What are the achievements of this administration on higher education in the state in the last two years?
Societies have developed today based on the quality of resources they have and that is dependent on the quality of education they received. So based on these factors, the governor set as his development agenda the issue of education and even prioritized it as his number one, two and three priority in the state. Given also the background on which the administration’s coming from, the rate of youth disorientation, disenchantment and the level of political thuggery, he felt there was need to give these youth a new focus, orientation and a new life to which they can live on.
And that can only be achieved if education is provided for them. Here in the Ministry of Higher Education we implemented this policy direction. The first thing we did was to see how we can mop up the youth and provide a new direction to them which we embarked on a remedial programme in partnership with University of Maiduguri. One thousand students were admitted—500 in the sciences and 500 in arts. Government shouldered all the responsibilities ranging from buying of foam to payment of all registration fees, and at the end of the day over 50% of the students secured admission into various universities for their degree programmes.
As a means to finding lasting solutions to the problem of education in the state, the Gombe State University was expanded to accommodate the growing increase in the number of students. These include the building of more students’ hostel and establishment of additional programmes. We have also established our own two remedial schools in Kumo which will accommodate about 3,000 students.
These schools will serve as a feeder to all the higher institutions we have in the state. While students are undergoing a remedial programme, they will also be learning at least a trade that will give them opportunity of becoming self reliant even if they don’t want to continue with their education. The advantage here is that at the end of their one-year programme a student will be able to learn at least a trade. During holidays they can use the trade they have learned to make money for themselves and this will reduce dependent on their parents.
Why emphasis on remedial schools instead of establishing polytechnics to cater for the vocational needs of the students?
We have a polytechnic coming on board. The remedial school is based on the decay in education over the years. As at 2010 we had about 18,000 students that sat for NECO exams in the state and out of this number only 19 were able to get the required five credits including maths and English to be able to proceed to university.
What is the situation now two years since the assumption of office of this government?
We are able to provide infrastructure, qualitative teachers and more schools were established in the last two years. All these are steps taken to address the deteriorating level of our education in the state. Initially there was lack of interest on the part of the students; they were in hurry to finish school so that they can be employed as Kalare boys. Their aim then was just to finish secondary school; there wasn’t any motivation of becoming somebody in future. The dream of becoming a productive and responsible member of the society was not there.
But with our coming on board we try to disabuse their minds and made them concentrate on their studies, which is why they are in school. We provided motivation and conducive environment for learning because the environment is important in imparting knowledge.
We have also set up a college of education in Billiri. People will wonder why setting up a college of education in Gombe while we have federal college of education. The issue is that the federal college of education in Gombe is technically based. What we are establishing in Billiri is a conventional college of education that will have the technical, science and also humanities.
The college is expected to train teachers for the state to meet up with the minimum teaching requirements. We discovered that there are lots of teachers on ground who have been teaching for quite a number of years but they are still using their secondary school certificates, not able to further their education due to one reason or the other.
And going by the national policy of education these types are supposed to be phased out of the system because the minimum requirement to teach is the National Certificate of Education (NCE). In addition there are teachers with NCE who have not gone further, but with the college of education, they will do that with ease.
And apart from the college of education we are also building a polytechnic in Bajoga. We have technical and vocational colleges which will serve as a feeder to the polytechnic.
We are also leveraging on the fact that we have Ashaka Cement here in Bajoga so they can also complement the effort of the government by training their own staff and also providing opportunity for the students to do their industrial training and other things to have the industrial experience. At the end of the day we will be able to match theory and practical aspect to have sound graduates from our polytechnic that can work anywhere in the world.
Apart from that we also have the college of legal and Islamic studies coming up in Nafada. The college will serve as a training ground for people in the state which will ultimately help in the dispensation of justice. The Islamic aspect will provide a room for a more organized and learned Islamic scholars. The school for Arabic college will served as a feeder to the college. That will also provide teachers who are going to teach in the new Tsangaya system of education.
We are also working assiduously on the expansion of the Gombe State University. We are building school of medical sciences. In the whole of the North-East, only University of Maiduguri runs courses in medical sciences.
The government is expanding in the health sector so we need manpower to be able to man the sector and that informed the expansion and building of the school of medical sciences of the university.
We are working on building the clinical aspect of the college near the Federal Medical Centre, Gombe. We have signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Federal Medical Centre for it to serve as a training ground for the medical doctors and that we hope will help in training of qualified medical personnel for the state and the country at large.
Apart from all these government has also entered into arrangements with some national and foreign institutions to train indigenes of the state. Under this arrangement; the state government is sponsoring 20 students to study Marine Engineering in Effurun, Delta State, India and Scotland. It is also sponsoring 50 students to study medicine and medical sciences in Cuba, India, Ukraine, Georgia, Bulgaria and Egypt. Another set of 30 students are to study Mining Engineering in Ghana and China to enable us exploit available mineral resources in the state and the nation at large.