By Ahmad Bala Abdullahi Gaduwama
Although Jigawa state may not boast of being home to most qualitative education on offer, it still by no means the worst in quality, output & performance. A 2017 study report classified 11 states of Ondo, FCT, Ebonyi, Rivers, Imo, Anambra, Enugu, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Delta & Lagos as best performers, at same time classifying 10 others, as most uneducated states in Nigeria, with Yobe topping the list, followed by Zamfara, Katsina; Sokoto, Bauchi, Kebbi & Niger in sequencial order. It however couldnt escape classification of states with huge out-of-school children, along with Bauchi, Kebbi, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto & Zamfara.
The states boasts of a combined 8.739 million of the country’s total of out-of-school children. A writer, one Ajibola Amzat in July 2017 opines that *States in Northern Nigeria, for many years, have lagged behind in Education; but not for lack of funding*, arguing data on literacy index published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed the huge gap in Educational development between Southern & Northern Nigeria shows no signs of closing up, over 60yrs after independence. The States where majority can neither read nor write are also in the Northeast, Northwest & North-central regions of Nigeria, with Yobe 7.23% cent literacy level, as the lowest in the country, followed by Zamfara; Katsina; Sokoto; Bauchi; Kebbi; and Niger respectively. Here also, Jigawa managed to regain some positives.
Compare that to Imo with the highest literacy level of 96.43%, followed by Lagos (96.30%); Ekiti (95.79%); Rivers (95.76%); Abia (94.24%); Anambra (92.11 %); Osun (90.57%); Edo (90.53%); & Cross River (89%).
But while Education profile of the Northern region is generally low compared to the South, the states are not disadvantaged in terms of the monthly Federal Government statutory allocation & can therefore not completely attribute their educational backwardness to resource allocation. It is therefore more of the question of effective utilization of such resources than anything else.
It is on record, the eight year tenure of Gov Sule Lamido (2007-2015), witnessed an unprecedented investment & funds injection in the Jigawa State Educational sector, particularly in personnel recruitment & training, expansion of physical infrustructure & massive procurement of educattional working materials & equipments, including Text Books, Computers & Information Technology related teaching aides, enhancement in Welfare of staff & students, as well as many other positives.
Had that trend bren sustained, Jigawa State would by today be an eldarado of educational persuit, atleast in Northern Nigeria. Parents particularly from neighboring states would have been falling over one another to have their children enrolled in Jigawa State Colleges. Tragically however, this commitment couldn’t last long. Soon, rot & decay set in, particularly induced by blinded desperation to save cost of governance.
And nowhere has this shift in policy been more adverse, than in girl-child education. According to a renown development expert & one time Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Dr. Usman Shamsudeen, (speaking on a World Bank released Statistics), during a 2021 Northern Nigeria Economic & Investment Summit, argued: *the North has the highest number of out-of-school children, not only in Nigeria, but in the whole world*, buttressing the claim, that girl-child school enrolment in the Northeast & Northwest in 2011 were 20% & 25% respectively, while Southwest & Southeast had 85%, & Southsouth 75%. This was also corroborated by the World Bank.
Dr. Shamsudeen blamed Northern Politicians for showing marginal commitment to developing education in the region. 6yrs after this expert advise, the literacy level in the North remains stunted as reflected in the latest National Board of Statistics (NBS) data.
It is in the aforementioned context one will situate & better appreciate the rescent strides & reform measures emberked by Mallam Umar Namadi.
Nowhere has previous governments indifference, negligence & nonchalance created greater social & moral decay, than in the deboarding of girls Colleges, in a typical Muslim Society renown for arch conservatism & strict adharence to moral & religious norms & values. Grown up girls were made accustomed to motorcycle ride, conveyed to & from schools, in most distardly, decadent & immoral manners, girls freely hawked on major streets & places of male youths social assemblages, particularly in the evenings & nights. And at night, College girls, that are supposed to be in their prep classes, or in their domitories, now consider it a routine to host suitors at home. How possible is it, to combine the aforementioned, with any serious study? The cumulative consequences of these practices take their toll on any sincere commitment to education. On the contrary, it is the gradual accumulation of the dividend of moral decay & rot, that take over.
Although Jigawa State has over the years witnessed impressive expansion in infrastructure in schools, a recent UNESCO Report suggests that many schools in the North, still lack adequate Classroom space, furniture & equipments.
Moreover, many are often too remotely located & inaccessible to encourage enrollment, and regular monitoring. Many also lack staff accommodation, Water, Health and sanitation facilities, which are critical to staff settling to make positive contributions. In Jigawa State in particular inadequate, the pupil-teacher ratio remains extremely low & scaring in female Colleges, where one comes accross a girls boarding College, with about 1000 students enrolment, with practically no female teaching & non teaching personel, except pherhaps the Principal & aged Hostel Matrons. The multiflier consequences of the de-boarding policy can therefore better be imagined.
Danmodi’s resolve to re-board girls Colleges in the face of acute resources, must be viewed as a commendable, bold & courageous initiative of prioritizing public wellbeing, over & above any desire to conserve resources & reduce cost of governance.
While appreciating this bold initiative however, Gov. Umar Namadi may equally be advised to be practical & pragmatic in his approach to issues. His rescent timely intervention in settling the Registration Fees of the Jigawa indigenes unable to pay, thereby saving their education, is a clear manifestation of pragmatism. Re-boarding Girl Colleges, must therefore not be left as an exercise in isolation. It must be complimented by sufficient provision of working materials, receuitment & training of teaching & non personnel, as well as restoration of faith & confidence building of the Jigawa State Education & rest other personnel. Overzealousness of newly appointed Political office holders, desperate to impress, must never be encouraged, for it only dumpens personnel morale & enthusiasm. Let us never forget to appreciative the peculiar Jigawa State working circumstances.
Many of its working personnel have spent the better part of their career, tirelessly striving to get the state where it is. It will be irrational & counter productive, for overzealous & exuberant newly appointed Politicians, too eager to impress, many of whom have never endured any inconvenience in service to the state & will immediately vanish, the day they loose their positions, to begin to harass & intimidate workers.
As Gov Namadi strives to take Jigawa girl-child off the streets, he might also be reminded to come to terms with prevailing security realities. Although Jigawa State has remained relatively peaceful, rescent happenings in neighboring states, calls for greater vigilance. The security personnel, in most Jigawa State institutions, particularly the boarding colleges call for a more critical re-evaluation, to enable the state get value for service.
As you continue striving to giving Jigawa state & its peoples quality service & stewardship, we continue to beseech Allah, Almighty to continue to support, guide & protect you.
I humbly remain, as always
Writes from Ramin-Hudu Qtrs, in Hadejia Metropolis, of Jigawa State, Nigeria.