Education stakeholders in the North-East geopolitical zone of the country have advocated strict implementation of the National Policy on Education (NPE) to tackle the myriad challenges facing the education sector.
The stakeholders particularly attributed the infrastructure decay in public schools to the failure of key actors in the education sector to adhere to the guidelines listed in the NPE.
They told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a recent survey that all stakeholders should demonstrate the political will to salvage and develop the nation’s education sector.
They stressed that private sector organisations, community development associations and affluent individuals should strive to support efforts to improve the schools.
In Adamawa, Dr Abdulmumin Muhammad, the Dean of the Faculty of General Education, Federal College of Education, Yola, noted the lack of political will to implement the NPE was a major factor hindering the development of the education sector.
Muhammad urged the government to pay serious attention to education at all levels, saying that all government schools were particularly facing serious challenges because of inadequate funding.
Also speaking, Dr Sulaiman Hamman, an education consultant, said that government alone could no longer afford to provide quality education to all citizens, in view of the current economic realities in the country.
He underscored the need for the collective participation of the private sector, communities and wealthy individuals in efforts toward effective education delivery in the country.
Hamman noted that the current state of the country’s education sector was disturbing as a result of inadequate funding, poor management and low quality of teachers as well as dearth of instructional materials and educational infrastructure.
However, Mr Julius Kadala, the Adamawa State Commissioner of Education, said that the state government was making efforts to address some of the major challenges facing the educational sector in the state.
He said that as part of the measures to address the situation, the state government had declared state of emergency on education.
“Since the declaration of state of emergency in the education sector in the state two years ago, significant achievements have been recorded.
“The state government, in collaboration with the Federal Government, UNICEF (UN International Children’s Emergency Fund) and other organisations, had reconstructed and renovated many schools that were destroyed by the Boko Haram insurgents.
“Also, instructional materials such as science laboratory equipment and books as well as other relevant teaching and learning materials were distributed to many schools across the state ” he said.
Nevertheless, Mr Danladi Usman, a former Secretary of Adamawa Branch of Parents Teachers Association (PTA), bemoaned the dearth of instructional materials in government schools across the state.
He said that during the last annual general meeting of the association in December 2017, the government’s attention was drawn to the problem and other challenges facing public schools but nothing was done to rectify the situation.
“In some government schools, especially schools in rural areas, teachers and students are responsible for buying chalks and other teaching or learning materials,” Usman said.
Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Emanuel Ande, a social commentator, stressed that the teaching and learning conditions in government schools in the state were not good.
He stressed that in several primary schools across the state; the pupils were still learning and having their classes under the shade of trees.
Ande, who noted the proliferation of private schools in the state, said that most of the schools’ proprietors were only eager to make profits and not ready to support government in efforts to provide quality education.
“Nowadays, majority of the private schools are not different from business centres because the owners established the schools just to make money and nothing else,” he added.
Malam Yahya Idris, a primary school teacher in Gombi Local Government Area, said that the poor conditions of service for teachers and the lack of teachers’ supervision were some of the challenges facing education delivery in both public and private schools.
All the same, Alhaji Abdullahi Yapak, the Chairman of the Committee on Education, Adamawa State House of Assembly, said that the House was looking into ways of regulating the operations of private schools to ensure excellence.
Yapak said that a bill on the extension of retirement age for primary and secondary schools teachers as well as other incentives for teachers had passed the second reading in the House.
In Bauchi State, Mr Ahmed Zailani, the Secretary of Bauchi State School-Based Management Committees (SBMCs), stressed the need for the re-training of teachers so as to raise the standard of education in the state.
“The present administration has tried a lot by renovating dilapidated classrooms, although the provision of furniture is still low.
“The distribution of teachers has been a problem too, as some schools in remote areas still operate with one teacher who doubles as headmaster and class teacher and so on.
“This is because most teachers want to serve in urban areas and as such, pupils in the rural neighbourhoods are deprived of their right to quality education,” he said.
However, Mr Abdullahi Mohammed, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), said that recently, the state government promoted more than 23,000 teachers.
Mohammed said that more than 3,000 teachers were also trained between 2015 and 2016.
He said that SUBEB had received 1,106 computer sets under the School Meet the Learners Approach (SMLA), a project of UNESCO.
Mr Dauda Chiroma, the Project Manager of Communication Information Technology Development (CITAD) in Bauchi State, nonetheless, expressed displeasure at the dilapidated structures of schools across the state.
He said that in spite of funding by Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), most schools in the state were in a dilapidated state, as the pupils now undertook their schoolwork under harrowing conditions.
Mrs Fatima Abubakar and Mr Ishiaku Ladan, both parents, said that most of the schools lacked qualified teachers and facilities like libraries and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment
In Gombe State, the Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (ANGOS) has appealed to Gov. Ibrahim Dankwambo to introduce some perks for teachers posted to the rural areas in order to motivate them.
The Chairman of ANGOS, Malam Ibrahim Yusuf, said that the proposed motivation would entice teachers, who were hitherto unwilling to work in rural areas, to develop interest in teaching in those areas and even put in their best.
He said that Dankwambo had given priority attention to the development of the education sector in the state, adding, however, that the desired goals had yet to be achieved.
Yusuf said that although the state government had renovated some schools, while constructing new ones, the efforts had not provoked a perceptible improvement in the standard of education in the state.
“The initial plan was to place 40 pupils in a classroom so as to create an atmosphere that is conducive to learning but currently, we are having 80 pupils per classroom.
“Even the instructional materials are not available in the schools,’’ he said.
Mrs Rhoda Musa, an educationist, underscored the need for the government to look for a way of rewarding dedicated teachers, saying that such incentives would go a long way to improve the standard of education.
On his part, Alhaji Salisu Zakar, the Chairman of Jigawa State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), said that there were 17,542 teachers in the primary and junior secondary schools of the state.
He added that while 12,983 were primary school teachers, 4,559 others were teaching in junior secondary schools across the state.
He said that the board had organised various re-training exercises for the teachers to enable them to update their teaching skills.
Zakar said that the board had supplied textbooks and other instructional materials to primary and junior secondary schools across in the state.
He said that the board now undertook regular supervision visits to the schools to ensure that the teachers were living up to their expectations.
“We don’t tolerate teacher absenteeism; we also make sure that teachers prepare their lesson plans in line with the syllabus and scheme of work before they engage in teaching,” he said.
In Yobe, Alhaji Kaku Saleh, a parent, told NAN that several schools, which had been established in Damaturu as far back as 1979, had hitherto been in a derelict state.
“I was surprised at the ongoing renovation of students’ hostels, classrooms, laboratories and staff quarters at Government Secondary School, Yunusari, and Government Girls Secondary School, Nguru, when l visited the schools.
“More impressive are the new furniture provided for the schools and the equipping of their laboratories because these schools, which were established about 39 years ago, have not enjoyed any form of renovation until now,’’ he said.
Sharing similar sentiments, Malam Aliyu Dan’Azumi, a retired teacher, commended the state government for the schools’ rehabilitation and the provision of instructional materials for schools across the state.
He, however, grumbled about the quality of teachers who were employed in the state.
“It is very unfortunate that most of the teachers are university graduates who do not have basic knowledge of the methodology of teaching” he said.
Malam Ibrahim Gidado, an official of an international organisation, noted that most schools in Damaturu were overcrowded and attributed the development to the Boko Haram insurgency.
“Some of the displaced persons have not returned to their villages; they are currently residing in different communities, thereby increasing the school population in their host communities.
“The increase in the student population is, however, without a corresponding expansion of the school facilities and an increase in the number of teachers.
“The state government has tried a lot to improve education but the challenges are numerous, and these include paucity of resources,” Gidado added.