As educational stakeholders in Yobe State have met sometime back, precisely on Wednesday, June 19 this year in Damaturu, the capital of the state to proffer solutions to the emergency declared on primary and secondary education in the state by Governor Mai Mala Buni in his inauguration address, one must acknowledge a sincere commitment in seeking way out of the problem affecting education at the basic level.
In fact, the meeting was intended to identify and analyze the problems at the basic level of education in the state and also recommend strategies to uplift the sector. The summit was a follow-up on the governor’s declaration above during his inauguration speech on May 29 this year.
He said: “A declaration of an emergency is an admission that things are not where they are supposed to be. It means that the familiar perception of the problems that confront us must be creatively challenged.”
That is very true from all ramifications considering the truth that the basic level is seriously affected as the quality of education needed at the level has over the years missed road. But thank God, now genuine efforts are top gear by leaders at various levels, especially at the states’ to ameliorating the dwindling fortune of the sector based on the belief that if the basic level is sound and okay, there would not be a problem with the post basic education up to tertiary level.Therefore, Governor Buni and his likes deserve commendation for the concern on education, especially at the basic. This is a bold step from the governor.
Undoubtedly, it is difficult to get other things right if education, which is the bedrock for societal development, is not placed on a sound footing. However, education is capital intensive and its results take years to manifest.
We all know that investment in education might not bring immediate votes to Governor Buni, but if his project is faithfully implemented, he will acquire an honoured place in the state’s history in the future.
For this and many more reasons, the state’s education summit, I submit, should go beyond the launch. Really, it requires a comprehensive blueprint as well as timeliness for execution, monitoring and evaluation. We urge other Northern states to borrow a leaf from Yobe.
More importantly, it is a pride to note that the summit was aimed at reworking existing policies in order to engender a better learning environment in public schools, taking cognizance that the nation’s education system is still not where it is supposed to be.
This clearly shows that performance of a majority of students in the state in various national examinations, including SSCE and NECO, is not very impressive. There is the dismal performance of students at primary and secondary school levels not only in the state, but in the region at large. However, the state was unable to fill its quota in various institutions of learning and in areas of specialization such as medicine, computer science and engineering.
The state’s growing number of children who are outside the school system is frightening. It carried a whopping number of 658,770 out of school children according to Demographic Health Survey (DHS) conducted in 2015 by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and maybe the figure has even increased now.
Even though the state had its own bitter taste of the insurgency, which practically stalled development affected the state for about eight years has caused devastating social wreckage. In spite of it drawing the state to an economic instability, it also caused an uncertainty to a state that was previously thought to champion the cause of more prosperous society in attaining or achieving Universal Primary Education.
Even though Governor Buni has a political will to revolutionarise the state education sector, his administration alone cannot provide education to all as there is need for total support of School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) in every communities to complement the governor’s efforts.
Regardless with the low abysmal performance of the students in the state at primary and secondary school levels, another cankerworm that crippled the basic education system in the state is the high level of decreasing number of children to school. This despair is due to the fact that in times of conflict and crisis, children are forced out of school, which contributes to higher drop-out and lower completion rates.
We all know that no nation, state or society can rise above the standard of its education. This is because it is education that serves as the springboard for every kind of development.
If education is weak or dysfunctional, society and its development will also be weak and dysfunctional. And all change – including his very consolidations agenda – state education emergency begins with emergency in the sector; because it is education that shapes, corrects and restores society.
With this feat recorded by the state in declaring state of emergency on the sector, people within and outside the state commended Governor Buni for this bold step.
It is difficult to get other things right if education, which is the bedrock for societal development, is not placed on a sound footing. In fact these concepts will raise the consciousness of Yobeans to their responsibilities in promoting the attainment of the set objectives of Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Agenda.
By implication, if basic education continues to receive the same harsh treatment as it does today, in no time its remaining traces in this country will be wiped out and that will be the end of our development as a nation.
God forbid! The above solution will also sensitize communities on responsibilities in education-access, retention and completion, by ensuring that every girl and every boy should have the right to a quality education so that they can have more chances in life, including employment opportunities, better health and also to participate in the political process.
To achieve this noble cause, there is need for total support and co-opting Parents-Teachers Associations (PTAs) and School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) even though they neither influence policy formulation nor add any value to the existing educational processes.
Those that care have only the pleasure of meeting annually to exchange pleasantries. The government cannot be completely cleared of the blame; but the community, in its own right, has a vital role to play in the provision, management, delivery and improvement of education.
Community participation, as a concept, aims at bringing various stakeholders within the society together for educational policy-formulation, problem-solving and decision making. Peasants, government, traditional and religious leaders – everyone – has a stake in it.
Dukawa can be reached at [email protected].