Faced by daunting allegation of declining standard of education, Bauchi State Commissioner for Education, Professor Haruna Abdullahi bares his mind on the state government’s response to repositioning the sector. He speaks with ISOLA MICHAEL.
What is your take on the stance of the governor to fight corruption in all the sectors of the state, particularly in education sector?
As you must have seen, the Governor of Bauchi State, Barrister Mohammed AbdullahiAbubakar, being a legal practitioner of repute in the country having traversed the entire country in his course for service, has come to develop zero-tolerance for corruption in the administration of the state. By the virtue of my position as a cabinet member, I have full knowledge of his anti-corruption stance. And all of us, who are serving in the administration, are 100 per cent compliant with the administration’s stance on corruption because corruption has stunted the growth of every sector of the state before we came on board in 2015. So, all we are doing now is to ensure that the zero-tolerance to corruption is spread to every sector of governance. I am happy to note that people of the state are gradually understanding the system of the administration and are showing the understanding. This development has led to the modest achievements which we have so far recorded in the past three years.
Specifically, what is your assessment of the development of the education sector so far?
As you know, Education sector in the state is the kind of diverse sector where virtually every community should have a school as part of dividends of democracy. If you look at the extent of damage or the requirement of all the schools in the state certainly you now know that we really have very mighty task, because you hardly visit two schools without seeing the need to revisit both the infrastructure and human facilities. So, with this, we intend to go ahead with the needs. And if we say that we are going to address every need of the school, that is not going to work. But we are currently embarking on needs assessment. After we have finished the assessment, we will prioritize and start implementing them. By God’s grace, within space of time we are going to make it visible to the people of Bauchi State to know that education is now assuming its rightful position.
There is this issue of lack of adequate financing of the education sector in the country. What is your reaction to the issue in Bauchi state?
We have to firstly understand that education is a social service. And if it is a social service and it is covered by the government, it means it is not a profit making business. Considering the fact that the Federal Government has just got out of recession, you should know that every sector that derives its monetary support from the Federal Government was also in recession. So there was a kind of lean period and that period of lean resources affects not only educational sector, but every other sector of the economy. So, God in His infinite mercy has been kind to the Federal Government such that it has managed the country out of recession. To our expectation, there is a kind of improvement in the cash flow to the government and the improvement in the cash flow of the state government. We are optimistic that the educational sector is going to have much more funds. If you look at the current budget signed by our governor, education has higher percentage of 19.5 per cent. This shows the concern of this present administration led by Governor Muhammad Abdullahi, to at least develop the standard of education in the state.
Knowing full well that training and retraining seems to be one of the challenges in every sector of development, how are you addressing this in the education sector of Bauchi State?
In education sector, we consider human development as one of the integral components and I think you are supposed to be a witness to that. Bauchi is one of the states at the forefront of education, especially in the North-eastern part of the country. We are currently operating a kind of partnership with all the Colleges of Education and the state university in the areas of staff development and training. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) is one of our partners, and there is a World Bank assisted programme which is going into staff development and training too. They have even gone ahead to support all the teachers of the core subjects, including the ones that benefit the rural communities. So, these are kind of development recorded. So far we don’t have much difficulty with teachers’ training programme. With the teachers training programme we don’t have much difficulties there. There are no limitations.
It is a common thing across the country for state governments to pay examination fees for students, is Bauchi State Government making any effort to assist the students in paying WEAC/NECO fees?
You know that WAEC (West African School Certificate) and NECO (National Examinations Council) are kinds of examinations that prepare students for certification. That is vital for their enrollment into institutions of higher learning. If you train your students properly and the number of students that succeeded to cross the bridge from secondary to tertiary is high, this has shown an excellent indicator. The state government has prepared the students to be equal to the task. What the state government is doing now is to prepare them for a mock examination so to get the students ready for WAEC and NECO. And normally the students that are successful in their mock, the state government pays for their WAEC and NECO. This year the mock examinations have been marked and the results have been approved, and we are going to forward the list of the successful candidates for governor’s approval for payment of their registration fees.