What is the ratio of girl child enrolment and retention in school in Kano State?
The ratio of girls’ enrolment into schools in Kano State has increased tremendously. When we came on board in 2011, the enrolment figure was just one million but now we have about three million pupils because of the various programmes we introduced in the education sector to attract more children. One of these programmes is the Kwankwasiyya girl child transport system in which government bought buses for transporting female students to their respective schools. Secondly, we have introduced free education for girls and even before this, girls were not paying some fees – in terms of examination and schools fees. Thirdly, in primary schools, pupils are fed free during lunch and are given two sets of school uniforms free to ease the hardship of the parents.
We have also opened 44 technical schools for girls, which mean each local government got one technical college. Each technical college cost government over N175 million. Already, we have about eight technical colleges, so wherever we have a boys’ technical college in a local government, the new one is going to be for the girls. There also are special courses that are going to be taught in these colleges, like electronics. We have chosen electronics as a course for the girls because they are the best users of electronics in their homes. Therefore by the time they learn how to repair electronics they can venture into business by moving to their neighbours’ houses to repair electronics for them.
Fourthly, we have North-West University which is currently operating at a temporary site around Kofar Nassarawa. By the time the university moves to its permanent site, that building would be converted into a female campus. Fifthly, we are constructing special secondary schools along Audu Bako Road for girls that we call First Lady College. All these are being done to encourage girls to go to school.
Similarly, Kano State government, in collaboration with Niger Republic government, has constructed a Bilingual Girls Secondary School in Niamey and we have awarded contract for the construction of another one in Zinder. We need to have our children learn French for at least two reasons. One; because all the countries that share borders with Nigeria are French speaking. And secondly; we need more Kano people to study French so that they can come back to Kano and teach in our secondary schools. In Kano, we have over 800 secondary schools but we have less than 200 French teachers. So very soon we will start sending our girls to Niger Republic to study French. We are also opening a Chinese College in Kano. We have already sent some students to study Chinese so that they can serve as pioneer Chinese teachers in the college. We choose Chinese because we want to improve on the existing business relationship between Kano people and the Chinese. We are also planning for a new programme, Fansar Yar Talla, to discourage girls from hawking.
You can build many schools but if you don’t have adequate teachers they would be a waste; do you have enough teachers in the state?
Construction of many schools and additional classrooms is a very important programme in Kano because of our population. As I have said earlier, we have over three million children in primary and secondary schools. This figure is more than the population of many states in the country so construction of additional schools and classrooms can never be misplacement of priority. In 2011, when this government assumed office, we found that 150 to 200 pupils were been accommodated in a classroom and with that number of pupils in a classroom, nothing can be achieved in terms of teaching and learning. So construction of additional classrooms is needed in Kano. We have so far built over 3,000 classrooms in three years and we still need at least 5,000 additional classrooms to reduce the number of pupils to 60 per classroom. In the interim we are into shifting system that is morning and evening sessions. Although it is not the best thing, but at least it has reduced the number of pupils per classroom to 120, that is 60 for morning and 60 for the afternoon session.
Our plan is to stop the shifting system and this can only be achieved when we build more schools and classrooms. So, as far as Kano State is concerned, construction of additional structures is a major programme because through it we have addressed the problem of congestion in our schools. In three years we have employed over 10,000 teachers and we are planning to recruit about 2,000 additional teachers so that they can help in manning the new schools we have built.
Quality of teachers is another problem that is affecting standards in the education sector. What is government doing about this?
Kano State has the highest number of unqualified teachers in the country. In Kano we had found that we have so many secondary school leavers teaching in our schools. This is happening because of favoritism. The law says NCE leavers should teach in primary school and education secretaries are responsible for the recruitment but they have distorted the system because of favoritism.
When we came on board we discovered over 20,000 unqualified teachers in the state. But instead of disengaging them we made arrangement with higher institutions in the state to train all the unqualified teachers so that they can improve on their service delivery. So in the next three years there will be no unqualified teacher in Kano. In addition to this arrangement, we have employed a number of diploma holders as teachers.
What about teaching and learning materials?
Teaching materials are essential as well, because without them the teachers and the structure we have provided will be a waste. We have spent billions of naira on that. So far we are planning to purchase computers for all our schools because by 2015 students of secondary schools in the country must be computer literate because JAMB examination has been computerised. We have ordered for the computers and other facilities from China. In addition to that, we have selected 100 schools in the state where we have constructed three laboratories and equipped them with modern teaching and learning facilities in each of the 100 schools. In the same vein, school libraries have been constructed and furnished. We are taking another 100 schools every year for this programme.
On teachers’ welfare, government has in the last three years constructed 400 houses in the rural areas to discourage shuttling of teachers from urban to rural areas. Last year, we promoted 25, 000 private schools’ teachers in the state. These are teachers who are for years have not been promoted until now. This programme alone is costing government additional N200 million monthly to take care of the promoted teachers and N100 million interest free loan was provided to teachers in the public schools.
Kano is spending more than 26 per cent of its budgets on education because it is our priority. We have built 24 new institutes in Kano which include Institute of Journalism, poultry, hotel and Institute of Informatics. Government is also sponsoring indigenes of the state to various institutions within and outside the country for studies.