FG to Overhaul School Infrastructure as Shettima Launches North-east Initiative

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The federal government has launched an ambitious multi-year Accelerated Senior Secondary Education Programme (ASSEP) targeted at overhauling school infrastructure, modernising curricula and integrating virtual learning technologies.
The initiative is a major policy drive to bridge the gaping educational divide in the country, beginning from the North-east region.

Unveiling the initiative in Bauchi yesterday, Vice President Kashim Shettima said the comprehensive, phased programme aims to rapidly upgrade secondary education across three core pillars, including enhancing access to tertiary institutions, imparting market-relevant skills, and upskilling teachers to stay ahead of disruptive innovations like artificial intelligence.

Shettima, according to a statement issued by his Media Assistant, Stanley Nkwocha, emphasised that the initiative directly addresses President Bola Tinubu’s vision to confront the North-east’s multifaceted challenges – from the security crisis to stagnant human capital outcomes.
According to him, each person’s current position was due to the privilege of education made possible by someone along the way who provided an environment for learning and incentives to continue, a tradition, he said, must not be broken.

In his address entitled, “Bridging the Gap: Transforming Education in the North-east, “the vice president declared that they had assembled to undertake the noble mission of safeguarding the educational opportunities that had empowered successive generations to achieve their current standing.
He noted the vast disparity in quality of life between those who embrace education and those who do not serve as a glaring and lasting reminder of the profound benefits education provides.

Stating that surveys are needed to highlight this difference, as it is evident across all facets of society, Shettima pointed out that the North-east sub-region, in particular, had been a victim of the collective failure to implement uniform policies driving school enrolment.
This, he added, is compounded by the persistent cultural aversion to formal education among various communities in the region.

According to him, “We occupy bottom-most positions in education indices, reflective of our inability to enforce uniform policies on school enrolment amid persistent cultural pushback in some communities””.

While primary education “provides the foundational interest in Western education,” the vice president said “it is secondary education that serves as the critical bridge between students and their paths to becoming self-reliant and relevant in modern society.”

Under ASSEP’s umbrella, the government at the centre will stimulate high-quality instruction, incentivise STEM achievement, revamp dilapidated classrooms to modern specifications, and cultivate an enriching academic environment through innovations like quiz competitions, exam coaching camps and intensive teacher training.

A core technological component will be scaling up virtual learning capabilities, leveraging online modules to supplement in-person instruction and narrow the digital divide.

“The North-East Development Commission (NEDC) stands firm in its mission to execute His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s vision for this geopolitical zone. Mr. President treats our challenges as top priorities, from the security lapses we have inherited to this setback in our educational pursuits,” Shettima said.

Implementation will be divided into phases – addressing urgent needs first, followed by infrastructural groundwork for expansion, before ASSEP’s comprehensive scaling across the region.

Earlier in his remarks, on behalf of governors of the North-east region, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State, pledged the support of governors from the region in the successful rollout of the programme in the area.

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