Borno’s ‘mega schools’, years after

Three years after its idea was mooted, Borno State’s Mega Schools ini­tia­tive has ex­panded from a 21 mega pri­mary schools to the present 53 model mega pri­mary and sec­ondary schools with 24 of them com­pleted and ed­u­cat­ing ma­jor­ity of the 50,000 chil­dren orp

Weekly Trust - - Weekend Magazine - Uth­man Abubakar, Maiduguri

The mass pop­u­la­tion of chil­dren or­phaned by the Boko Haram in­sur­gency in Borno State stared the state gov­ern­ment in the face as one of the most hor­ren­dous re­al­i­ties ever wit­nessed in the state.

Be­tween 2015 and 2016, gov­ern­ment records show that the in­sur­gency killed over 20,000 peo­ple, thus or­phan­ing over 50,000 chil­dren, while thou­sands more of such chil­dren have not been recorded due to their ap­par­ent en­trap­ment in re­mote and in­ac­ces­si­ble com­mu­ni­ties cap­tured by the in­sur­gents.

Among the thou­sands of peo­ple that have been killed are stu­dents and teach­ers when the in­sur­gents pounced on schools at all lev­els and crum­bled vir­tu­ally all the struc­tures in their “cap­tured ter­ri­to­ries”.

The gravest im­pli­ca­tion of this sit­u­a­tion was that the chil­dren that es­caped the at­tacks were thrown out of school, which fur­ther im­plied that their aban­don­ment in psy­choso­cial trauma would breed them into a large army of fu­ture Boko Haram in­sur­gents since they had been thrown out of western ed­u­ca­tion.

The Borno State Gov­ern­ment, there­fore, fash­ioned out the Mega Schools project, ini­tially for the ed­u­ca­tion of the “Boko Haram or­phans”, but later re­vised it to also ac­com­mo­date other chil­dren, mainly due to the high level of im­pov­er­ish­ment of the larger pop­u­la­tion of the state oc­ca­sioned by the in­sur­gency.

Un­der the ini­tia­tive, 21 Mega Pri­mary/Ju­nior Sec­ondary Schools were to be built, more in Maiduguri Me­trop­o­lis and Jere lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area, and spread across the safe and se­cure lo­ca­tions of the state to fa­cil­i­tate the ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion of the spe­cial sys­tem of ed­u­ca­tion for the “ab­nor­mal” or­phans and other chil­dren.

Three and a half years after, Borno State’s Mega School­ing ini­tia­tive has ex­panded ro­bustly to or­ches­trate the con­struc­tion of not only 42 Mega Pri­mary/Ju­nior Sec­ondary Schools, 21 more than the ini­tially planned num­ber, but 13 more ed­u­ca­tional struc­tures in the Mega School­ing con­cept, which adds up to 53.

The Spe­cial As­sis­tant to the Gov­er­nor and Su­per­vi­sor of the Mega Schools, Barr. Yusuf Shet­tima, said, “It is dif­fi­cult to men­tion the ex­act amount of money spent on the Mega Schools be­cause it is han­dled at sep­a­rate lev­els by the state Min­istries of Ed­u­ca­tion, Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and the State Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Board (SUBEB).”

The 2019 state bud­get has, how­ever, al­lo­cated N2bn for the Mega Schools alone.

Out of the 42 Mega Pri­mary/ Ju­nior Sec­ondary Schools, 24 have been con­structed in Maiduguri Me­trop­o­lis and Jere Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area, while the re­main­ing 20 have been con­structed, one each in Bama, Gu­bio, Ngan­zai, Monguno, Kwaya Kusar, Hawul, Biu, Shani, Magumeri, Gwoza and other rel­a­tively se­cure com­mu­ni­ties.

The Mega Schools in Maiduguri and Jere are Ngo­mari I and II, hav­ing 48 class­rooms and 1,920 pupils; Ibrahim Mai Suga Mega School with 30 class­rooms and 1,200 pupils; Deribe Hos­pi­tal Mega School with 60 class­rooms and 2,400 pupils; Ka­nuri Mo­tors Mega School with 57 class­rooms and 2,280 pupils; and Yerwa Gov­ern­ment Girls Col­lege with 30 class­rooms and 1,200 pupils.

Oth­ers are Gov­ern­ment Col­lege Maiduguri with 30 class­rooms and 1,200 pupils; Gov­ern­ment Girls Col­lege with 30 class­rooms and 1,200 pupils; CBN Quar­ters Mega School with 24 class­rooms and 960 pupils; Fu­lani Mega School with 24 class­rooms and 960 pupils; 202/303 Mega School with 40 class­rooms and 1600 pupils; Dan­gote Bilin­gual Mega School with 10 class­rooms and 800 pupils; Dikwa Road Mega School with 60 class­rooms and 2,400 pupils; and Gal­adima Area Mega School with 100 class­rooms and 4,000 pupils.

There are also Old Prison Mega School with 30 class­rooms and 1,200 pupils; Fato Sandi Mega School with 60 class­rooms and 2,400 pupils; REB Mega School with 60 class­rooms and 2,400 pupils; Ja­jeri Mega School with 30 class­rooms and 1,200 pupils; By­pass Mega School with 60 class­rooms and 2,400 pupils; Maimalari Mega School with 24 class­rooms and 960 pupils; Bu­la­b­u­lin Mega School with 18 class­rooms and 720 pupils; Bu­lumkutu Pri­mary School with 18 class­rooms and 720 pupils; Ngo­mari Pri­mary School with 18 class­rooms and 720 pupils; Zanna Mustapha Legacy Gar­den with 10 class­rooms and 400 pupils; and Gongu­long Board­ing School with 13 class­rooms and 510 pupils.

Pre­sent­ing the 2019 state bud­get to the House of As­sem­bly on Mon­day, De­cem­ber 24, 2018, Gov. Kashim Shet­tima an­nounced that the 24 schools would be com­mis­sioned in Fe­bru­ary, 2019, each with “modern tech­nol­ogy and ed­u­ca­tional re­sources that in­clude com­puter tablets and in­ter­ac­tive white­boards that aim to move Borno’s ba­sic learn­ing to a whole new level.”

The con­cen­tra­tion of the larger num­ber of these ul­tra-modern mega schools in Maiduguri and Jere is, ac­cord­ing to Gov. Shet­tima, “be­cause these or­phans have no par­ents or rel­a­tives. They are un­ac­com­pa­nied. I, Gov. Kashim Shet­tima, is the fa­ther and mother of all the 50,000 or­phans un­til May 29, 2019, in­sha Al­lah. Since they are my chil­dren, I pre­fer them to be lo­cated not far from where I live in or­der for me to cater for them.

find­ings show that about 40 of these schools have been com­pleted and are due for com­mis­sion­ing, while the re­main­ing 13 will be com­pleted be­fore May 29, ac­cord­ing to Barr. Shet­tima.

He said 2,000 grad­u­ate teach­ers had al­ready been in­ter­viewed to teach in the Mega Schools.

ob­served that all the com­pleted schools in Maiduguri and Jere have been equipped with com­put­erised teach­ing aides; and, although yet to be com­mis­sioned, have for long been in ses­sion, with the pupils pro­vided with free uni­forms, learn­ing aids and free feed­ing.

“The gov­er­nor’s pol­icy of equip­ping the schools with state-ofthe-art teach­ing and learn­ing aids aims at mak­ing pri­mary schools very at­trac­tive with the best qual­ity of learn­ing so as to lay solid foun­da­tion for the pupils to pros­per in fu­ture ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ments,” the spe­cial as­sis­tant said.

Gov. Shet­tima an­nounced dur­ing the 2019 bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion that the state gov­ern­ment in­tended to es­tab­lish the Borno State Mega Schools Man­age­ment Board to, among oth­ers, “set stan­dard, de­sign and op­er­ate a cred­i­ble and re­sult-ori­ented sus­tain­abil­ity frame­work through the cre­ation of a for­mi­da­ble and ef­fec­tive sys­tem of mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion, in­tro­duce an ef­fi­cient man­age­ment and ad­min­is­tra­tive frame­work which can guar­an­tee the sus­tained func­tion­al­ity of the schools.”

When Daily Trust went round some of the Mega Schools, the pupils/stu­dents were on hol­i­days. How­ever, the prin­ci­pals of Gov­ern­ment Col­lege, Maiduguri, and Yerwa Gov­ern­ment Girls Sec­ondary School were avail­able for the as­sess­ment of the Mega Schools project.

The Prin­ci­pal of Gov­ern­ment Col­lege Maiduguri, which hosts nine sec­ondary schools, Al­haji Abba Gana Jugudum, said, “The Mega School­ing idea was born here in this school. The gov­er­nor came here soon after the 2015 elec­tions and no­ticed the mas­sive over­crowd­ing of the class­rooms, with each hav­ing no fewer than 100 stu­dents; so we gave him the idea of ex­pand­ing the struc­tures and he bought the idea.

“Sub­se­quently, it de­vel­oped to a pro­gramme for more con­ducive blocks for pri­mary and ju­nior and se­nior sec­ondary schools.

“The com­put­erised teach­ing and learn­ing aids and the air­con­di­tioned class­rooms, I must be frank with you, have fa­cil­i­tated easy learn­ing for the stu­dents.”

Ha­jja Bintu Abba Kura, the Prin­ci­pal of Yerwa Gov­ern­ment Girls Sec­ondary School, said, “The mega school­ing ini­tia­tive has tremen­dously gin­gered the stu­dents, and, whether at the mega pri­mary schools or with us here with mega class­rooms fa­cil­i­ties, school­ing has be­come a plea­sure for the pupils who find learn­ing easy with the so­lar-pow­ered com­puter teach­ing and learn­ing aids; and now every class­room has only 40 pupils in­stead of the over 100 that hith­erto ob­tained.”

Also spec­tac­u­lar in mo­ti­vat­ing pupils to at­tend school is the im­proved qual­ity of the three square meals for them.

The Mega Schools ini­tia­tive holds mega prom­ises for a state crav­ing to emerge clean and clear out of the rub­ble of the Boko Haram in­sur­gency and stride into the fu­ture as a proud part of a pros­per­ous Nige­ria.

This will, how­ever, de­pend on the mega com­mit­ment to con­ti­nu­ity by fu­ture ad­min­is­tra­tions in the state, us­ing such in­stru­ments as the Borno State Mega Schools Man­age­ment Board.

An ae­rial view of one of the mega schools

Ma­jor­ity of the mega schools have 2-storey blocks

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.