By M.L. Ismail
It is an undisputable truism that education is the bedrock of development. This is why education remains the best legacy anyone would bequeath his child or the generation next. But these would only be mere sayings if the sector is left tainted and unattended to.
Accordingly, Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo’s administration in Gombe State has remained focused and committed to giving this all important sector its pride of place in the scheme of developmental activities since inception on May 29, 2011.
To be in firm control of the wheel therefore, the administration decided to make education above all other things its first, second and third priority. The desire is to confront and peel off the scales of rust that has encased the state’s education sector over the years.
With the contending issues of the Governor’s intention on one side and the miserable year in year out below par school certificate examinations results, the administration wasted no time in swinging into action as recommended by the committee set up to look at the problems besetting the education sector in the state.
Part of the recommendations of that committee was the need for a stopgap measure to get back on track the education dream, hope and aspirations of the majority of the state’s public senior school certificate graduates who were already made despondent by the inability to break the jinx of passing the almighty Joint Matriculations Examination (JME).
That recommendation birthed the Gombe State Government collaboration with the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) to run a pilot remedial programme for 1,000 students, having identified that the students who left secondary school but failed to obtain the entry point into universities and polytechnics required remediation.
Under the Gombe State/UNIMAID arrangement, students are absorbed into the university system but study in Gombe where they are tutored/guided by the institution’s staff and electronically write the same entrance examination as their colleagues on campus.
“Whoever makes JAMB cut-off score of 200 points and above as well as passes the entrance examination will be given automatic admission into any course of his/her choice,” explained the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Professor Mala Daura when he visited Gombe to oversee the students and conduct of the programme recently.
Those who pass the remedial examination but fall short of the required UME cut-off score of 180 will be given another opportunity while the results are maintained. For those that cannot pass both the remedial and JAMB entrance exams on the other hand, the university has undertaken to introduce diploma and other certificate courses into which they will be absorbed.
“So it is one of the youths programmes that we have introduced and will sustain till the time when the pressure of solving the problem of this category of people is reduced. So the conclusion is that it will be a continuous programme and as soon as the exams are over, sales of new forms will commence,” assured Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo while commenting on the issues of education in the state.
He also used the opportunity to hint that under the same partnership strategy, the state government will roll out a similar programme in conjunction with the University of Kashere strictly for English Language and Mathematics.
But this agenda is only a precursor to a grand arrangement with the Gombe State University which is also designed to follow the same collaborative dimension. What makes this more interesting is that it will not only remediate the Senior Secondary School graduate in preparation for tertiary education, it will also remediate the JSS and then do a full remedial for them in readiness for entry into a university or polytechnic.
At the stage of the full remedial course, the Dankwambo administration realised that there could be some students that may not want to proceed with education. Such people will proceed to undergo training on trade, a business, a profession or a vocation in the school. “Before the take-off of that school, we felt there was need for immediate intervention so that we don’t leave a gap,” said Dankwambo.
In furtherance of the Talban Youth Empowerment Programme through education, the Governor has begun the process of establishing a state owned college of education at Billiri, headquarters of Billiri local government area with the ultimate aim of training teachers for the state’s educational system.
On almajiri and nomadic education, trust the Governor’s painstaking intelligence quotient because he has that already well thought out. The well equipped four vocational training centres spread across the three senatorial districts of the state have churned out 320 youths on seven trades with the plan to increase the trades to 13 and have more centres with over 500 intakes in the subsequent batch.
M. L. Ismail writes from Bolari Quarters in Gombe Metropolis.