Despite efforts aimed at developing education over the years in Katsina state, most people in the state still criticize its educational standard. Most of the elites in different forum continue to express divergent views as regards educational development in Katsina, as most of them blame the present administration of Governor Shema for poor performance and lack of seriousness that resulted in massive failure in public examinations.
Blueprint reliably gathered that most of the schools across the state, both secondary and tertiary, have benefitted from different projects, financed with N70 Billion by the present administration, within the period of 5 years. Still, the sector still faces enormous challenges.
Dr Usman Bugaje, a chieftain of Action Congress of Nigerian (ACN) and a governorship candidate of the party in the 2011 elections, said in one of his recent publication, that Katsina state still remains an educational disadvantaged state due to the severe problems facing almost all sub-sectors of the system.
“Due to poor planning of projects, poor monitoring and evaluation, ineffective quality control and lack of sufficient attention accorded to girl–child education, the gifted and the disabled and non–formal education, educational progress is still nil, in the state,” he said.
According to Bugaje, massive failure in national examinations makes it difficult for Katsina state students to qualify for direct admission into the university. Bugaje pointed out that the inability of Katsina state to implement, effectively, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) scheme, particularly in the area of enrolment and transition from primary to junior secondary school, was another area of great concern.
“There is, therefore, the need to look at all faces of the system closely and dispassionately with a view to re-focussing the entire system to serve the developmental imperatives of the state and its citizenry,” he added. Bugaje cited the inadequacy in the number of qualified teachers at all levels, especially in core subject areas, like English and Mathematics.
Dr Bugaje was of the opinion that the state leadership should put efforts in ensuring prudence in the utilization of available funds to make the deployment of resources more effective, value-driven and result-oriented. He said there is the urgent need to upgrade the quality of tuition and to ensure adequate provision of teaching – learning facilities so as to improve examination scores and absorption of students into tertiary institutions. He said the academic programmes in all levels of education should be streamlined to ensure that they serve the needs of the state.
Former commissioner of education, Dr Mustapha Inuwa, told Blueprint that the entire educational sector is moving in an aberrant manner in the state. Dr Inuwa, who shed tears while explaining the poor state of education in Katsina, said the future of every child in the state is hanging due to misplacement of priority in the educational sector, since the inception of the present administration.
The CPC chieftain, who was also an ex-secretary to the state government, alleged that the entire educational legacies left by the former government of Umaru Musa Yar’adua are collapsing.
He said: “It is unfortunate that, today every person in Katsina state
must pay a loan of N250,000 out of the 74 million US Dollars borrowed by the state recently, in the name of building unnecessary 350-housing units in Abuja, while there is insufficiency and lack of proper utilization of instructional materials and equipment at all levels of the educational system.
“We heard how the state government was busy telling the public on how N15 billion was spent in four tertiary institutions in the state, but there is nothing to write home about them. The Governor is claiming glory for the state university project named after the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, which is not true.”
He averred that, the project of the state university was a sole project of the late President Yar’adua while a governor.
Professor Aminu Kado Kurfi is the present commissioner for education
in Katsina. He told Blueprint in an interview that education is the number one item on the priority list of Governor Shema’s administration, with over N70 billion expended through the execution of various projects within the period of 5 years.
The commissioner said that a 10-year (2011-2020) state education sector strategic plan has been developed through wide consultations and intensive stakeholder participation, as a roadmap for the realization of the state vision and mission.
He said: “Between 2007 and 2011, there was a remarkable increase in
student enrolment. This is as a result of the waiver of all forms of school fees, construction of more classroom/laboratories/workshops, rehabilitation of existing infrastructures, provision of teaching and learning materials, recruitment of additional qualified teachers, promotion of teachers, increase of salaries and prompt payment.”
Kurfi said that there was a recent school enrolment increase to over 720,170 students. Of these, he said, 477,805 were male. According to him, since the cancellation of all fees in public secondary schools in 2008, the state government, in collaboration with the 34 local government areas, has taken full responsibility for the payment of public examination fees, such as WAEC, NECO, NABTEB and NBAIS. He said the government has so far spent over N1.2 billion was to achieve this.
“Over N10 Billion was expended on the school expansion programme and the supply of adequate infrastructural facilities such as classrooms, equipped laboratories, computer centres, libraries, toilet, examination halls, school fencing within the periods,” he said. Yet, the commissioner did not dispute the fact that the problems facing education in the state is serious. He said: “Our major challenge is not common to Katsina is the issue of man power, because quality and quantity of manpower is the most critical factor, if you are talking of education, not the number of beautiful buildings or the number of students, no matter what be the beauty of storey buildings. Everything you have, if you don’t have the right personnel to teach, you have a major problem, which is one of our challenges here in Katsina.”
Special Adviser on Higher Education to the governor, Dr, Garba Shehu Matazu, acknowledged that Governor Shema was not the brain behind the construction of Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, but however said the Governor contributed immensely before he became the state Governor.
Matazu in a chat with our correspondent recently, said: “Quote me anywhere, I say it loudly, Governor Shema did not construct the state university, and he is not claiming so have done so. But he contributed a lot on the progress of the university.”
He claimed that in the whole Northern Nigeria, Katsina has the best university. In terms of funding, he also claimed, the state has the best polytechnic and college of education, due to the efforts of the present state administration. “Government is spending most on education, especially our tertiary institutions. Presently over N15 Billion was spent in providing educational tools and good condition of learning in the state. Even the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’I, was short of word when she visited the institutions recently,” he said.
Historical accounts indicate that the first Northern region college was established in Katsina in 1923. No doubt, education remains the backbone of meaningful progress and development of any society. But with pummels from all sides against the centre, can the centre still hold? Without cooperation by all and a snail-speed development by the government, industry watchers fear, education in Katsina may not play its societal role after all.