‘Kaduna State is integrating Almajiri schools into conventional system’
Kaduna State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Andrew Nok, in this interview with Northern Bureau Chief, SAXONE AKHAINE, speaks on the current developments in the education sector in the state; the school feeding programme, problems posed by efforts to educate Almajiri children as well as steps taken to address infrastructural decay among other issues.
The problem of Almajiri children
You do know that the bill with regards to compulsory education has been passed in the state. And its implementation commences this month. And you also know that we have free primary and secondary schools. And that implies that no one has the reason now to say ‘I don’t have a chance to go to school.’ For the Almajiri system, we are going to completely get it integrated into the conventional education system. But, be that as it may, I will say yes, we are still managing the Almajiri schools that we have. On this issue, we are working in conjunction with the Ministry of Women Affairs, alongside other stakeholders. We already have a document that is before the State Executive Council. Hopefully in a fortnight, we will be able to discuss it concretely. All these are to fit in within the major framework that we intend to deploy i n ensuring that our children have the best of education.
Alleged suspension of school feeding programme
The programme has not been suspended and we are still on it. Weekly, we have the education intervention committee meeting on Wednesdays. During this meeting, we take stock of all what transpired in the school feeding programme in the past week, including problems faced. We take reports from all the education secretaries in the 23 local councils. Yes, there are hiccups in the programme sometimes, but we try to deploy all we could to mitigate some of the problems.
What we intend to do in the next feeding session is that we are starting afresh. We will advertise the forms, which would be available in primary schools, at the ministry, the Government House, and several other places. The forms will completely capture those details we are looking out for, including bank numbers of the vendors; the schools, which they aspire to operate, and all etc. Now, the reason we are doing this is so that by the time we activate this money, it will be paid straight to the vendors. We are actually developing a template; and we will soon have a meeting of the education intervention committee, where we will develop a model, where about 10 or 15 vendors would be supervised by one assessor or so. The aim of this is to actually ensure that each and every vendor works tirelessly according to what we have stipulated. Secondly, we intend to deploy android phones to all school headmasters to enable them send information and photographs to the appropriate quarters regarding on-goings in the feeding programme in their schools. These are some of what we intend to do to improve the school feeding programme. But, certainly the feeding programme has not being suspended.
Schools undergoing renovation in the phase one of schools’ modernisation
There are 15 of them. But we are still working on the bill with regards to the cost. We are pursuing this vigorously because we have competent workers who have done a good job for us in the primary and secondary schools renovations that we intend to deploy so that we ensure that these things are fast-tracked. Hopefully, as we come to give you update on this, I will oblige you of the total cost of the schools’ upgrade. Let me also say that we are not just doing plain renovation. We intend to also upgrade the school’s laboratories as well.
Before now, most of the schools had multi-user laboratories, whereas in actual fact, we should have separate laboratories for biology, chemistry, physics, agricultural science and home economics. It is unacceptable to have multi-user laboratories. So, upgrading of infrastructure in primary and secondary schools are ongoing.
Having started with the primary schools, attention is now focused on secondary schools, even though we got inundated with problems of rainstorms taking off some of our roofs; we are addressing that separately so that some of these leakages would be stopped. Beyond getting these schools repaired and made habitable for our students, we are also addressing the problem of water supply in schools, by putting in place functional boreholes. Here, we intend to engage full-fledged professionals to handle the boreholes to ensure that we get value for money.
Deployment of volunteer teachers to schools in the State
We have communicated with the volunteers already and we hope that by the time we commence the new session, we would be able to have them on board. Let me also add that in the recently introduced “Level 17 Director Tutors,” we had 15 to 17 people who were able to scale the hurdle during the interview to get to that status. They are meant to augment what we have in schools. As people at the level of permanent secretaries, they would actually be more like role models, and would help us beef up the teaching base so that we have quality education going on in our schools.
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