Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
Governor Muhammadu Yahaya of Gombe State has commenced the distribution of school uniforms and bags containing writing materials to pupils in public schools and girl-child learning centres in the state.
Performing the exercise in Jalingo Primary School, Furnakaye Local Government Area, he said the distribution of the materials demonstrates his administration’s commitment to improving the quality of education in the state through the provision of instructional materials and basic support to pupils in various public schools across the state.
The governor expressed hope that the gesture will help increase the enrolment level and enhance the quality of teaching and learning in public schools with a view to producing pupils who will go on to excel in higher stages of life in future.
He regretted that over the years, the state used to be ranked among the poorly performed states in national examinations, as such his government saw the need to change the narrative through sound education policies.
He added that his administration met an education system that was ravaged by inadequate and decayed infrastructure, large number of out-of school children and a teaching work force that is poorly trained and motivated.
The governor said through concerted efforts, his government declared a state of emergency in the sector and deployed a broad-based approach to deal with the educational challenges in the state.
He said the government took necessary actions to improve basic literacy level by venturing into the federal government/World Bank project of Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) to ensure the mopping up of out-of- school children and returning them to formal learning centres.
“Among other steps taken was conversion and renovation of the dilapidated and abandoned almajiri school in Kwami into a teacher training centre to serve as a capacity building citadel for teachers in the state.”
He lauded the concerted efforts by BESDA and SUBEB as well as development partners such as USAID and UNICEF in supporting the state towards revamping education in the state through training and retraining of teachers.
“Other areas of focus in improving education in the state is the renovation of schools across the state to ensure that a conducive atmosphare of learning is put in place for pupils and teachers.”
He added that from September 2019-March 2020 the state government through BESDA project was able to enroll over 200,000 out of school children, ranging from almajiri/tsangaya school category to girl-child education.
The governor, who urged traditional leaders and parents to suppport government in the sensitisation and mobilisation, also charged the SUBEB and BESDA officials to be fair and transparent in distributing the materials.
He said his administration is committed to free sponsorship of all wards with disability, pledging to personally sponsor an eight-year-old visually impaired pupil, Muhammad Ahmad who was at the occasion with the help of a guide.
He said he will personally fund from his pocket, the educational expenses of the boy from primary to any level he aspires to attain.
The Commissioner of Education, Dr. Habu Dahiru assured the guests that the state ministry of education will continue to ensure that the statutory mandate of the ministry- promoting quality educational policies- is sustained.
He noted that the ministry closely supports and monitors the basic education projects to ensure it becomes a success.
The commissioner commended Yahaya for re-introducing the mock examination which he said will henceforth be used as a yardstick of students’ sponsorship in WAEC/NECO.
He expressed hope that the restored policy will make impact on students’ performance in the senior school certificate examinations.
In his remarks, the BESDA State Coordinator, Dr. Abdullahi Garkuwa lauded educational initiatives of the Yahaya administration and the committment of other development partners towards the BESDA project, attributing the successes recorded by the project in the state to the governor’s positive disposition.
The Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, Babaji Babadidi attributed the menace of out-of-school children to poverty, socio-economic, cultural benefits and security challenges. He applauded the governor for taking necessary measures to nip the situation in the bud.
Over 200,000 pupils are expected to benefit from the distribution of free uniforms and learning materials.