Ugo Aliogo was in Gombe State,
visited some public schools and writes on the sorry state of
infrastructures which make learning an uphill task

From Gombe metropolis to Akko, Nafada and
Balanga, from Billiri to Kaltungo, Shongom to Yamaltu-Deba, Kwami, Dukku and Funakaye, are shameful sights of dilapidated buildings, absence of learning materials let alone welfare packages to motivate the students. The infrastructures are nothing to write home about; some buildings are on the verge of collapse, while some are swimming pools during rainy season. Renovations are not done. The working condition is bad, classrooms are small, broken chairs and tables litter the floor. Walls are now used as chalkboards. New students are admitted every year with no adequate plans for the erection of buildings and facilities. Ventilation is poor.

 

Teachers go to classes with towels and handkerchiefs to wipe sweat from their brows and faces coupled with hand fan to aid ventilation. The staff rooms are stuffy. Both the students and teachers sit on woods in some schools. The environment is not conducive for learning and teaching. Students were seen in small groups, while some were discussing, others were cooking in an unhygienic setting. To also make pocket money, one of them was seen cutting the hair of others and charging them N50. Such is the fate of students in Government Science Secondary School in Kaltungo Local Government Area of the state.

Some teachers were on ground and gladly took this reporter round the large expanse of land hosting the secondary school. All the laboratories are no longer functional. Nothing seems to be working in the entire school. One of the teachers who preferred anonymity told THISDAY that the poor working condition and the absence of motivation and remuneration reduces teachers’ commitment.

“Salaries are not paid regularly, teachers are only motivated by their intrinsic values and that is for those who love teaching. The absence of the extrinsic values in terms of regular and high salaries, good working condition and promotion at the appropriate time drain the teachers’ morale to teach.

“If they are not motivated, they will not give their best and only the God-fearing ones will go to classes to teach, and if teachers don’t teach, the appropriate learning process will not take place. The students come to school with nothing new to learn.” Another teacher who wouldn’t want his name mentioned, said Hassan Governor Dakwambo has completely neglected the sector just like other areas of the economy. He regretted that the same governor is seeking to contest for presidency despite his failures in the state.

One of the students who introduced himself as
Ismaila Aliyu, said they were writing their examination and
that was why they are still around. “We are suffering.
Nobody cares about us but we are just determined to endure
and pass through this stage. The government has abandoned
us. It is a boarding school but there is no food for us to
eat. Even our hostels are all in bad shape. There are no
roofs in many of the buildings as you can see and when it is
raining, all of us here will move to one of the hostels that
is still manageable.

Another sad development noticed in Gombe State beside the primary and secondary schools is that there are higher institution that are inaugurated but are not yet functional in spite of the fact they were declared ready and inaugurated for take-off. One of these is the University of Science and Technology in Kumo. From the main gate, gigantic buildings, lecture halls and other administrative buildings have been taken over by bushes. The institution that should be churning out graduates has become home for reptiles and other animals. One imagines why the resources that were sunk into building those structures were wasted. Another is the College of Education in Billiri. Although functional, the only visible building beside the main gate is the administrative building and a few lecture halls.

THISDAY spoke with a second year Integrated Science student, Aishat Bello. She complained of the deficit in infrastructure and appealed to the governor to equip the school. According to her, they have a clinic but it is like a mortuary because there are no drugs at all to take care of their medical needs. The state also boasts of an abandoned College of Nursing and Midwifery in Dukku. Bushes have overtaken the school. No academic programme is going on there in spite of all the billions of naira that went into it.

“Sadly, the level, quality and standard of education in the state has witnessed a geometric
drop and this unfortunate trend has made the state rated low in national examinations. As the administration of Dakwambo comes to a close next year, it is expected that the people would elect a governor that is education-friendly.

“An administrator who would overhaul the education sector and introduce world-class learning facilities with a dedicated workforce; pay special attention to education and ensure that all tiers of institutions are equipped with adequate manpower and conducive learning environment. World class education is needed to empower the people and the best investment is in the intellectual development which only quality education can guarantee.”

The education system needs to be cleaned up. There are no facilities in virtually all the government-owned primary and secondary schools visited. No toilets, no water and no electricity. The current administration has neglected the sector and other areas of the economy that could have improved the lives of the people despite the enormous financial resources it has received.

Without education, every other empowerment is nothing. Majority of the indigenes are out of school. Gombe needs someone that will invest in education and turn around the sorry state in order to ensure the prosperity of the people. Teachers need to be empowered and learning made enjoyable to all students. School drop-out should be encouraged to return to school and generally make living better for the people rather than pay lip service to governance.”Education is the fulcrum of the nation’s development. It is the foundation upon which all other sectors are built. If the foundation is faulty, it is not likely to produce any good product.

Sadly, the poor citizens are at the receiving end. The bourgeoisie is exploiting the proletariat. The rich politicians are sending their children to study abroad sponsoring them with the nation’s resources. The children of the poor citizens are struggling and competing for the available pieces of the junk and remnants of the National cake.

No wonder Karl Marx said the society will always be in status quo. The rich will become richer while the poor poorer. Occupants of the upper social class are protecting their children from witnessing the consequences of their actions leaving the innocent ones to bear the brunt.

Financial resources are not used for what they are meant for. The allocated budget for the sector is being embezzled for personal use. The government no longer focuses on the education sector. There is no more free education and the so-called free education is not free. Exorbitant money is paid as school fees and all sorts of levies. Some people drop out of school as a result of the inability to pay fees. Students lose admission into tertiary institution due to lack of financial resources. Scholarships are reducing at a rapid rate. The scholarships that are meant for the less privileged are being channeled to the rich. There is politics in the educational sector. Schools have turned into financial institutions and business centres.

Hence, teachers go on strike in order to make demands and negotiations. There is always a conflict between the union leaders (ASUU and NUT) and the government as to the problems encountered by the education sector. Schools are closed down for months and the government will not move an inch in trying to resolve the disagreement. The lackadaisical and selfish attitude is so because their wards and children are not schooling in the country. Gombe, usually referred to as Gombe State to distinguish it from the city of Gombe, is located in the north-eastern part of Nigeria. The boundaries of the state roughly correspond to those of the Tangale-Waja Chiefdom and Gombe Emirate, a traditional state.

Demography

Gombe State is a multi-ethnic society which comprises the dominant Fulani tribe, which inhabits the northern part of the state and Tangale which occupies the southern part of the state.

Other ethnicities such as the Tera, Waja, Bolewa, Kanuri and Hausa with their different cultural as well as lingual affiliations. The second largest ethnic group is the Tera which occupies greater part of Yamaltu Deba Local Government. Gombe State is also blessed with some minority ethnic group among others Dadiya, Waja and which occupy a sizeable part of some areas of southern part of the state. The state capital, Gombe, is a reflection of the heterogeneity of the state.

The state, nicknamed the Jewel of Excellence, was formed in October 1996 from part of the old Bauchi State by the late Abacha military government. Its location in the north-eastern zone within the expansive Savannah, allows the state to share common borders with the Borno, Yobe, Taraba, Adamawa and Bauchi States.

The state has an area of 20,265 km². Gombe has two distinct climates, the dry season (November-March) and the rainy season (April-October) with an average rainfall of 850mm. Gombe has 11 local government areas and 14 emirates/chiefdoms.