By Adamu Muhammad Nababa
The breaking news from the Office of the Honourable Commissioner of Information, Kano State, after the Weekly State Executive Council Meeting of Wednesday, June 2, 2021, was the resolution to deploy 5000 thousand Civil Servants working with other MDAs to the classroom to teach! And the news is still trending.
It is a piece of information that means a lot to many people for different reasons, though. And indeed, it means a lot to the State Government because it seemed to have broken a protracted issue that has stagnated the Civil Service, allowed redundancy and tolerated a huge waste of workforce in the Civil Service.
A solution has seemingly been found at last. Whatever one may think of the resolution, the fact will always remain that it cannot be ignored. The resolution, rightly or wrongly, is timely nonetheless.
I am particularly delighted by the State Government’s concern with the plight of education delivery in Kano State which had suffered neglect; under staffing; poor funding; inadequate infrastructure and equipment for many years.
And when the State Government under the leadership of His Excellency, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR, came up with the idea of Free And Compulsory Education for Primary and Post-Primary Schools in Kano State, I was indeed, so elated.
Inquiries revealed that the State Government has been very concerned with the poor quality of education delivery by looking at the State education index from primary school to the tertiary level. And mooted the idea of a full-blown Free Education Policy from the lower rung of the education system.
The State Government also went out to fund it completely by abolishing all forms of school fees at the lower level and in it’s place, monthly upkeep grants will be given to schools to cater for basic needs of schools. The State Government will also improve students feeding, supply learning materials and equipment to secondary schools, provide school uniform to primary school pupils and books, furniture and other learning materials etc.
For avoidance of doubt, the State Government convened a stakeholder’s conference at Coronation Hall of the Government House where all those who matters to Kano State and education in the world were invited and of course attended. All development partners and supporting nation’s representatives were present.
It was no doubt a sign of huge commitment by the Kano State Government. Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, GCON represented the President while the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, was also at the event.
All former civilian Governors of Kano but one, were present as well as kano elected representatives at the State and National Assembly attended. There was no doubt that Governor Ganduje was determined to save education in the state from total collapse. The occasion was as memorable as it was important and most appropriate.
Just like any policy thrust, the take off was smooth and challenges are expected. The State Government was quick to realize the need to make an assessment as to how the implementation of the Free and Compulsory Education had fared since commencement.
Towards the close of 2020, a very powerful committee at the instance of His Excellency, was inaugurated by the Secretary to the State Government to look at the challenges being faced in the implementation of the policy and to advise the State Government accordingly.
COMPOSITION OF THE COMMITTEE
The Technical Committee on The Challenges Bedevilling Free Education Policy in Kano State was chaired by one of the best the education sector ever had, a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Alhaji Danlami Garba. Three other serving Permanent Secretaries were drafted including the serving Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Hajiya Lauratu Ado Diso as Co-Chair.
There are two Executive Chairmen of SUBEB and KSQISMB. There are three Executive Secretaries of KSSSMB; STSB and SAME. Also included are three Provosts of SRCOE; AKCILS and KSCEPS. There are eight Directors in the Committee, six are serving Directors while two are retired Directors at KSSSMB and AIED of the Ministry of Education.
The Committee also has a Secretariat at the OHCS manned by two dedicated Senior Officers. There is no doubt that the Committee is rich enough to carry out it’s mandate as demanded by State Government.
The Committee, as rightly expected, came up with a revelation that there is redundancy, or otherwise Officers with duplicate functions are found in the Civil Service. From the LGEAs; LGAs; KSSSMB; STSB Zones or Headquarters etc the staffing is in some cases over bloated. While both primary and secondary schools languish in acute shortage of teachers, other trained teachers were found working on schedules they were never trained to do.
Among the recommendations also in public domain made by the Committee include the following:
1. That all Civil Servants with teaching qualifications but (Working at other MDAs) with more than five years to retire should be posted back to either SUBEB; KSSSMB; STSB or any of the State tertiary institution.
2. That all Zonal Headquarters of SUBEB, KSSSMB and Administrative Staff of LGEA should be trimmed down commensurate to their administrative convenience.
3. That all identified Civil Servants having Masters and PhD degrees should be screened for redeployment by the Ministry for Higher Education.
4. That the reintegrated Civil Servants should be given an initial two weeks induction before redeployment to schools and an additional one-week refresher training every school term.
As noted earlier, the Executive Council resolution of deploying Civil Servants to classroom is a breaking news. For sure, it is because in all honesty, may of such officers may never want to go to the classroom to teach, even if they were teachers. And if they do go back, they will never be efficient in the class.
Going by the recommendation that especially those who have teaching qualifications with more than five years left in service will be drafted to the classroom to teach, will create a crisis of confidence among the teachers. The issue of seniority will have to be addressed because classroom teachers, who actually do the teaching job are in lower grades and meant to grow through the ranks.
The two weeks induction training recommended will hardly be adequate to prepare the mindset of someone who has either escaped teaching deliberately or has never taught before to cope with the rigours of teaching, especially in an environment different from what he was accustomed to for several years.
It should also be noted that not all those with higher degrees are interested or even capable of working at the tertiary levels. Moreover, those interested still find their ways to the tertiary institutions through transfer of Service outlet.
THE MISSING LINK
While the Committee deserve commendation for bringing to fore the teacher deficit as a serious challenge to the success of the Free and Compulsory Education in Kano State, it is equally expected to mention two important missing links as follows:
1. Inadequate Funding- Although the nation’s economy is dwindling fast with an added threat of hyper inflation, the funding of the policy is not as consistent as envisioned. Take the case of Monthly School Grant, which forbids schools from collecting school fees and the grants has been always delayed for months on ends, leaving schools without proper maintenance. The provision of student furniture is more or less beyond the schools to provide.
2. Acute Shortage of Teachers- The Five Thousand Civil Servants to be drafted to the classroom will of course help the Government to save cost and fill gaps in the classroom, but the shortage will still be glaring.
Moreover, the State Government may soon discover it is no longer building a teaching career into the populace but recycling of civil servants with its attendant consequence. Their ought to be a recommendation for the Government to recruit teachers for SUBEB, KSSSMB, STSB with NCE or Graduates of Education courses. That is the only way efficiency will be ensured because they will teach with both vigour, excitement and enthusiasm and at the same time grow on a career they have Chosen.
The teacher’s requirement of these Boards needs to be ascertained for Government to be properly advised. KSSSMB alone, I am not sure, but may gulp the whole five thousand and ask for more because of the schools being established and more schools being upgraded to Senior secondary by the MOE to take WAEC, NECO, NBAIS, NABTEB examinations.
In the end, we want the Free Education Policy to succeed. And to succeed, all hands must be on deck to get public support for government by giving a helping hand.
Nababa can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
Very detailed and critical thinking on the subject matter.
This article is do apt. Education sector need more than this with immediate effect. The further the delay the heavier the negetive impact