The Zamfara State Government must pay more attention to primary education

The number of out-of-school children, particularly in the northern part of Nigeria, has been on a steady rise for the past few years. According to the latest report, over 10 million children of school age are out school in that region alone. A major contributor to that hefty figure is Zamfara where the Education Board Chairman, Hon. Adamu Jangebe, recently made startling revelations on the deplorable condition of primary education in the state.

Receiving a children advocacy group, Save the Children, in Zamfara, Jangebe told his visitors that the state was in chronic shortage of primary school teachers. He lamented that as a result, not fewer than 300 public primary schools in the state are manned by a single teacher each. Many more schools in remote rural communities, he said, have no teacher at all, leaving the children to their own devices with all the dire consequences for the future of our country.

This is a depressing revelation that should attract national attention to the worsening state of primary education, not only in the state but in the entire country. Across the country today, several studies and reports speak volumes about the abject neglect of infrastructure in schools. And to worsen matters, it does not appear as if the relevant authorities as well as critical stakeholders are paying attention.

In many rural communities, classrooms are an essential commodity with the result that children study under trees. In the urban centres that have the luxury of being provided with classrooms, many of them are dilapidated with leaking roofs, cracked walls and without windows. In many cases, children sit on the floor as there are no reading tables and chairs for them.

Given the unfriendly and harsh school environment it is only natural that children would resist going to school even as other social and economic factors collude to restrain primary school enrolment nationwide, but particularly in northern Nigeria.
But the situation in Zamfara is even worse. Children, who in spite of the unattractive conditions of their schools, still wanted to learn are unable to do so because government is unable to provide them with teachers.

There is a consensus that the deplorable state of education in the country is traceable to the fact that politicians do not care about fixing the sector because they can afford to send their children overseas. Yet the provision of quality and affordable education is one of the sacred duties of government since they provide the needed human capital necessary for development.

The unfortunate development in Zamfara therefore calls for a comprehensive rebuke of the government of that state for its nonchalant attitude towards the education of its children. We wonder how, in spite of millions of naira allocated to education annually, the state came to this sorry pass. Yet without basic education, the future of children in the state is already mortgaged with the attendant danger of making them susceptible to anti-social vices. Indeed ample evidence exists that the social miscreants and religious bigots, including the Boko Haram insurgents that have marooned the North-east of the country today, are largely recruited from the army of uneducated people who grew up without any hope for their future.

The Zamfara State government, therefore, needs to reorder its priorities and pay more attention to primary education in terms of provision of basic infrastructure, teachers and teaching tools. Although primary education is the responsibility of local governments, we urge the state government to see the situation as an emergency that requires urgent attention. It should, therefore, intervene by embarking on a massive recruitment and training of teachers for the public schools. It is an urgent imperative.