#TrackNigeria: On the 8th May 2019, a capricious, arbitrary act was orchestrated against a cornerstone of Nigeria’s political heritage – the Emirate and Emir of Kano, Kano State, Nigeria. Acting in manifest bad faith, without observing due process or conducting any hearing – this act sought to unravel constitutional powers and alter 1000 years of history through the establishment of the so-called new emirates of Bichi, Rano, Gaya and Karaye. There is no reasonable, or significant explanation for this plot; other than the political motives of the State Governor wishing to unseat the occupier of this sacred position based on a dislike emanating from a disparity in political beliefs. Meanwhile, there is a serious social and economic crisis confronting Kano that requires urgent attention from the government.
Last year, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) released figures stating that Nigeria has 13.5 million out-of-school children. This accounts for close to a fifth of the estimated 60 million children out of school globally. Nigeria has more out of school children than any other country in the world. Despite its oil wealth, corruption and neglect have left Nigeria’s education sector broken. It has long been recognised that education reduces poverty, boosts economic growth and increases a person’s chances of having a healthy life. It is one of the most important investments a country can make in its people and its future. Yet, Nigeria has refused to show a serious commitment to education. UNESCO recommends that developing countries should dedicate at least 15 – 20 percent of their spending to education. Nigeria has never exceeded 12 percent. In fact, in 2018, a measly 7.04 percent was allocated to the Federal Ministry of Education – a reduction from previous years.
When education is so clearly linked to every other aspect of a country’s growth and development – the government’s highly defective policies and refusal to prioritise the sector is nothing less than criminal. If you want to see education at its worst in Nigeria – look no further than a government funded school in Kano State. With the highest population of secondary and primary school dropouts in Nigeria and an estimated three million children out of school; education is irrefutably Kano State’s biggest failing. The level of infrastructure in many rural areas in Kano is in a state of decay or, in many cases, altogether non-existent. Crumbling walls, no tables or chairs – children frequently sit on stone cold bare concrete floors. These are the lucky ones, many will not have access to infrastructure at all and will take lessons outside under a tree. Exposed to the elements, when it rains the lessons will end for the day. The rainy season in Kano lasts 4.3 months.
Public schools are overcrowded, and teacher absenteeism has rocketed due to unpaid salaries and a general lack of pride in the profession. The student – teacher ratio in the state is 1:229. Furthermore, it is estimated that 65 percent of teachers at primary level are not qualified to teach at all. Curriculums focus on rote learning and are often conducted not in the child’s mother tongue language. Both these methods work to rapidly disengage the children who do attend classes and are proven to have ongoing detrimental effects on a child’s educational development.
There is a clear north-south dichotomy in terms of education in Nigeria where the education deficit is undoubtedly more extreme in the north. Indeed, this is evidenced most strongly when you compare literacy rates among women. In the North-East and the North-West states, literacy rates are as low as 25.8 percent, compared to a range of 81 percent in the south geopolitical zones. In states like Kano, this dichotomy has been attributed to the Boko Haram insurgency, yet the group’s impact on education must not be over exaggerated. Whilst there is little doubt the militants have had a negative impact on the education sector, it must be remembered that it is the lack of education that allowed the insurgency to spread so quickly, preying on the disenfranchised, unemployed and uneducated.
The north’s education system has historically been complicated. Religious and cultural customs mean that religious and secular education are interspersed and often unregulated. And education, particularly of girls, has been grossly neglected and deliberately impaired. Building infrastructure is not always enough to encourage parents to send their children to school yet, knowing this, education that should have been the key focus of government investment has been completely neglected by Governor Ganduje.
Instead, in recent years, it is the Emir of Kano Muhammed Sanusi II that has broken tradition and been vocal about the imperative of investing in education. A proponent for banning child marriage and an advocate for female education, His Highness has been an important voice for scholarship in the State. Emir Sanusi has used his vast soft power for good by being the main advocate for education, in particular, girl child education. It is tragic that Governor Ganduje who has refused to focus on the social needs of the people of Kano is expending vast amounts of money and energy to shut out Emir Sanusi from all his good work. Clearly, the tragedy of Kano today is that the dark powers of patriarchy, illiteracy and poverty have found their champion in Governor Ganduje, the enemy of progress.
We are concerned because abandoning the interest of Kano’s children for the pecuniary interest of persons in power who are determined to shut up and expel voices for progress undermines the future of the State. Abandoning education of our children for self-conceit and irresponsible use of power is an unfolding disaster for the people that must be stopped immediately. Time is running out for a whole generation of Kanawa and we must act now.
Dr. Hussaini Abdu
Ismail Ahmed Esq
Professor Jibrin Ibrahim
Dr. Ayesha Imam
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani
Maryam Uwais Esq
Eng. Y. Z. Ya’u