You have spent all your service years as primary school teacher. How did it all start?
First of all my name is Alhaji Ali Aminu Giginyu popularly known as Baba Ali. I joined the teaching profession in 1977. I was first posted to Takai Local Government Area. A year after, the headmaster I was working under recommended that I should be appointed headmaster and within the same year I was upgraded to the status of headmaster and posted to Magarawa Primary School in Minjibir Local Government Area. I was serving as headmaster up till the time I retired in 2012. However, from 1978 to 2012 I supervised 12 different primary schools in Minjibir LGA.
As I have said earlier, I started from Magarawa Primary School and later moved to Zabainawa-Inusa where I spent five years and to Ka-ci-Shirwa primary school for another five years before I was transferred to Azore Primary School and later to Dauni primary school. These are some of the places where I worked in Minjibir Local Government Area.
How would you compare teaching then and now?
Well, to be honest with you the entire system has changed. No commitment and political will on the part of government and the attitude of teachers and the community towards primary education is terribly bad. In fact, teaching in the past was far better than in the present time. In those days, teachers were among the respected persons in the society. The pupils respected them, the parents too and so also the rest of the community.
I have been a headmaster for 34 years, and therefore I am speaking from experience. There is no way the community can make a decision without the input of a headmaster; the community was carrying him along in everything concerning them but today it isn’t like that. Unless you are good in gossiping about your colleagues, you will not enjoy what you deserve from either the government or the community itself. You will not be promoted or selected for a course, seminar, training or workshop until you bribe your inspectors, or a politician fought for you. If you can do that then you can get all you want whether you work or not but during our time you can only get all these through hard work and commitment to duty. If you are due for promotion you will be promoted, if you deserve to go for training or course you will be sponsored. And because of the commitment and the zeal we have for the job even headmasters used to teach in the class but today you can hardly see them teaching. Rather they sit in their offices doing nothing.
Why is the peoples’ attitude towards teaching changing?
Well, I think the teachers, government and indeed the community have contributed towards deteriorating of primary education system. First, the teachers are not sincere in their jobs; they come to work when they wish and close for the day at anytime. They don’t value their job and therefore they don’t bother to teach. Most of them joined the profession for the salary. Second, the government too is not helping matters for not regarding the teachers as important figures in the society. No good salary package, no incentives, no motivation and in fact no welfare. In addition to this the atmosphere provided for them to work is terrible; no facilities such as chairs, books, tables and other teaching materials. And in some cases even the structures of the school are not conducive for learning and you can have 180 to 200 pupils in a single class when under normal circumstance a class should have only 45 to 50 pupils, so how can the teachers teach under these circumstances? Third, the community has automatically neglected primary teachers. The community is no longer regarding them as important pillar in the society; they are not carried along in decision making and no one cares about progress.
In your own opinion, how can primary education system be improved?
First of all government should review the issue of recruitment because most teachers are not qualified. Most of those recruited from 2007 to date are not qualified. They only got their offers through their godfathers. So government should fish out the unqualified and send them for basic training so that they can learn how to teach better. Government should provide more qualified teachers because the sector still needs more teachers. We have schools where you can get only three teachers and a headmaster and the school has about 800 pupils. If not for some Parent Teachers Associations employing teachers, some primary schools would not operate in Kano State. I know of a school where only the headmaster comes to work; no teachers and no pupils.
Are you regretting having served as a primary school teacher?
No. I never regret been a primary school teacher in my life. In fact I am proud being a teacher because handling pupils to me is a blessing; not everybody can do it. So for you to handle them for the period of 35 years I think is something that you can be proud of. But of course there was a time I fell sick and primary school pupils were taking their common entrance examination then so I could not take my students to their center and because of that I was demoted. That was my unforgettable experience in my 35 years in service. Fortunately, I also had a joyful experience when some inspectors paid an unscheduled visit to my school in Magarawa village. I was holding extra class at that time and because of that I was transferred to Zabainawa-Inusa primary school which is closer to the main road and I was happy.
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