The widening teachers gap in Jigawa state has reached an alarming level capable to create perpetual illiteracy in the state.
The present state government has declared education as its strategic pillar for Socio-economic Reform Agenda hinged on its belief in the fact that “the most valuable of all capital is that which is invested in human development, but acute shortage of teachers seems to be retarding the policy from achieving the desired goals.
Over the years, governments in the state have been coming up with difference policies programs and projects to revitalize the state education sector but the result were futile.
Most of the programs and projects paid more emphasis on the infrastructural development, payment of teachers’ salaries and other entitlements while little attention is given to teachers’ quality and recruitment.
In the early morning of every working days, if you stay by any road in the cities or villages across the state you will glimpse hundreds of pupils and students of senior schools rushing to reach their classrooms on time.
The enthusiasm of the students to acquire knowledge that would shape their ability to confront future challenges and get through for a successful life is quite visible in the students faces and moral determination.
Despite the current social and economic challenges, parents in the state at rural and urban areas are always struggling to fulfil their mandate on education by enrolling their children into schools and provide them with other required support, but the effort is tantamount to be in vain due to the dearth of teachers in the state.
Most of the schools across the state are empty, only with students and structures.
It is generally believing that, place can only be called school when there are two major components, they are, students and teachers, due to the fact that in the absent of any one, learning could not take place there.
It is quite amazing how the school feeding program and other international, National, state and community intervention impetus increase the number of school enrolment across the state.
In an unusual manner, the Chairman Nigeria Union Of Teachers, Jigawa State Chapter, Comrade Abdulkadir Yunusa have recently decried the situation, describing the teaching and learning condition in the state as very sympathetic.
He said, the Coronavirus pandemic has also aggravated the condition of learning and teaching in the state, he maintained that, as schools resume after 7 month of closure it will be very difficult for schools to abide by the NCC protocol particular on the social distance in the classes.
The Comrade stated that, shortage of teachers and in adequate facilities (classrooms) are the main challenges facing education in the state.
Being a critical stakeholder in the state education sector, he narrated that, between 2016 -2019 over 7,000 teachers were retired while less than three thousand were recruited within the period, also coupled with population increase and school enrolment, the situation need a quick intervention from government and public.
In their submission through their Vice Chairman, Comrade Ayuba Muhammad, Partnership for Transformation Education (PTE) in Jigawa state, expressed appreciation on timely payment of teachers’ salary and other entitlements.
But PTE expressed concerned on the teaching and learning condition in the state, saying that, the acute shortages of teachers, classroom and quality teachers poise threat to future of the state.
PTE revealed that, according to the data they obtained from State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB), the teachers aggregate shows that, there are about 600 primary schools that have only one teacher.
“If you have only one teacher in a school, which subject is he going to teach and how many classes can he teach in a day? “
“However, beside the teachers’ gap, most of the classes have 90 -100 pupils per class. the environment is not conducive for learning at all”
Comrade Ayuba added that, lack of training and retraining of teachers also made thousand of teachers to be left behind in terms of modern techniques of teaching and learning and this consequently made the state to have poor performance in WAEC and NECO exams.
He maintains that, for education to improve in Jigawa, these critical challenges must be addressed.
The emphases by the state government on infrastructural development can also be seen in 2020 Third Quarter Budget Implementation Report in which about N9.8 billion was expended on various capital projects and programs in the state education sector. This include the establishment of new schools including 59 Early Child Education Centres, 4 Primary schools and 8 Junior Secondary Schools.
The outputs also include the construction of 178 blocks of new classrooms, renovation of 599 blocks of classroom, procurement of about 30,000 classroom furniture, construction of 55 blocks of VIP latrines, repairs of 5,000 sets of classrooms furniture and 2,000 beds for Boarding Primary Schools.
These contributed to the complete upgrading of 280 Schools at the Basic Level making them fully functional and effective in line with the state ” Education Change Agenda”.
At the tertiary level, the state was able to access about N2.5 billion from TET Fund in addition to direct State treasury Funding. This was expended largely on the improvement of infrastructure & facilities.
Base on the available data, the state has in the last five years succeeded in constructing 6,924 classrooms, 512 toilets, and supply of 212,302 classroom furniture under Basic and Post-basic levels.
These led to the establishment of additional 337 Primary Schools, 130 Junior Secondary Schools, 271 Early Childhood Care Development Education and 561 Islamiya classroom Blocks.
Also, at the tertiary level, the state succeeded in putting additional student hostels, resources centers, staff quarters and libraries. While at the State University, we have completed the Senate Building, Vice Chancellors lodge and 60 Units of Staff Houses.
These interventions coupled with other policies such as supply of free school uniforms, home grown school feeding, implementation of BESDA and Global Partnership for Education Programs have also resulted in appreciable increase in enrolment which is expected to exceed 1.2 million in the by 2021.
The state 2021 appropriation bills presented to the state House of Assembly shows how the state plans to maintain its massive investment in the education sector.
According to the budget, education and health received the allocation of almost 50% of the total budget amounting to N78.25bn in which Education sector received 36.4% while health 13.5%.
The amount earmarked for Personnel Cost includes provisions for staff promotions, annual increments and recruitments in critical arrears particularly in the education and health sectors.
With regards to health sector, the budget has specifically mentioned the number of permanent staffs to be recruited while for education sector it only mentions the provision for J-Teach under which the state plans to engage up to about four thousand unemployed tertiary education graduates with a minimum of NCE Certificates.
The J- Teach or what ever nomenclature it is called, the program is simply going to recruit temporary teachers.
As at the time the state enrolment is expected to reach 1.2 million by 2021 academic school calendar, coupled with the existing over 600 schools with only one teacher each and massive retirement of over 7,000 teachers, can temporary measures rescue the state education sector?
Currently Jigawa state is among the states of the federation with low level of literacy and poor examination results despite the billions of Naira sunked in the state education sector over the years.
Government, key stakeholders and general public must wake-up and hasten to proffer solution to the decades problem, these must include massive recruitment of qualified graduates and the recruitment process must be devoid of any political prejudice.