As Nigeria leads the world with the highest number of out of school children mostly in the north, Kebbi State is determined to change that figure in their state under the watch of Alhaji Muhammed Magawata, the Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education in Kebbi State. he believes that will not be the case in his state soon as they have a number of intervention lined up to tackle the issue. In an interview with PLATEAU NEWS reporter Mirian Gom, he speaks about the programme put in place by the present government to enhance the education sector among other issues.
What is the state of education in Kebbi State?
It is thriving well given the disposition of our amiable Governor who is education-friendly and for those who don’t know my Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu was a lecturer by profession, when he was in the senate he served as the Chairman, education committee. While coming on board, he gave premium to the education sector. Assuming office, he met a very deplorable basic education sector, with over 70% in public boarding school sleeping on the ground , no accommodation bed and mattresses.
When he came on board, (I’m sure that you have gone round and see that our boarding schools), Government Day schools have enough facility.
What do you think of the Cash transfer programme?
We find it very laudable and interesting because it has gingered the attendance retention of our school in a very big way. Before the cash transfer, only few schools have full attendance but now is different if you compare the three local governments that enjoyed the programme. Very soon, we in the state are planning to take over the UNICEF intervention.
With the increased school attendance, how did you intends to cope with the problem of inadequate teachers in school?
This month I was on tour of some local governments because we are recruiting about 2000 staff. I went to all the LG headquarters, after recruitment of the 2000 we will start giving the offer Insha Allah. We designed a very nice format that will enable us give automatic offer to anyone who made ‘A’. Most university graduates are not qualified to teach. There was a time I brought a graduate here, he could not define economics. In fact, in Argungu we had to call the official to sit down at the interview place to see for himself. None of the students could write correct sentence in English, example is one that said he had double major including Shorthand, it is appalling. For me when I came on board, out of about 67 boarding schools, 123 day schools and about 107 junior secondary schools, I made sure that everything went well. Now we had about 17 courses.
Asides project 2020, what are the mechanism put in place by the Government and to ensure sustainability of the programme when the donors exit?
Our hands are on deck to make sure that we continue with the programme. I told you Kebbi state spent 280 million on feeding. We have built 40 nomadic schools and identified 504 almajiri Islamic schools. We will make necessary renovations for them and make sure that we send mathematics and English teachers to them and by 2020, our volume of OSC will be very low and depleted. We will be the least in the north.
What measures has government put in place to reduce the high rate of Hawkers?
Kebbi is bordering two countries, the Republic of Niger and Benin. Around this time annually, there is an influx of their children for greener pasture into the country. The Governor witnesses this situation firsthand two years ago. He saw two trucks filled with children of various school ages, he stopped them to inquire and they said they were going to Zaria. When it is rainy season, you won’t see them. They would have gone back for farming. Although in our state we identified about Eight hundred thousand and something at the moment, during the rainy season the number goes down to about four hundred to five hundred thousand. That is when we discovered that the influx from Niger Republic and Benin Republic is the cause.
What efforts has the state put in place to curtail the influx of illegal migrants into the state?
We are all the same family and we’ll see what we can do by making arrangements with traditional rulers. We are providing support, under the intervention, we have different programmes. First, we have the job intervention where we have the popular N-power and under the N-power alone we have 10, 000 volunteers that are posted to several places of assignment and over 6,000 posted to our schools.
With our feeding programme, primary school pupils from primary 1 to 3 are provided with one meal per day. We have about 2,000 primary schools across the states and these schools are captured. Today, we have 294,000 pupils on the rogramme. Monday to Friday making 20 days in a month. This is our third month into the project. There are people who don’t require support but because of one connection or the other, they get the opportunities. But under the state social intervention, we are targeting poor and vulnerable households. These are people that cannot even help themselves including non-indegenes.