Stakeholders rally to improve teaching, learning in northern region

Cross section of participants during the workshop

Cross section of participants during the workshop

Disturbed by the dwindling quality of education in northern Nigeria, stakeholders converged on the College of Islamic Sciences (CIS), Zamfara State, to brainstorm on how to advance teaching and learning and also uplift standard of living in the zone.

The three-day workshop featured various presentations from different speakers who in their respective remarks charted  a new path on improving the standard of education and putting an end to poverty, deprivation and aimlessness in the region.

Founder of the college, retired General Aliyu Muhammad Gusau, in his remarks emphasised the imperativeness of education to human development.
“The development that education has gathered in contemporary world has been the main driving force that propels all nations and communities around the world to crave for the acquisition of knowledge,” he said

Corroborating Gusau’s submission, Principal of the college, Alhaji Muhammad Bello Muktar, stressed that concerted effort should be made to improve the standard of education in the North, so that the region would tap from the immense benefit inherent in quality education.

He said, “If you look back, you will agree with me that the standard of education in this region is very low. We understand that one of the factors that affects learning in this country is the issue of retraining and motivation of teachers and that is why the college is coming up with this capacity teacher-training workshop.

“The college management and its council agreed to organise the seminar for teachers and education managers not only from the college, but also from north western states like Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano and Zamfara.”

He added that at the end of the exercise the college would definitely come up with a blueprint on regular training programmes for teachers. Reflecting on the 23 years existence of the College, which was established in 1993, Muktar, said, “CIS is one of the best schools, not only in Zamfara State, but in all the northern part of the country and Nigeria in general. The college has produced respectable graduates in all endeavours.

“In the university system, they said they award degrees to students in character and learning. Here I am proud to say we graduate our students both in character and learning as well as high sense of responsibility.”

He continued, “Just last year, the college had a student that graduated in 2005 who is now a medical doctor. We have a lot of engineers, lawyers, teachers and other various professionals in other disciplines. We are proud of that. So far, we have graduated more than 3,000 students from this college.”

On students enrolment, he said, “Our current students’ enrolment is 1,300, and it is gender sensitive. We have 495 girls and about 860 boys so the gender is almost balanced 1-3 ratio. Also, we have a lot of non-Muslim teachers in this college. But considering the name of the college, the college was established as Islamiyya College, and then the council and management decided to change the focus of the college so that it can have a true balance of western as well as the Islamic education”.

“And then, about 35 per cent of teachers are Christians, and we don’t show any disparity between our Muslim teachers and non-Muslim teachers.
However, considering the nature of the school, we have 100 per cent Muslim students in this college, because most of the students are from this area.”

Meanwhile, former member of the National Assembly, Dr. Usman Bugaje, who delivered a paper at the workshop, also decried the dwindling influence of both Islamic and western education in the growth of Nigeria’s socio-economic development, saying that the nation must imbibe the proper attributes of the two paradigms for genuine growth.

According to Bagaje, the pursuit of knowledge, which should transform character must be vigorously pursued by all Nigerians in other to salvage the nation, adding that unless the people imbibe the approach the benefits of acquiring knowledge at all levels for development would be lost.

He said, “Knowledge in Islam has a purpose. Knowledge is supposed to lead us to understand and appreciate our source and origin, our Lord and Creator, Allah, the Most High, for only then can we truly revere and worship Him. This is precisely why He said in the Qur’an that it is the people of Knowledge, the ‘ulama’, who revere and worship Him most”.

“For knowledge to serve its purpose, we need more than just knowledge, we need character. One of the major tragedies of our days is that while the knowledge of Islam is growing and spreading, the actual Islamic character is lacking. This increasing severance between knowledge and character is one of the greatest challenges facing educators today”.

He continued, “CIS was established to address some of these problems, including the disconnect between character and learning. One of the primary objectives is to provide the best of comprehensive education with a matching character to go with it so that education becomes useful to our communities. It is therefore important that we find creative ways of ensuring that our students acquire critical Islamic values along with quality knowledge in arts and science.”

Solution to all problems, he argued, has always come from knowledge and that knowledge-based solutions have always been sustainable. “It is evident that the methods of Shehu Usman Bn Fodio and his disciples, Shehu Abdullahi and Sultan Muhammad Bello are particularly effective. Not only were they able to transform their society but they were able to sustain the influence of the Islamic value system over nearly two centuries.
Admittedly in their times the leaders were also the ulama, because there was no way anybody could lead without knowledge and character.”

“Today our leaders are not ulama (scholars) and our ulama are not leaders and in severing knowledge from leadership we have ended up with leaders that are not knowledgeable and knowledge that is not useful. Are we surprised that we have no water, nor fuel, no electricity, as the American would say, ‘we have no nothing’?”

“CIS seeks to produce ulama who would be leaders and leaders who would be ulama and hopefully end this seemingly endless vicious circle poverty, deprivation and aimlessness. Our speakers must not lose sight of this important objective as they boost the capacity of our teachers in this workshop.”

Commending the proprietor of the college, he added, “This is not just the business of the proprietor or the governing council of the CIS, it the business of community leaders, senior citizens and of government at every level.”



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