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How infrastructural decay affects basic education in rural Kano

Basic infrastructure at the basic level of education in some villages and rural areas in Kano State are in a state of total decay, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.

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Investigation by our reporter who went to some schools in the three senatorial districts of the state indicate that infrastructure such as classrooms, laboratories, workshops, sporting facilities, equipment and libraries are not only non-existent, but even the few on ground are in a state of rot.

Gawo Primary School in Gezawa Local Government Area has an extensive land mass capable of accommodating even a boarding secondary school. However, Primaries 1 and 2 pupils and children of Early Education and Child Care (EECC) class sit under trees. The school has only four blocks of classrooms out of which two have collapsed, one is dilapidated and the last barely manageable.

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The dilapidated block of two classrooms accommodates Primaries 3 to 6 pupils. Primaries 3 and 4 pupils are merged in the first class while Primaries 5 and 6 pupils are sit in the other. All the classes have no furniture.

The manageable block in the school was given to students of a junior secondary school (JSS) that was created in the ward last year. The primary school had no option than to provide somewhere for the JSS students. Therefore, the JSS was given the block of two classrooms which also has no furniture.

At the moment, first year students of the secondary school sit on the floor while second year students are lucky to have few tables and chairs fabricated locally from a big tree which stood in the school compound.

The Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of the school paid for the fabrication and they are building a toilet for the school as there is none right now. The principal, headmaster and their staff jointly use a small office accommodation.

A source in the school told our reporter that there were more than 200 pupils in the EECC and primary that received lessons under trees. Now that the harmattan has begun, they don’t come to school. According to the source, stable learning activities would no longer be possible as even after the harmattan, rains frequently interrupted classes.  

Further investigation revealed that the PTA and the School Based Management Committee (SBMC) provide some of the books needed for effective teaching, but there are no sporting facilities.

Similarly, the Village Head of Gawo, Alhaji Umar Yusuf, said they complained severally about the condition of the school and they were hopeful that government would address the situation soon.

He said, “We have started talking to indigenes of this ward that are well to do to come and assist us. The government should also come forward to address the terrible condition of the school even if what they can do does not meet our expectations.”

Muhammad Lawan, a father who has about 10 children in the school, said the pupils were sometimes not keen about coming to the school as they grumbled over sitting in the open.

On his part, Alhaji Abdu Ali, one of the PTA members of the school, said the school had completely collapsed and that they had done their best to call the attention of government.

He said, “We met with members representing this local government in the House of Representatives and the Kano State House of Assembly, Musa Ado and Isyaku Ali Danja, respectively, to either renovate the school or assist us to talk to the relevant authorities, but they have not.”  

At another school, Gandu Model Primary School, Ketawa Ward, in the same Gezawa Local Government Area, has over 800 pupils. 

The school has three blocks of two classrooms which are in bad condition. Whenever it rains or when it is sunny, no learning activity takes place. There are no windows in the classes, the roofing is scattered and both teachers and pupils do not have furniture.

One of the teachers in the school said they had liaised with the school’s PTA and provided sitting mats for the pupils through joining Bagco bags, but that the mats had been messed up due to long usage, but that they were planning to sew new ones.

The teacher said the PTA also provided drugs, chalk and other necessary teaching materials.

“We have written a number of letters to the local education authority but the only answer we are getting is that we should exercise patience as government would collate end of the year report from schools. Even the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) also intermittently sends us questionnaires asking about the condition of the school but we have not seen anything from them,” he lamented.

Daily Trust on Sunday observed that the school has good fencing and a hand pump borehole with clean water running.

The situation in some schools our reporter visited in Karaye Local Government Area, in the southern part of the state, is not different. For example, Namaje Primary School is not more than three kilometres away from the local government headquarters but the condition of the school is pitiable. 

The school has about 450 pupils with only a functional block of two classrooms which accommodates four sets. The other block in the school, which has two classrooms, a staffroom and headmaster’s office, has collapsed but is being managed to house primaries 1 and 2. 

EECC pupils receive lessons in the open under a tree while eight available teachers in the school use a long wooden chair under another tree as office. Our reporter gathered that there was a time the school’s PTA proposed to build a classroom with mud blocks.

A source said the teachers provided teaching materials, including class registers and chalk, in view of the fact that government did not provide any to the school this term.

The school has an area set aside for sports but there are no sporting facilities. However, although it has no source of water, the school has good toilet facilities built by a non-governmental organisation.

Amadu Abdullahi Magajin-Gari, a resident of the village, commended the teachers for their contribution towards the continued existence of the school.

“The teachers are very supportive but the local government is not helping us in anyway. The school has no infrastructure and it has no security,” Magajin-Gari said.

Haruna Mujittafa, one of the Primary 2 pupils in the school, said they received lessons in the sun, adding that, “Any time it rains; that is the end of the day’s lessons.”

Basiru Ado, another pupil in the school called on government to build an upstairs school for them as built at the local government headquarters.

The immediate past Governor of the state, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, built such schools Ado referred to in each of the 44 local councils of the state. However, our reporter observed that it is difficult to see any of such schools in hard-to-reach or remote villages. They were built in the local government headquarters and along major roads in the state.

Although Husama Primary School, Kafin Danga Ward, in the same local government area has some infrastructural challenges, it has a block renovated by the local council in 2012. The major challenge of the school is shortage of teachers. There are only two teachers in the school, a headmaster and one teacher, to take care of 372 pupils. The teachers were two but the second one was recently transferred to another school.

The problem of teachers’ shortage at the school led some parents to take the pain of shuttling their kids from the village to Karaye town for the basic education at a private primary school, a journey of about 10 kilometres.

The Ward Head of Husama, Junaidu Sa’adu, called on government to address the teachers’ shortage in the school, adding that there were some schools in the local government headquarters with more than 15 teachers. Sa’adu, who has a Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE), regularly offers voluntary service in the school.

Some schools in a number of villages of Tsanyawa Local Government Area were also visited by our reporter. The local government shares border with Katsina State in the North. Although there was little intervention from non-government organisations in the schools, they still have their peculiar challenges. 

At Sallawa Taka Tsaba Primary School, a block of two classrooms was renovated early this year by Global Partnership for Education (GPE) in conjunction with the Nigerian Partnership for Education Project (NIPEP). The GPE project, according to its website, was established in 2002 as a multi-stakeholder partnership and funding platform that aims to strengthen education systems in developing countries in order to increase the number of children who are in school and learning. While the NIPEP is a World Bank project aimed at improving access and quality of basic education in selected states, with particular attention to girls’ participation.

Sporting facilities and some tables for Primaries 3 and 4 pupils were also provided through the GPE/NIPEP intervention but there are still many pupils sitting on the floor in the school and a collapsed block of two classrooms.

Faruk Ahmad, an indigene of the area, said water scarcity was another major problem of the school as the pupils usually left the school in search of water in nearby houses. He said parents were assisting the school with drugs and brooms through SBMC.

Yakanawa Primary School in Zarogi Ward is another school that received the intervention of the GPE/NIPEP. The school does not have any dilapidated infrastructure at the time of our reporter’s visit, but it has problems of learning equipment and water. The pupils, according to a source, had to trek a long distance to get water from a stream which may be impure.

An article published by Daily Trust on December 3, 2016, reported how classes were took place under trees in Shara, a community in Sumaila Local Government Area.

The nearest primary school in the area, according to the report, is located in the neighbouring village of Matigwai, which is more than five kilometres from the community, separated by a rocky stream which overflows during the rainy season.

In his speech during the Education Week organised by the state government in February, 2017, to address challenges of basic education, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje lamented the condition of the education sub-sector in the state.

He said, “As at May, 2015, there were only 25,000 habitable classrooms out of the 30,000 available, whereas the total requirement in our public primary schools is 45,000 classrooms. Similarly, there are only 18,000 toilets as against the total requirement of 35,000, while three-seater pupils’ desks are only 198, 832 as against the needed of 914,000. In addition to all these, instructional materials are inadequate while staff morale is at its lowest ebb, and as matter of fact, about 50 per cent of the teachers are unqualified.”

However, the governor, as reported by Kano Chronicle, said the state government had accessed N1.75bn as UBE counterpart funds from UBEC. He said the money was spent in renovation of classroom blocks, building of libraries, drilling of boreholes and provision of furniture for 15, 000 pupils.

On its part, the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) said 240 upstairs classrooms were under construction across the state to improve infrastructural condition of the primary schools.

The board, according to its Secretary, Muhammad Sani Uba Shiye, said there was not much problem in provision of teaching materials as it had partnered with the Educational Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) which provided a lot of lesson plans and textbooks for the primary school teachers.

He said, “When we pay attention to the construction of classrooms and provision of teaching materials, we expect communities to participate in the area of carrying out a little bit of work to ensure that the level of dilapidation in our primary schools is minimised. That is why we emphasised that there must be SBMC in our primary schools so that parents can come in and contribute their quota in improving the standard of basic education.”

This story is sponsored by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, supported by MacArthur Foundation.

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