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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Kano Interview Series (10) Secondary Schools

Kano Interview Series (10)
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

Kano Senior Secondary Schools Management Board

At Gidan Malamai, I met the Chairman of the Secondary Schools Management Board, Alhaji Habibu Hasan El-Yakub who answered some questions regarding the progress made by his Board in the delivery of secondary school education in the state during the past one year.

Question: Sir, what can you say was the achievement of this Board since the advent of the present administration?

Chairman: I will start by mentioning the release of allocation for the management of the schools which the previous administration promised by failed in the end to fulfill, making the running of this place almost impossible. Given that the present administration has given the education sector the desired attention, PTA of the schools came up with an arrangement for contributing their quota in the financing the management of schools. The final figures arrived at were N400, N500, and N700 for low, medium and high income earners respectively.

Question: You are sure they were not compelled to do so by government?

Chairman: No. There was no compulsion. It was their decision to pay these rates every term. So on the average, each parent is expected to contribute N1,200, N1,500 and N2,100 respectively. Initially, there were complaints from some parents but when the public realized that the contributions are given to schools to undertake miscellaneous materials, a lot of progress was recorded.

Question: Is the contribution given to your Board or how is it used?

Chairman: No. It is kept by the principals. The contributions are receipted and the government supervises how they are managed. The money is used according to the demands of the school. In some of the schools, furniture is lacking, or the floor is destroyed, or the office of the principal and staffroom are dilapidated, etc. Teachers therefore meet with their SBMC or PTA committees to decide in which areas the money would be used for at any given time. This was our first achievement.

Our second achievement is in the area of monitoring and evaluation. We met this department weak with only three or four staff and only a vehicle that cannot cover all our schools.

Question: You mean only one vehicle to cover all secondary schools in Kano.

Chairman: Yes, under this Board, not including the department of Kano Educational Resource Department, which also does some supervision of schools. So we complained to the Governor who directed us to do whatever is needed. Instantly, the Board employed retired professional teachers. Six TOYOTA-HILUX vehicles were also allocated by the government. As a result of these efforts, right now, three teams leave for inspection exercise daily. This has enabled a better service delivery in the schools.

The third achievement is the promotion of teachers. Within the past one year, we have promoted 1,190 teachers and 1,700 junior staff. This serves as an incentive to the staff.

In the area of training, we invented ways of enhancing the capacity of our staff. We held a workshop for the Board’s staff on new learning methods. Our science and technology teachers were sent for a one week course in Kaduna. They, apart from training, also returned with materials on new methods of teaching science and technology in secondary schools. We organized a workshop for principals and other administrative staff of schools on security even before the January 20th bombing. We introduced training for youth corpers newly posted to the schools in which they are introduced to the basics of teaching. This will continue to take place any time we have a new batch of corpers. There is also computer skills acquisition program that we introduced in collaboration with a private firm for our staff, teachers and students. It holds at the girl’s schools, Panshekara. It will be expanded to four or five centers. Finally, this Board has introduced a quarterly magazine called The Teachers’ Voice that informs teachers about happenings under the Board and in the schools. In it we bring forth development issues especially as they relate to issues of excellence displayed by our staff and schools and calling on the public to come forward and give its contribution in education delivery in the state.

There are people who are contributing immensely to education in the state. There is Alhaji AA Rano, who weekly contributes to schools in his local government through the award of scholarship, furniture, instructional materials, etc. There is Abdullahi Nadache who has built boreholes in many schools and make other contributions in his local government area of Minjibir. The same thing with AD Aliyu of Royal Tropicana Hotel who built and handed over a big hall in a girls’ school just last month. There are others like Bala Giwa Getso who contributed by building a whole school, Ibrahim Kabara, etc. At this juncture, I would like to express our gratitude to these patriotic citizens and call on others who are well to do in the society to also come forward to assist the sector.

I will not forget to mention the renovation of this complex – Gidan Malamai – which we found in a very bad shape but is now wearing a new face. We are doing it gradually as an in-house effort, without demanding for any allocation from government.

Question: It is usual for teachers to complain of neglect and delays in payment of their salaries and allowances, promotions, etc. Isn’t there any existing trade dispute between teachers and government? Has this government been prompt in the payment of salaries and allowances to teachers?

Chairman: I want to assure you that since the inception of this administration, this Board, under which is the largest number of state government workers – about 14,000, there has never been a month in which salaries were not paid promptly. If there is any staff that hasn’t received his salary by 25th, the problem must be from him. Workers were paid on desk, but now it is done through banks. The same with allowances; they are given on time. There are allowances peculiar to this Board like rural posting allowance, science and technology teachers allowance, school duty allowance, etc. All these are paid promptly. This is in addition to the promotion I mentioned earlier. This administration is building four houses for teachers in each local government. Some are already completed while others are at different stages of completion. The Governor has assured us of more. He has also assured us that vehicle loans will be given to workers.

Question: Including teachers? I raised the question because many times when these welfare efforts are made, they end up benefitting only administrative staff in other ministries while teachers are left to wallow in classrooms and rural areas denied by the gesture. Would there be a special vehicle loan program for the teachers or would they be allocated their share from the general pool?

Chairman: No. This government believes in equal opportunities. You can see that every local government, for example, is given its allocation in admission into the newly established Governor’s College, Informatics Institute, youth training and empowerment in animal traction, and all other programs introduced by the administration. That rule would apply to the issue of car loan also. No section of the government will dominate the other.

Question: I remember when I interviewed the immediate past governor of the state, His Excellency, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, he mentioned that during the first tenure of the present governor, he sacked over 1000 teachers because they were non-indigenes instead of employing more. What of the number of teachers? Do you have sufficient teachers and if not, do you have any intention to recruit more?

Chairman: Yes. We have shortage of teachers but not so acute to prevent us from succeeding in many areas. Don’t forget that we have 784 schools under the Board. I know government is seriously looking into how it will get us more teachers. Among the 1200 workers that will be employed soon, the largest part would be teachers. They were properly examined and interviewed before they were shortlisted. Apart from that, there is an effort under this board, to maximize the use of youth corpers through training them before sending them to classrooms, as I said earlier. We have also discussed with the British based Volunteer Service Overseas, which has promised to assist us in training and procuring teachers. We are also calling on the public and NGOs to assist us further in staffing schools by, for example, getting people who would volunteer some hours after their retirement to teach, as is done in some countries. On this we are focusing particularly on retired teachers.

Question: Your government has been building more classrooms in primary schools across the state. Is there any similar effort at your level to cater for the increase in enrolment?

Chairman: The government has already foreseen this. It has started at the primary school level. At the secondary school, a special committee has been formed under the chairmanship of the Commissioner of Education that will look into the problem of congestion in our schools and it is about to submit its report. But before then, the governor has started to address the problem by building some classrooms in some of the secondary schools already. This effort is extended also to higher institutions of learning in the state. By the end of our second year, I believe you will witness a lot development in this area.

Me: Thank you Mr. Chairman.

7 June 2012

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