Free Basic Education Policy: A Child of Necessity Threatened by COVID-19

Exactly 66 years ago, on January 17, 1955, the avatar, Chief Jeremiah Oyeniyi Obafemi Awolowo, leading the defunct Action Group (AG), the ruling party in the defunct Western Region of Nigeria, launched a legendary human capital policy, the Free Primary Education.

Ajayi Simon Ademola, a   senior lecturer in history at the University of Ibadan, in a paper titled: “The development of Free Primary Scheme in Western Region”, said: The 1950s ushered in a revolutionary phase in the history of education in Nigeria. This period witnessed the introduction of Free Education scheme in Western Region and marked a radical departure from the hitherto existing educational patterns not only in Western Nigeria but the entire country. Nothing else could have describe d the novel policy of the then AG under the leadership of Awolowo, more than the eternal words of the erudite scholar. That singular policy in the nation’s educational system changed the face of that important sector f the nation.

Why Free Primary Education? The answer to this inestimable question is well situated in the visionary instinct of the leadership of AG. The poverty level in the immediate post-independent Nigeria was alarming. Awolowo himself, at several forums, narrated the pains, agonies and deprivations he had to go through before he could achieve his educational attainments. Coming from that background and being in tune with his people, Awolowo knew that the best way to take the populace out of the poverty ship was to get their children educated.

While the Free Education programme commenced effectively on January 17,1955 when it was launched, plans towards it actually began in 1952 when  the AG government sent the  proposals for the scheme  to the Western Region House of Assembly for deliberation and for it to pass the enabling laws that would ensure the take off of the scheme in the entire region which has now been balkanised into the present day Lagos, Oyo, Ondo Osun, Ogun, Ekiti, Edo and Delta states.

Prior to the launch of the Western Region Free Primary Education policy, education in the entire Western Region was mainly done by, first, the missionaries, who saw and needed education mainly for religious purpose – evangelism and the expansion of the gospel-, and second, by the colonial masters, whose aim was to raise mid-class educated Nigerians that could be useful in the colonial administration. But with the coming of AG as the democratically elected government in 1952, Chief Awolowo, while delivering his first budget speech, made the issue of Free Education as the cardinal focus of the new administration in the region, as he promised to give top priority to education and announced that AG would adopt that as the guiding principle of its policy. He told the legislators then that «as far as possible, expenditure on services which tend to the welfare and health and education of the people should be increased at the expense of any expenditure that does not answer to the same test.”

By July, the then Minister of Education for the Region, Chief Awokoya, presented a more comprehensive proposal which made the scheme to transit from Free Primary Education Scheme to a free Universal Primary Education, UPE, with  a take-off time lag of 1955. Awokoya assured that the scheme would not lower the standard of education as the proposal included a teacher training programme that would cater for the needs of more hands since the scheme would ensure more school enrolment and the establishment of Secondary Modern School, an intermediary between primary and secondary school. Such ambitious move was later described as the best and the boldest ever in the history of educational development in Nigeria.

The launch of UPE in 1955 brought about a unprecedented school children enrolment throughout the Region. Children, who hitherto, had turned farmers and those learning crafts, were drafted back to the classrooms and western region became the cynosure of all eyes, not only in Nigeria or the Wes Africa Sub-Region, but in the entire Black Race and civilisation. In quick succession, other regions, the Eastern and Northern Regions, copied the prototype. The launch witnessed an exponential increment in the number of school children and the number of primary schools from 6,274 to 6,407.

By the Second Republic in 1979, Awolowo›s Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, took the notch up by extending the Free Universal Primary education, to Secondary School, with an addition of free text books, notebooks and other stationeries. But unfortunately, the invasion of the military into the political space, in January, 1966, halted the monumental progress the Western Region Free UPE scheme had achieved. That notwithstanding, the footprints of that scheme remain indelible and a reference point in the history of educational development not only in the Western Region of Nigeria, which piloted it  but in the entire country.

With the introduction of fees in schools by the successive military regimes both in the late 60s and heir second coming in the early 80, enrolment in primary and secondary schools dropped drastically. The sudden introduction of retrospective school fees by the military administration of General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), when he toppled the civilian administration in December 1981, led to a lot of indigent students dropping out of school. The poverty level, the austerity measure policy of Alhaji Shehu Shagari›s civilian government, the Structural Adjustment Programmes, SAP, of the self-styled Military President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, and other unfavourable economic policies, have all combined to create poverty in many homes and take school enrolment to its lowest ebb. The proliferation and  monstrous school-fees charged by private schools served as the killer punch.

But in recent times, however, nothing threatens school enrolment more than the novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, which blew up in November 2019, and has rendered the world economy comatose

Speaking to Sunday Tribune, an expert in education management, Professor Oyetakin Iyiomo, of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba- Akoko, Ondo State, blamed the problems in the education sector on instability in the country’s political governance, corruption and mismanagement that have created hardship among the populace.

He also described the effect of COVID-19 as worsening the situation and making it impossible for a large number of parents to send their children back to school, calling for an economic stimulus for poor parents.

“The lockdown has created unemployment and joblessness to the citizens whose children/wards attend school, hence, there should be a considerable effort by the government to generate employment or ease the lockdown so that low income earners/artisans can return to work,” he said.


Education under threat…

A recent survey by the World Bank showed that 45 per cent of school-aged household members (aged 5-18 years) have not been to school or engaged in any education or learning activities since mid-March. The Nigeria COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey (COVID-19 NLPS) 2020, also  revealed that 45 per cent of school-aged household members have not engaged in any education or learning activities since mid-March, 2020.


Basic education: The South-West situation

Like every other part of Nigeria, coronavirus is yet to end its devastating onslaught on people. In the South-West, for instance, while efforts are being made by the state executives to recover from economic effect pandemic wrought, the education sector is also being considered as one of the most affected.

From Oyo, Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti to Ondo and Osun states, investigations revealed that many parents are yet to recover from the effects of COVID-19 and this has affected their children›s education quest.

In Oyo State, findings by our correspondent indicated that the loss of jobs and means of economic livelihood by some parents due to the pandemic had forced some parents to withdraw their children from private schools and enrolling them in public schools.

Some of the proprietors interviewed by Sunday Tribune lamented the drop in the number of pupils enrolment, blaming the development on possible loss of jobs and other employment opportunities by parents as a result of COVID-19, which could not make them to pay the fees for their children.

The proprietor of D Glorious Kiddies Nursery and Primary School, Oloogbo, Ibadan, Mrs Ohimere Precious, said «it is obvious that COVID-19 pandemic has had debilitating effects on all spheres of life. Our school enrolment figure has reduced as a result of the pandemic. Many parents are battling economically to survive and some of the parents of children in our school have withdrawn the pupils and enrolled them in public schools. For instance here, we used to have about 60 pupils before the outbreak of COVID-19, but we have little over 40 pupils,”

But what the private schools lost, the public has gained. According to Sunday Tribune findings, some parents have returned their children to the public school, largely because it is free. Though the Oyo State Commissioner for Education, Mr  Olasunkanmi Olaleye, said the current enrolment figures in public primary schools were not available, when contacted he explained that the measure the state government adopted during the pandemic convinced many parents to return their children to school.

“We did something last year. Even, in the midst of pandemic, we try to keep on learning and the whole idea of education did not get lost along the way. We continued to engage the students. We started with terminal classes and later we went on to other classes.

“Those things kept the system going and sustained the interest of the students. Now, they just resumed for the new academic session and it will take to about a month because they will keep enrolling at the beginning of a session. After a month, we would be able to know whether we have lost some students to the impact of COVID-19.

“We would be able to know whether we have lost some students to trading, farming or whether what we did last year the interest is still there. This is the first session and the first week,” Olaleye explained.

The situation is not too different in Ekiti and Osun states as private school owners continue to count their losses. A school owner in Ekiti State, Chief Sayo Olatunde, lamented the impact of the Covid-19 on enrolment in his school, saying most students had not returned since March 2020 when all schools were shut in the state.

According to Olatunde, “I will say private schools are the most affected by Covid-19 because the pandemic affected the economy and that in turn manifested in the finances of many parents.

“It is really difficult for us that many pupils didn›t return to the school after the lockdown and I can say I know the reasons for that development. The money is not just there and we know.”

Corroborating Olatunde›s claim of parents withdrawing their children from private schools, chairman of the Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Professor Femi Akinwumi confirmed the development. He said public schools were indeed witnessing increase in enrolment at the expense of private schools.

Akinwumi attributed the development to the deliberate attempt of the state government in the education sector, «which include the building of modern school with facilities.”

He said, “I can tell you confidently that we are witnessing explosives across our schools in the state. It seems the coronavirus pandemic is a blessing to public schools,” he told Sunday Tribune.

To Mrs Bosede Adeola, a parent of two said the pandemic crippled her business which has affected the financial capability of the family.

He added that one of her children was yet to resume to school since February, «because of money we need to pay in the private school and we are not considering taking her to public school this year.”

In a chat with our correspondent, a 12-year-old pupil, Tope Abimbola said his parents withdrew him from the private in October to the public school as a result of finance.

He said, “My daddy said I should be going to public school now since October that will resume from the lockdown. The fees in the private school are too high.»


Lagos’ peculiar challenge…

In September 2020, when schools resumed in the state after the first wave of COVID-19 and the nationwide lockdown, the state government found itself grappling with an unusual absenteeism among pupils and students of primary and secondary schools in the state, leading to the deputy governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, raising the alarm. In a series of posts on his verified Twitter handle, Hamzat claimed that over 21,000 pupils in public nursery and primary schools failed to show up in their various schools.

While the figure of all public primary schools and junior secondary schools in the state are still only 1,016 and 349 respectively according to the 2018 students’ census carried out by the state government, a total of 480,110 pupils and 337,724 were deemed to be attending those primary and junior secondary schools which is lower than the figure of 2013, which was 502, 347 as regards the former.

Even at that, if 21,000 from the figure stayed away, that would mean close to five per cent of the pupils not showing up for one reason or another.

While Hamzat didn’t put a figure to those staying away at secondary school level, findings by Sunday Tribune showed that many students also didn’t resume classes in September and didn’t participate in the first term learning and examination before the schools closed on December 18 for the Yuletide.

Hamzat, while lamenting the drop in school resumption and attendance, reasoned that the economic crisis that came with COVID-19, which affected millions of homes, as well as the reluctance of many parents to release their wards out of fear, accounted for the academic crisis which he promised would be fixed by the government.

The state government, though, has come up with various strategies, particularly lately to attract more children not only to enrol and also to retain them in public schools.

One of these strategies, according to the Executive Chairman of the state Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB), Mr Wahab Alawiye-King, is the adoption of ‘Zero Project,’  which he explained to Sunday Tribune was designed to take the out-of-school children off the streets “as the state is moving towards a smart city.”

It is observed that despite the state’s high literacy rate (96.5 per cent, the second highest among states of the federation according to the National Bureau of Statistics), it still has a large number of children of school-going age who are not in school. Many of them are either on the streets soliciting for alms, working as bus conductors, load carriers, shoe shiners, hawkers or in shops learning one vocational trade or the other while their peers are in school learning.

However, the loss of public schools in enrolment is the gains to private schools, as findings have shown that private schools have more students’ enrolment than public schools at the basic level at least over a decade running.

Leaders of various private school associations, including Mr Olawale Amusa, President, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools(NAPPS), Lagos State chapter; Mr Orji Kanu, National President, Association for Formidable Educational Development(AFED) and Mr Raheem Fatai, Chairman, League of Muslim School Proprietors (LEAMSP), Lagos State, testify to this findings.

According to NAPPS boss, private schools alone account for up to 65 per cent students’ enrolment in nursery, primary and junior secondary schools across the 20 local government areas of the state.

He put the figure of private schools in the state at that level to around 8,000 with NAPPS members alone account for more than 5, 000 while students’ populations would be in millions.

“And this is a known fact that the state government itself always acknowledged at every public forum,’ he added.

When asked what could have been responsible for private schools having more enrolment nowadays unlike in the past, Mr Amusa explained that even though public schools parade more qualified teachers than private schools, lack of proper supervision by relevant government authorities hinder their adequate commitment to their duties, thus, poorer performance of their students.

He also added that, “Many parents also want their children to go to schools near their homes or places of work so as to be easily taking them to school in the morning and back homes after school hours”.


Education in the creeks of Niger Delta

In Rivers State, while the schools were eventually allowed to open in sometime in November, findings revealed that the long period of no academic activities, the incidence of accumulated fees and the risk of the second wave currently sweeping across the nation, are not telling much on school enrolment

But David Uwakwe, a teacher in one of the private schools in the state confirmed that the Covid-19 pandemic did not have any effect on school enrolment. He explained; “You know that during the lockdown when it was no longer clear when schools would re-open, most of them resorted to online learning. And during that time, parents were made to pay some money for their participating children. Many of them concluded their second term curriculum and held their tests during the lockdown.”

But for Mrs. Michael who has four children, two in secondary school and two in primary, the pandemic really affected the family negatively. She said that due to the lockdown her husband lost his job and she had to grapple with half salary. “However, all parents live for their children. There is no way we can give up giving them the best starting with giving them good education. So in spite of the temporary set back by the pandemic, we still have to make the necessary sacrifice to give them the best”. How is her family doing that? “We have to prioritise our expenses, discuss a workable terms of fees payment with the schools and then take it one day at a time while we explore other avenues of increasing our income”, she said.

In Akwa Ibom State, enrolment figures in basic schools across the state has dropped drastically especially in private nursery, primary and secondary as the advent of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic combined with other extraneous factors to ground the state’s economy since early 2019.

Governor Udom Emmanuel, apparently worried by the economic downturn crippling various departments including the real sector, has disclosed of his administration’s plan to inject N50billion economic stimulus package which, according to him, would breathe some life into the comatose economy. The House of Assembly, Emmanuel said, had approved the cash as an elixir to stimulate growth and development of the system in areas of education, agriculture, job creation, infrastructural development and social empowerment.

“The House of Assembly has approved for me N50billion as economic stimulus package to shore up the economy in this COVID-19 era”, the governor said, adding that a greater chunk of the cash would go into revamping the collapsing teaching and learning infrastructures in the basic education structures in the state.

Towards this end, the governor has given executive order for no fewer than 1,000 teachers to be recruited and fencing round all public schools on the Uyo metropolis. “We will commence fencing of public schools within Uyo”, he stressed, explaining that the decision became necessary to safeguard teaching and learning infrastructures for “functional education for our children at the basic level because our children must have the right foundation for development”.

And to retool the basic education system in line with acceptable standards, the State Chairman of the State Basic Education Board, Mrs. Ekaette Ebong Okon, assured that “government is working to reposition the basic education system and warned politicians against scrambling for slots in the approved 1,000 teachers which the state government commenced recruitment on Monday.

To further re-jig the basic schools system, the governor had two weeks ago, announced the appointment of a seasoned educationist, Mrs. Idongesit Etiebet, as the new Commissioner for Education with the major mandate of repositioning the basic education system in the state. And with the current harsh economic realities occasioned by the unexpected arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents with low income, whose businesses have collapsed in the wake of the virus, have taken some measures to streamline their budgets to reflect the prevailing economic situation in the state by withdrawing their children and wards from the expensive private schools to public schools.

Mr Anyanime Umoren, the Chairman, Parents\Teachers Association (PTA) at the Federal Girls Technical College, Uyo, said his school “has witnessed increased enrolments of pupils as parents have withdrawn their pupils from the expensive private schools”.

In Delta State, the after-effects of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic with its attendant lockdown are taking their toll on public and private schools in the state even as stakeholders have continued to lament. Mr Oyem Gary, a teacher in a private school in Warri decried the situation deceiving it as scary when speaking to Sunday Tribune on Thursday.

“Because of the series of lockdown caused by the COVID19, schools can’t register students, you can’t even get access to school staff for enrolment which has caused enrolment to drop besides the fact that it is scary for people to be in school because of population. There’s also no sufficient money because the economy has shutdown as well. Enrolment fee has to boil down on either students paying for themselves or parents paying for their children. Besides the fact that there’s no money, prices of almost everything that is needed in the country has been hiked. The prices of foodstuffs in the market are nothing to write home about; price of transportation is unbearable’, he bemoaned.

According to him, “I may now be thinking of how to withdraw my child from a private school to a public school where there will be minimum payment of fees. “It has affected the attendance of students in school based on the previous explanations,” he reiterated.

Evang. Ighoakpokrire Peter, the proprietor of Okpako Schools in Delta. Proprietor said, parents now combine their work responsibilities with caring for and educating their own children themselves for obvious reasons. “Students themselves are faced with isolation and uncertainty about the future. Students may be substantially behind, especially in science subjects especially in mathematics. On the part of the proprietors, there is loss of tuition revenue for school owners,” he quipped.

In Bayelsa the declaration of free and compulsory education for all by the state Government in 2012 brought lots of excitement and hopes for parents that pay schools fees through their nose. The announcement of the policy forced low income earners in the state to withdraw their children from private schools to escape high fees.

Many could remember when the governor of Bayelsa state then, Hon. Seriake Dickson declared “education and human capacity development is the single most important challenge facing our generation and it is our most compelling and urgent need.  That is why we declare free and compulsory education for all our children in primary and secondary schools…we will build 25 model secondary schools with boarding facilities, we will feed them and give all our students in public schools free school uniforms, books and bags”, Dickson said

But in recent times, there has been a steady increase in the number of out-of-schools children roaming the streets of Yenagoa metropolis, neigbouring and far-flung communities across the state.

The Bayelsa State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) recently admitted that out of the 12.3 million out-of-school children in Nigeria, Bayelsa accounts for 265,000 of them, and that 60 per cent of the number are girls.

A critical look at the 2019 SUBEB statistics revealed that out of the 300, 176 students that enrolled into primary schools across the state, only 65, 970 made into the Basic Junior Secondary Schools (BJSS).

This means that the 234, 206 students formed the number of those who dropped out of school, moved out of public to private schools, relocated from the state or in the worst case scenario died before they could make it into BJSS.

To this end, the present administration under, Senator Douye Diri, is working tirelessly to recover from this deficit, by driving a campaign that is geared towards increasing school enrolment across the eight council areas of the state with the support of stakeholders to encourage the girl child to complete education.

During an interview shortly after conducting oral interview for 360 pupils that passed the 2020/2021 Bayelsa State Scholarship Entrance Examination, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry of education, Mr Walton Liverpool, committed to increasing school enrolment in order to reduce the rate of out-of-school Children in the state in as a result of COVID-19.

“Before COVID-19 came, the scholarship was open for 500 pupils but because of fear of spread of the pandemic some parents are reluctant to send their wards to boarding schools. This year, 360 pupils took part in the exercise and 280 pupils made it through the exercise,» he explained.

In the neighbouring Cross River State, he COVID-19 pandemic has swung several families and individuals into poverty and untold hardship bringing down the standard of living of many in ridiculous and unbearable ways.

Most if not every sector of the people›s life as a nation has been terribly hit and continues to stagger between gasping for breath of sustainability and collapsing for lack of it. The education  sector in the state is not left out,  as school owners, teachers, parents and students have learned their voices to the several impacts of the COVID-19 induced poverty and the lingering implications it continues to pose to students enrolment and associated academic activities, even as the nation continue to struggle with the second wave of the coronavirus.

School administrators in both public and private schools in the Calabar Metropolitan area have decried the poor level recovery and enrolment in schools due to ravaging impact of COVID-19 on job, business, and diverse means of livelihood.

Speaking to Sunday Tribune, the school Principal of Scholastic Leadership Academy, who simply introduced herself as Mrs Ben, lamented that students enrolment and continued learning has been terribly slowed as lots of students have remained at home unable to resume school.

Her words: “Before the Covid-19 lock down, the enrolment we had was very impressive, we had a good turn up in school enrolment each term, we usually have about 180 learners, but after COVID-19, the number dropped. She lamented, noting that “after a series of calls to parents, some had relocated and were unable to return back to Calabar where the school is residing.”

Also, “some had serious financial issues, so they had to change schools, so presently, as I am speaking to you, some are gradually returning, but some couldn’t make it because they said, they have to recover from the financial loss they suffered during the lockout. Mrs Ben added.

Also speaking was the proprietor of the school, Nyong David, appealed to governments at all levels to provide support to school owners especially in information management and in creating awareness for an improved campaign against the deadly virus.

“I think the government should assist the private schools, by trying as much as possible to do a lot of gingles, to sanitise the system in the sense that parents should know how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic, because, back home, most of the do not even know what is about”

A student, Edidiong Effiong, SS1, of Government Technical College, Calabar reacted that although schools have reopened, “… my classmates are really few; we used to be more than this. We are not happy with the lockdown because we not moving forward in our studies,” Edidiong noted.


And schools remain close in Edo 

Health experts have said the second wave of the pandemic is deadlier than the first wave. In Edo State for instance, Governor Godwin Obaseki, on Friday evening announced that all schools in the state shall remain closed till February 1. This was coming just as the Federal Government announced January 18 as resumption date for schools across the country . even at that, Obaseki said that the February date was tentative to ensure that modalities were put in place in line with the COVID-19 protocols.  He added that a monitoring team from the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) would oversee compliance before the proposed date. The resumption date might be shifted depending on the level of compliance with the COVID-19 protocols and how well the curve would have been flattened then, he said.


Zamfara, reduction in out-of-school children

In Zamfara State, the number of out of school children has drastically reduced despite the pandemic. Government says more pupils have resumed in both primary and secondary schools in the state.

Executive chairman Zamfara State Primary Education Board, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar Maradun, said the enrollment of pupils was encouraging since the resumption of school in the state.

He explained that the issue of COVID-19 only affected pupils in the past when the country was on lockdown.

Maradun maintained that out of school children now in the state can only be attributed to reasons outside Covid-19.

But in an interview, a teacher in one of the primary schools in the state, Mallam Abdullahi Mohammed, said some pupils have not returned to school, particularly pupils from poor background.

“I was not surprised when some of my pupils refused to come back to school after the lockdown was relaxed. Their parents have lost confidence in their studies. They were hit by the downturn in the economy,” he said.


Covid-19 deals a blow on education in Bauchi 

In Bauchi, most schools are negatively affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has made some parents to either change schools for their children or even withdraw them for a moment.

Mr Blaise Ugochukwu, the Principal of LYS Academy, a private school in the state, said that the COVID-19 pandemic really had negative impact on the school as some parents stopped their children from coming to school.

He added that the first term was conducted online as students took their lessons and examination through WhatsApp while the school has put in place adequate process to avert pupils contracting the virus.

A parent met in the school who simple gave his name as Abdulkareem said that he was in the school to see how prepared the management is as the school reopens on Monday, 18th January.

On the decline in school enrollment, chairman of Bauchi State Universal Basic English Board (SUBEB), Dr Abubakar Surumbai Sheikh Dahiru said the state has 1.3 million out of school children who must be taken off the streets.

He said that, “Governor Bala Mohammed has explained that the state government will build big classrooms to remove these children from the streets. We also have a serious programme, BESDA which is a programme of the World Bank in collaboration with the federal and state government to tackle the menace of out of school children in Bauchi State”.

He added that, “under the programme our target in the first year is to remove 58,000 out of school children to classrooms, out of the number, 33,000 are males while 25,000 are girls. But we surpassed the target as we removed 73,300 in over 1,000 learning centers across the nine local government areas in the state, Under this we are taking a step further to introduce the learning centres in markets and road block places across the state.”

The SUBEB Chairman also said that, “So that once these children bring their wares from the village to the market, they will go there to study for just one or two hours and go back. Before the end of the four-year programme, these boys and girls will be literate.”


Despite Covid-19, Sokoto Enrols 75,000 Children in School

Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto state has disclosed that despite the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, the state government under the Better Education Service Delivery Agency (BESDA) programme has enrolled over 75, 000 children into basic schools in the state last year.

Governor Tambuwal further said his administration is also targeting over 90,000 children for enrollment this year. He stated this Wednesday at the official flag-off of BESDA enrolment drive for the year 2020/21.

He also disclosed that over 1,513 integrated Quranic Schools have been created just as teachers have been recruited and provided with books as well as instructional materials within the year.


Parents afraid children could contract Covid-19 in Kano

A cross section of people spoke to Sunday Tribune on the rising out of school children cases in Kano ,especially due to outbreak of COVID-19 , said many parents were afraid arrangements were not put in place to curtail the spread of the virus, hence their stopping their wards from attending schools.

Efforts to speak with government on this issue were unsuccesful, as officials of state government on education declined to comment on rising  out of school children cases, saying «there was a directive from the state Commissioner of Education that no staff must speak to the press on any issue.

Heads of schools visited by Sunday Tribune spoke on anonymity condition, revealing that the outbreak of COVID-19 has caused a lot of damage to education in the state.

But Mr Emmanuel John, a staff at Excellent Primary School in Sabongari, a privately owned school, disclosed that before outbreak of the virus, at least 30-40 pupils were in a class. But as of now, it is hardly to record 20-30 in a class.


Additional reports from Ebenezer Adurokiya, Yomi Ayeleso, Tunbosun Ogundare, Ishola Michael, Olakunle Maruf, Kola Oyelere, Ebiowei Lawal, Godwin Amaechi, Yekini Jimoh and Oluwole Ige.


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