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‘Kwara pupils shouldn’t suffer in rift over instructional materials’

Parents collect textbooks at the Sen Saraki’s office, Ilorin
Parents collect textbooks at the Sen Saraki’s office, Ilorin

The application of instructional materials to learning has proven to be beneficial to learners but in reality, nearly every teacher and pupil in the public school system is said to be facing the problem of inadequate teaching and learning materials

Interest groups, individuals, communities and parents’ organizations to some extent complement government by providing learning materials to schools to improve pupils achievements.

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In a new twist, however, Kwara State government has seemingly rejected instructional materials worth millions of naira donated to basic schools by a former senator representing Kwara Central, Senatorial District and former Senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki, as part of his constituency projects for 2018.

The government said it rejected the materials because they were emblazoned with pictures and names of Senator Saraki which when distributed, could allegedly promote political cleavages among unsuspecting pupils.

However, an educationist in Ilorin said the materials are meant to improve learning and will not under any circumstances, trick pupils into politics or change their orientation. He said pupils shouldn’t be at the receiving end of political clash between any opposing candidates.

Director of project and empowerment at the Sen. Saraki’s constituency office, Engineer Yinka Otukoko Ibrahim, said the items were for the pupils of schools in Kwara Central Senatorial District which comprises of four local governments areas of Ilorin West, Ilorin East, Ilorin South and Asa.

“We have two types of programmes we are carrying out with the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC). We have what we call school infrastructure development programme and study capacity school development programme.

“Under the school infrastructure development programme, we identified schools in all the LGAs with infrastructure deficit which we did with the LGA offices and sent to UBEC for capturing for respective years. So, we have done constructions in over 170 schools.

“The second one is students’ capacity building where instructional materials come in.

“We have furniture for teachers and students, computer systems and generators to enhance ICT capacity in basic schools. We have supplied science laboratory equipment. All materials are from UBEC, including math kits, customised note and text books and school bags,” he said.

He said the senator conducted needs assessment with education authorities in the LGAs and a list of schools was generated and sent to UBEC before the items were supplied.

Ibrahim however explained that his office was shocked at the statement which directed schools to discard the items based on two reasons.

“One of it was that the process was incomplete because we didn’t pass through the Ministry of Education before distributing the items and the second reason is that it is emblazoned with pictures of Sen Saraki. We gave our explanation that the books were produced by UBEC, a constituted authority to design books for basic schools across Nigeria; on that ground we don’t think there is any need for vetting distribution of the books.

“Then the second argument was that we didn’t pass through the state Ministry of Education. Yes, we didn’t because when we did needs assessment with the LGA offices they were handling basic schools.

“Our expectation was that the LGA offices will discuss with SUBEB knowing that UBEC might have communicated same to their office in Kwara.

“The second issue on Sen Saraki’s pictures on the books, we said the standard thing MDAs do when they do projects for the legislatures and the executives, they emblazon pictures of the facilitators.

“It is the standard they adopted, we didn’t do it here and we are just hearing that Sen Saraki customised his pictures on books and using it for politics but I said no, this is the standard norm that is being done by the MDAs,” he said.

The director appealed to the state government not to politicize the issue saying “we appeal that the materials should be distributed.”

Speaking on the next line of action on the materials, Ibrahim explained that the office has devised means of getting the materials across to the targeted beneficiaries in the constituency.

“Government is still insisting on not accepting them but the materials are actually meant for the people at the grassroots who we think need them to help their children. Parents who have kids in schools have been coming to collect them and once they get to the people I think we are satisfied with that,” he said.

Ibrahim further said there are items without the pictures of Sen Saraki like science lab equipment, furniture and math kits that were also rejected.

It was learnt that some of the item have been distributed to pupils in 240 schools while the remaining ones planned to be shared in the new session are those in the spotlight.

“There is no reason for us to put money into removal of Saraki’s pictures in the books because we were not the ones who produced them; they are from UBEC,” he said.

Director General of Sen. Saraki mandate constituency office, Alhaji Musa Abdullahi, when contacted said the people are very interested in collecting the materials, adding that “virtually every day, we get over 200 people who come to collect the materials.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, in a reaction, said schools will not accept any instructional materials with pictures of any personally.

According to the Press Secretary, Mr Yakub K. Aliagan, the instructional materials distributed to public schools by mandate office of Sen Saraki contained the pictures of the senator. He claimed that the state government was not aware of the distribution of the instructional materials and that the appropriate thing was to send the materials to the ministry which has the statutory duty of vetting learning materials for quality control and approval for distribution, adding that not doing that was a violation of a basic rule.

“Besides, it is wrong for anyone to emblazon their images or personal logos on instructional materials made with public resources for distribution in public schools. The said materials were some sort of constituency projects which have been approved and funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“It is instructive to note that the Kwara State Ministry of Education recently approached Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to mass-produce instructional materials with his picture emblazoned on them ahead of school resumption and the governor rejected the proposal on the ground that there should be no personalisation of projects executed with public funds.

“Flowing from the above, the authorities at the schools were right to have rejected those materials because the ministry was not aware of such and also because there should be no politicisation of education, whether directly or indirectly, especially at the basic level where the children are very impressionable.

“Since the materials had been produced with government funds, we urge the Mandate Office of Senator Bukola Saraki to return them to the Ministry of Education after having replaced the covers emblazoned with personal photographs or political identities,” the press secretary said.

 

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