remote areas to take care of house rent.
Last year alone 25,000 primary school teachers, who were long due for promotion were all promoted, this particular act made the state government to be spending additional N200million every month. The state government also gave N100m interest free loan to primary school teachers in the state.
We have also introduced e-learning which we are piloting in government colleges as such, we bought over 100 tablets while over 100 text books were also digitalized in each tablet so that students will have their libraries at home. The good thing about this initiative is that a teacher can give an assignment and students will do them and send them electronically to the teacher.
Nigeria’s reading culture is dying because textbooks are very expensive and not all parents can buy them. The introduction of this tablet will go a long way in addressing a lot of challenges in the sector.
About two weeks ago, a contract worth N250 million was awarded by the government for the purchase of text books for primary school students. We believe we have to give those text books.
If you look at our WAEC result for this year you will see that there is improvement even though it was said that 70 per cent of those candidates who sat for the exam failed, but that is not so with Kano. Since 2011, there has been improvement, especially this year which improvement is about 35 per cent. Last year it was about 32per cent and we expect to get even better. We have started seeing the impact of what the state government is doing to address the education challenges in the state.
The state government is spending more than the UNESC’s approved 26 per cent recommendation from its budget on education, which is why in the last 3 years, the governor established over 25 institutes in the state and 45 out of our students who were sponsored to go to Uganda, to study on scholarships have graduated with first class and the rest got 2nd class upper. For achieving this feat, the VC of the University in Uganda came to Kano to present an award to Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
One of our 100 indigenous students who got government scholarships to study Piloting abroad is a pilot today. One of the measures taken by the state government to ensure that students were kept busy after the federal government postponed resumption date to October was to sponsor a 3-hour educational radio programme, every day for SS 3 students. And to ensure that the students listened to what was taught on the radio, the governor instructed that the SS3 students must write a test as soon as schools reopen to determine what they had learnt.
What is the government doing to address the problem of unqualified teachers, which is one of the problems facing the sector in the state?
Kano has the highest number of unqualified teachers in primary schools and it is one state that has secondary school graduates as teachers. What happened was that the education Secretaries were under the command of the Chairmen, who appointed any one because of political interest but the present governor changed all that and since then no unqualified teacher is in the system. We had over 20,000 of unqualified teachers but six months ago, the state government had arrangement with Federal College of Education Kano, Bayero University Kano, Federal Technical College, Bichi and Sa’adatu Rimi College of Education, Kumbotso to train all unqualified primary school teachers for them to obtain the required qualification. In the next three years, there will not be unqualified primary school teachers in the state.
Recently, the state government employed Diploma holders in Computer science but most of them do not have practical experience, which means they cannot operate Computers so, you can see that we have problems even at the higher institutions level.
How do you hope to sustain those programmes introduced after Kwankwaso’s tenure?
To address that issue, the governor introduced educational development funds which will take care of all the newly introduced educational programmes in the state, and will be remitted from all the 44 local government areas in Kano. Some percentage from what the local government areas get as grant will be set aside, and the state government is giving some amount of money for that purpose.