By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
THE sincere commitment toeducation of the present Adamawa State government has brought the ideals of the Universal Basic Education programme to reality as the construction of ultra-modern classroom blocks in primary and junior secondary schools across its 21 local government areas has widened access to basic education.
The massive construction and rehabilitation of schools in the state started in late 2008 following the appointment of Dr. Salihu Girei Bakari as the Executive Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (ADSUBEB).
Bakari, who came to office with a strong determination to ensure that all children of school age have access to quality education, convinced Governor Murtala Nyako of the need to declare a state of emergency in the basic education sub-sector.
It was a period when over 600 primary schools out of the state’s 1,652 had no single habitable classroom, and this situation had a negative effect on the performance of students at the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination with only 2.9% of them having five credits and above last year.
The conditions of the basic schools had deteriorated so much that an enquiry commissioned by Bakari noted that at least N41 billion was needed to put in place facilities and infrastructure in the schools which had suffered neglect by successive governments since 1970s.
The state government then commenced massive release of funds for the rejuvenation of the basic education sub-sector apart from the matching grant of the FG/UBEC intervention funds for which it promptly paid N600m in 2007, N832m in 2008, N531m in 2009 and it is already set to release N534m as 2010 counterpart funds.
The ADSUBEB boss, who bagged a Ph.D degree in 2004 in Gender and Education from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, says of the financial intervention from the state government and UBEC: “Governor Murtala Nyako has demonstrated serious commitment to education by releasing funds severally for basic education sub-sector and has been releasing counterpart fund for the UBEC intervention funds.
We get from UBEC the same amount the state government pays as counterpart fund and we use the fund judiciously, in strict compliance with the laid down guidelines.
With these funds, Bakari has turned around basic schools in the state. According to him, modern classroom blocks, toilets, libraries, computer and science laboratories have been built for 400 schools out of the initial 600 schools that had no classrooms prior to his appointment in September 2008.
In addition, 69 new primary schools have been built and 21 central primary schools have been upgraded to model schools while 21 model primary schools are being built presently, says Bakari, adding that by the end of this year, the state government intends to build between 50 and 60 Model Primary schools spread across the state’s local government areas.
He further discloses: “Also we have been able to rehabilitate over 500 schools and we have drilled 22 boreholes in 22 schools and we guarantee the safety of the water.
Already we have six Boarding Junior Secondary Schools in the state although our plan is to have ten of these schools where everything is free of charge, including feeding except school uniforms which parents are expected to provide. In addition, we have established 150 Day Junior Secondary Schools in the state.
We intend to use the 2010 matching grant to build at least 10 more model primary and junior secondary schools. Last year we spent about N8b on primary and junior secondary schools in the state.”
Quite sure of his accomplishments with respect to the construction of modern primary and junior secondary schools and to show that the state’s emergence as second best in the country in 2007 and the overall best in 2008 in the UBE Good Performance Awards is afterall not a cluke, Bakari personally took education reporters round some of the schools in Yola North, Yola South and Fufore local government areas of the state where some of the primary schools have storey buildings.
In Yola North local government, where over N300m is being spent on building and rehabilitation of schools right now, schools visited include Model Central Primary School, Jimeta; Government Junior Secondary School, Yelwa; Doubeli Primary School and Government Boys Junior Secondary School.
Lamido Lawal Model Primary School, Girei; Greater Yola Junior Boys Secondary School; Wuro Hausa Model Primary School and Shagari Primary School are some of the schools visited in Yola South while visit was also paid to Central Primary School and Government Junior Model Secondary School in Fufore local government area of the state.
The construction of each model junior secondary school costs the state government about N130m.
Enrolment in schools, at least at the basic education level, has kept increasing as the state government encourages the parents to send their children to school by making education free and no school is permitted to collect PTA levy. Every pupil in the state gets core textbooks free of charge, tuition is free and there are supplementary readers in the library.
According to Bakari, about 700,000 textbooks were procured and distributed free of charge to pupils last year while 600,000 textbooks have been distributed this year, adding that there is no school without textbooks.
To encourage girls to go to school, the SUBEB chairman revealed that more female teachers are being employed while provision of free uniforms for girls was introduced last year, costing the state government about N59m. A sum of N60m is expected to be spent this year on the provision of school uniforms for girls.
In addition, the state governor has disclosed his intention to introduce free mid-day meal for all the 400,000 pupils in the state’s primary schools.
The state government is presently spending 45% of its annual budget on education and Dr. Bakari disclosed that Governor Nyako has pledged to devote 50% of its annual budget for 2011 to the education sector with its lion share going to basic education just as the monthly running cost of the state SUBEB was increased from N24m to N45m.
On the Board’s activities in the area of teachers’ capacity development, discipline and enhancement of their welfare, Dr. Bakari says: “Within the last two years, virtually every primary school teacher received one form of training or the other. We have allowed over 400 teachers to proceed on in-service training because we discovered that one of the major problems facing the schools was delivery of knowledge by teachers.
So we trained teachers in pedagogy and methodology. We have spent over N10m for electronic media, especially radio to constantly remind parents and communities of their duty to hold teachers accountable for their actions and inactions.
On teachers’ welfare, Bakari said 6,785 teachers have been promoted since he came on board in 2008, explaining that the last time teachers were promoted or got upgraded upon acquisition of higher qualifications was in 2005.
He says: “To make sure that these teachers are happy, we have been able to upgrade all the teachers who have got higher qualifications.
Also, Adamawa State is one of the few states that has fully implemented 27.5% Teachers Special Allowance and the state was one of the two or three states that fully employed all the 1,200 teachers who participated in the Federal Teachers Scheme”, adding that the 500 FTS teachers presently in the service of the state would be absolved into the state teaching service when they complete their service.
He further said that the state government is set to recruit 3,400 teachers so that the schools will have capable hands to teach.
The SUBEB boss explained that the schools are now closely monitored by inspectors following the release of N300m by the state governor for the purchase of monitoring vehicles. With these vehicles, says Bakari, Education Secretaries now go round all the schools.
“We also employed 241 professional supervisors and we bought motorcycles for all of them and in order to ensure that both the eight vehicles and the motorcycles are well maintained, we decided to increase the monthly running cost of local education authorities by 20%. We also give priority attention to the medical needs of teachers.
Indeed, parents and communities in the state have come to see Bakari as a messiah and have been paying visits to his office to express their gratitude to the “unprecedented revolution” he is carrying out in primary and junior secondary schools across the state.
But Bakari has given the credit to Governor Murtala Nyako and the Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr. Ahmed Modibbo Mohammed for promptly releasing funds for the sundry projects. According to him, Modibbo releases the matching grant without delay as soon as “we pay our counterpart fund”.
“Dr Modibbo listens to superior arguement. He has managed to stamp out corruption in UBEC. Also he is very accessible and he allows states to identify their peculiar needs. He also helps states that are not performing too well.”