‘What we are do­ing to en­cour­age mass en­rol­ment in Zam­fara’

Sunday Trust - - INTERVIEW - By Ab­dul­fa­tai Ab­dul­salam

Hon­ourable Mur­tala Adamu Jangebe is the Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man, Zam­fara State Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion (ZUBEB). He is also the Chair­man and Dean of the States Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Boards (SUBEBs) chair­men in Nige­ria. He is ad­judged as the long­est and most ex­pe­ri­enced SUBEB chair­man in the coun­try, hav­ing been ap­pointed in Septem­ber 2011 by Gov­er­nor Ab­dul-Aziz Yari Abubakar. Jangebe once served as Deputy Speaker of the Zam­fara States House of Assem­bly. And re­cently, the state govern­ment, through ZUBEB, awarded con­tracts worth N3.6 bil­lion to no fewer than 326 lo­cal/indige­nous con­trac­tors across the state as a way of em­pow­er­ment. In this in­ter­view, Jangebe speaks about the ra­tio­nale be­hind the grass­roots em­pow­er­ment and his board’s ef­forts to change the stan­dard of ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion. Ex­cerpts:

Your board is em­bark­ing on the ren­o­va­tion and re­con­struc­tion of pri­mary schools across the state. Can you give fur­ther de­tails on the project and the ra­tio­nale be­hind it?

The Zam­fara State Govern­ment, through the State Uni­ver­sal Ed­u­ca­tion Board (SUBEB), ac­cessed the 2014/2015 funds from the Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion (UBEC) in Abuja last year. We then came up with the prepa­ra­tion of the con­tracts for the in­ter­ven­tion project in our pri­mary and ju­nior sec­ondary schools. The fund is about N3.6bn. We have car­ried out as­sess­ment to know the con­di­tions of these pri­mary and ju­nior schools. We in­tend to ex­pand these schools by build­ing more class­rooms. We are also go­ing to de­con­gest the schools are over­pop­u­lated. We have taken all the nec­es­sary steps to en­sure its suc­cess and we are set to go ahead with the in­ter­ven­tion. About 114 schools are tar­geted.

At least 10 be­fit­ting Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­taries’ (ESs) of­fices would be built in 10 lo­cal govern­ment coun­cils. These of­fices are go­ing to be equipped with modern In­for­ma­tion Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy (ICT) fa­cil­i­ties. They will also have 24-hours in­ter­net ser­vice. No fewer than 326 lo­cal con­trac­tors who are liv­ing within the lo­cal­i­ties have been en­gaged to suc­cess­fully carry out the project.

What mo­ti­vated the state govern­ment to en­gage the lo­cal con­trac­tors?

We in­tend to achieve three things: pro­vide a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for teach­ing and learn­ing in our schools, de­con­gest class­rooms and fi­nally, we want to use the project for mul­ti­plier ef­fect; by em­pow­er­ing our lo­cal con­trac­tors, hence re­duc­ing poverty in the state.

It will also im­prove their skills and make them have some money that could im­prove their liveli­hood. The project will en­gage a lot of ar­ti­sans like fur­ni­ture crafts­men, welders, car­pen­ters and lots of them. That means we are ex­pect­ing to gen­er­ate back not less than N15bn. The con­trac­tors will also pur­chase ce­ment, wood­ing ma­te­ri­als, paints etc. from the lo­cals. So, this project will def­i­nitely im­prove our so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus.

Aside en­sur­ing a con­ducive learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment, what

is the board do­ing to see that pri­mary school teach­ers’ wel­fare is im­proved?

I want to tell you that the Zam­fara State Govern­ment places high pri­or­ity on pri­mary school teach­ers’ wel­fare. We at the board also look at their wel­fare in two per­spec­tives: Zam­fara is one of the states that never held teach­ers’ salary even for one month.

Sec­ondly: build­ing teach­ers’ ca­pac­ity. We re­alised that wel­fare goes be­yond tak­ing money home. Zam­fara State is do­ing a lot in terms of build­ing ca­pac­ity of these teach­ers by ex­pos­ing them to all kinds of train­ing that are avail­able in the coun­try and over­seas.

Presently, we are in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Child Devel­op­ment Project of DfID, we are also in col­lab­o­ra­tion with UNICEF.

Re­cently, we spon­sored 10 of our teach­ers to the United King­dom (UK) for a learn­ing pro­gramme by Jolly Phoenix. The teach­ers are now train­ing other teach­ers. In fact, it is our teach­ers that are train­ing other teach­ers in some states like Kwara, Kaduna, Ji­gawa, Gombe, Taraba, among oth­ers, on the Jolly Phoenix learn­ing pro­gramme.

Apart from that, if you look at the state in par­tic­u­lar, you will find out that it is only pri­mary school teach­ers that get their leave grant. Since 2011, we have been pay­ing their leave grant promptly. So, these are many ways we be­lieve we are giv­ing top pri­or­ity to the wel­fare of pri­mary school teach­ers.

How­ever, we have not yet got­ten what we want for them in terms of the min­i­mum wage im­ple­men­ta­tion. Al­though, we are plan­ning to im­ple­ment the min­i­mum wage as soon as the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion im­proves.

What is the govern­ment do­ing to in­crease or en­cour­age mass en­rol­ment in the state?

In 2011 when the govern­ment came on board, we did an as­sess­ment pro­gramme called Zam­fara State Pri­mary Ed­u­ca­tion As­sess­ment. In other words, we did an as­sess­ment on the gen­eral sit­u­a­tion of pri­mary schools in the state, in­clud­ing teach­ers’ con­di­tion, class­rooms, in­fra­struc­ture, san­i­ta­tion, as well as wa­ter.

We started in 2011 and com­pleted it in 2012. Af­ter the ex­er­cise we re­alised that we only had 283, 000 pupils in pri­mary schools as against about 500, 000 or 600, 000 that were sup­posed to be en­rolled. As soon as that dis­cov­ery was made, the state em­barked on a mas­sive en­rol­ment drive in Septem­ber 2012, where tra­di­tional lead­ers and top govern­ment of­fi­cials and po­lit­i­cal party lead­ers were man­dated to go back to their com­mu­ni­ties. We urged them to help bring back these street chil­dren to school and that re­sulted in the in­crease of pupils from 283, 000 to 447, 000 within one month. Hence every year we do what we call ‘an­nual cen­sus’ to find out our en­rol­ment We call it ‘Cash Sup­port Pro­gramme’. The money will be used by the ben­e­fit­ting par­ents to buy uni­forms and learn­ing ma­te­ri­als for their chil­dren level.

An­other strat­egy is part­ner­ship. In 2011 we did not have a sin­gle devel­op­ment part­ner in the state. But due to our ef­forts, we are able to bring in UNICEF, DfID and the Mc Arthur Foun­da­tion.

We have a pro­gramme called RANA; it is to­wards im­prov­ing lit­er­acy in Hausa Lan­guage. To­day, we have not less than five devel­op­ment part­ners al­ready in the state. The World Bank is also com­ing on board to map out the is­sue of out-of-school chil­dren.

By Septem­ber this year, we are go­ing to em­bark on a cash trans­fer pro­gramme de­signed for in­di­gent par­ents. We call it ‘Cash Sup­port Pro­gramme’. The money will be used by the ben­e­fit­ting par­ents to buy uni­forms and learn­ing ma­te­ri­als for their chil­dren. This, we be­lieve will fur­ther in­crease en­rol­ment. About N200m is go­ing to be ex­pended on this ex­er­cise, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with UNICEF.

Let me take you back to the con­tract awarded to these lo­cal con­trac­tors. What are the

mech­a­nisms put in place on its qual­ity as­sur­ance at the end of the project?

Any­body that is fa­mil­iar with Zam­fara State from 2012 to date will know that our schools speak for them­selves in terms of both ar­chi­tec­ture and in­fra­struc­ture. As soon as you drive into the state, you do not need to be told that these are our pub­lic schools. The build­ings are unique, the struc­tures are strong, well painted and with very beau­ti­ful roof­ing.

When we came in 2011, our schools looked like a state that just came out of a war. It was very di­lap­i­dated and in state of ru­ins. So, we quickly em­barked on mas­sive re­con­struc­tion. We chose ‘qual­ity’ as our watch­word. For in­stance, if we ac­cessed UBEC fund of N2bn, two per cent of it will be ded­i­cated for su­per­vi­sory and mon­i­tor­ing pur­pose.

Out of the two per cent, we in­vite pri­vate con­sul­tants to fur­ther su­per­vise our jobs. Not only that, we are us­ing our staff and ar­ti­sans to be fully in­volved in the mon­i­tor­ing and su­per­vi­sion process.

Most of our con­trac­tors were made to swear to an af­fi­davit that they were go­ing to com­ply with the spec­i­fi­ca­tion of the job. This is aside of the nor­mal con­trac­tual agree­ment.

How are you go­ing to en­sure that the struc­tures and fa­cil­i­ties are main­tained prop­erly?

It is on record that we have worked on our head teach­ers over time by in­still­ing self dis­ci­pline in them through train­ing and re­train­ing, be­cause lead­er­ship is very im­por­tant. It is like, show me a good school and I will show you the head teacher. We will con­tinue to train and re-ori­en­tate them on main­te­nance cul­ture in or­der to en­sure that both struc­tures and fa­cil­i­ties in their do­mains are in safe hands.

We will train them on main­te­nance tips and how best to safe­guard these fa­cil­i­ties, es­pe­cially when schools are out of ses­sion. Our con­trac­tors will be us­ing modern tools for these projects, es­pe­cially in se­cur­ing doors and win­dows.

How do you want the nar­ra­tive of ZUBEB to be told when you leave of­fice?

We had a vi­sion and mis­sion when we came on board, and that has not changed. 80 per cent of our chil­dren are in pub­lic schools. So, un­less we en­sure qual­ity in teach­ing and learn­ing in pub­lic schools then we are con­script­ing larger per­cent­age of our chil­dren to semi-il­lit­er­acy and other ed­u­ca­tional haz­ards. That is not our wish as a re­spon­sive govern­ment.

So, what we are do­ing is to en­sure that the best is pro­vided to these chil­dren, by im­prov­ing in qual­ity of our teach­ers through train­ing and re­train­ing. These qual­i­fied teach­ers can now work on our chil­dren and make them sound, aca­dem­i­cally. We want to get the best out of our pupils for them to be able to com­pete in the global world.

In fact, Zam­fara is the only state with a full-fledged and ded­i­cated train­ing cen­tre where our teach­ers go for three months train­ing in teach­ing skills. My dream is to see that one day pri­vate schools are no longer at­trac­tive to par­ents. By then, I will say I have changed the nar­ra­tive of pub­lic schools in Zam­fara State.

Hon­ourable Mur­tala Adamu Jangebe, Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man, Zam­fara State Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion

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