By Muhammad Garba
When in October, 2017, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state received the Teacher Most Friendly Governor Award by the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), it turns out that the governor actually has a distinguishing pre-qualification as a trained and experienced teacher which must have put him in good stead to know best how to resolve the problems facing teachers coupled with his democratic mandate and executive powers as a governor.
However, it takes more than being a teacher to translate governance into best policies and programmes to correct the ills embedded in administering and managing teachers for a brighter future for education. In fact, neglecting teachers is tantamount to turning education into a liability rather than the precious asset it should be.
Having inherited the sector in shambles with an army of unqualified teachers, their welfare nosediving and staff morale at its lowest ebb, Ganduje had to act swiftly by introducing far-reaching measures to reverse the ugly trend that included construction and renovation of classroom blocks, provision of teaching and learning materials, constant training and retraining of teachers as well as other incentives and welfare packages which have helped to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in the state.
And in furtherance of its commitment to improve the welfare of teachers and boost their optimism, the Ganduje administration has announced plans to construct about 5,000 housing units for teachers in public primary and secondary schools in the state, under the first phase of a scheme aimed at providing decent accommodation for teachers and their families in state.
The administration, in adherence to the United Nations Convention on Habitat, is promoting housing development through public–private sector participation in mass housing schemes for the poor in addition to facilitating a home–ownership scheme for civil servants.
The scheme, tagged Teachers Reserved Area (TRA) will be implemented jointly by the state government, Family Homes Funds and the Federal Mortgage Bank, where each of the 36 rural local governments will have 100 housing units, while the remaining eight metropolitan local governments will have 150 housing units each. Under the arrangement, the state government will also provide the land, auxiliary facilities such as water, electricity and roads while other aspects would be handled by the partners.
The TRT is part of the Ganduje administration’s effort to provide shelter to the teeming teaching population as part of its housing policy that will provide affordable housing to the low-income groups of the state.
Already, the state government has embarked on the construction of first phase of 2,000 affordable houses across the 44 local government areas of the state, which foundation laying ceremony was performed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo in March, 2019.
The state government is partnering with the state council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the construction of 500 housing units for workers at Janguza in Ungogo local government area of Kano state. The NLC should as a matter of fact resolve all outstanding issues with the contractor handling the project for it to continue so that other members of the labour unions could benefit.
The teachers housing initiative is also to complement the state Free and Compulsory Education Policy which has been in effect since September, last year.
Kano state government also recognizes the importance of workers’ productivity to the development and growth of our nation and in order to achieve higher productivity, which is a necessity for inclusive growth and development, and so teachers’ welfare must be given serious consideration and attention, including the provision of with decent and affordable shelter.
The potentials of the housing sector to change lives and engender economic development was too critical to ignore, given the multiplier effects that the sector can engender in terms of job and wealth creation, and the maximization of human potentials for national development and growth as well as to ensuring that the huge housing deficit in Kano state is bridged.
Other teacher motivation and capacity building measures include distribution of 790 Digital Classroom All Inclusive Empowerment Solution and tablets to 728 teachers, 39 master teachers, nine senior secondly school officers and 14 principal officers. The programme was aimed at capacity building towards free and compulsory education on School Development Plan (SDP) and ICT appreciation for directors and zonal education directors.
The state government had in the last three years retrained over 30,000 primary school teachers who lacked the requisite pedagogical skills. Before the intervention, Kano had the highest number of unqualified teachers in the country. The in-service trained teachers graduated in 3 programmes; Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE), Professional Diploma in Education (PDE) and Bachelor in Education (B.Ed).
Recall that 44, 654 teachers in public primary schools were paid over N2.9 billion promotion arrears and allowances of over 44,654 for 2014 /2015/2016/2017, 2014/15 arrears stood at more than N 400 million, while that of 2016 and 2017 is put at N143 million and N126 million respectively.
Also in its commitment to improve the welfare of teachers in the State, Kano state government has elevated 72 Principals to the level of Principal Directors in five batches. Prior to this development, all the 14 Zonal education offices were manned by Deputy Directors but with inception of Ganduje’s administration, these Zones were elevated to Zonal Directorates, which paved way for the heads to become substantive Directors across the State.
Garba is the commissioner for Information, Kano State.