On Ganduje’s education budget
The government of Kano state is walking its big talk on education as it allocates a lion share of the state budget estimates to education for two consecutive years now with a view to ensuring the transformation of the vital sector. Since the proclamation of Free and Compulsory Basic and Secondary Education Policy in his inaugural address for second term in office in May, 2019 and subsequent launch of the programme in October, 2019, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has not relented in his effort to muster the political will to effectively implement the capital intensive policy and to confronting the various problems weighing against functioning of the sector.
While presenting the 2021 budget proposal to the state House of Assembly, on Tuesday, Ganduje announced the allocation of N37.8 billion representing 25 per cent of the total budget, less than 5 per cent of last year, to education to sustain and improve on the success so far achieved in the implementation of the policy in the state. Out of this, the sum of N6.3 billion has been set aside to improve conducive atmosphere of learning in tertiary institutions, while 21.8 billion is for the improvement of post basic education.
Recall that in the 2020 budget, which had to be revised to capture realities that cushion the disruptions caused by the adverse effect of COVID-19 pandemic, the Ganduje administration earmarked to the education sector 30 per cent of the total 2020 revised budget.
The policy is a remarkable shift in the development priority of the state government which is strategically but not totally moving away from massive investment in urban infrastructure development, done with the aim of turning Kano into a Mega City to focus on human capital development.
It is the conviction of the Ganduje administration that the best and simplest way to disseminate knowledge to all those who deserve it is through free education. With the implementation of the policy, many children who had been out of school have now been enrolled in school and provided with the opportunity to pursue an education. Expectedly, the policy provides opportunities to all school-age children to gain access to quality education for a full cycle of basic education.
In view of this daunting challenge, it will be gratifying to that the government, which last year set up a committee to conduct a census of all out-of-school children with a view to updating the available data and ensuring adequate planning in preparation for the implementation of this all-important education policy has collected a report. This will further consolidate the commitment of the state government to the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), a UNICEP programme, which is aimed at ensuring equitable access to basic education for out-of-school-children.
Indeed, the launching of free, compulsory basic and secondary education policy has made serious impact with the reduction of the data of out-of-school children in Kano from 1,306,106 to 410,873, from 2015 to 2019. (Refer to the National Education Data Survey (NEDS) Report of 2015 which shows that, Kano had (then) the highest number of out-of-school children with 1,306,106.) The terrifying report then prompted Governor Ganduje to take the issue with all seriousness, with measures aimed at addressing the situation squarely.
However, with the free, compulsory basic and secondary education policy, as contained in the report submitted to the Governor Ganduje by the sub-committee on out-of-school children survey 2019, it was noted that as a result of various intervention programmes the serious drop becomes inevitable.
The survey by the sub-committee was conducted across all the 44 local government areas in the state on house-to-house basis, using village/ward heads under the district heads of each local government area with a view to generating a comprehensive and reliable data that will enable government to effectively implement the laudable free education policy According to the report, from the total number of 410,873 out-of-school children in the state, 275,917 are boys, that represents 67% and 134,956 are girls, representing 33%.
No one is doubting the importance of basic education as the mainstay of all levels of education. And bearing in mind that the Ganduje administration spent the last four years implementing educational policies and programmes and adopting ground-breaking policies to tackle the various issues militating against functioning of the education sector, the free education policy will go a long way not only in consolidating such gains but also set the standard in policy formulation and implementation in the sector.
The political will and courage by Ganduje to holistically pursue the implementation of the policy is a clear deviation from the norm where the policy does not go beyond mere declaration and using it by others as a platform to siphon public funds. This is because apart from financial issues that prove to be part of the greatest challenges in the implementation of free primary education in Nigeria, operating the policy had been very hard for government at all levels since it is a matter of political convenience rather than planned education development.
It was Governor Ganduje’s conviction that for the free and compulsory primary education to be life-like, there is the enthralling need for the unmitigated construction and renovation of infrastructure in primary schools in addition to policies and programmes aimed at enhancing the teaching and learning atmosphere.
Apart from accessing the counterpart funding which enabled the rehabilitation of classroom blocks, building of libraries, sinking of boreholes, provision of over 15,000 pupils’ furniture, instructional materials, etc. Governor Ganduje also came up with idea of the Community Promotion Committee (EPC) both at the state level and in all the 44 local government areas which has been able to rehabilitate thousands of blocks of classrooms, provision of seats and as well as various instructional materials. Last month, the committee was given the sum of N880, 942,432.38 million for the renovation of primary schools in all the 44 local government areas of the state. Each local government area in the state was given N20 million to execute the renovation project.
Intrinsically linked to this policy is the issue of Quar’anic and Islamiyya schools for which statistics has indicated that there are 13,619 of these schools with over 2.5 million pupils. In order to streamline these schools and integrate them into the free and compulsory education programme, Kano state government has set up Qur’anic and Islamiyyah Schools Management Board. This is how it should be to avoid ad-hocism that dots our policy environment, where discipline of execution has become a huge challenge.
Just last week, the Ganduje administration distributed letters of appointment to 60 ‘Alarammas’ (Tsangaya school teachers) recently employed by the state to facilitate the integration of Almajiri system of education in the state whom have been deployed to the 15 existing Alamjiri schools across the state.
The Kano state government at the October 2019 education summit abolished the payment of school fees in all public secondary schools with effect from September 2019. Accordingly, government has commenced the direct funding of such schools numbering 1180 with a total students’ population of 834,366 at a total cost of about 200 million naira per month or 2.4 billion naira per annum. The state government has equally strengthened its free school feeding programme and free uniforms to newly enrolled pupils.
Another milestone is in response to the existing statistics that poverty is one of the greatest impediments to enrollment, retention and completion of schools, especially of the teaming girls. The state government launched yet another season of disbursement of girls’ scholarships to 16,763 girls who are identified as among the most vulnerable in 6 LGAs as well as some orphans identified by their School Support Officers as well as distribution of Joining Instructions to 50 prospective students for admission into our Bilingual College in Niamey, Niger Republic with the state government totally in charge of their transportation to and from the school, as well as their routine upkeep and safety. This is in addition to the disbursement of computers towards ICT appreciation, assorted text books to all the primary schools in the state, school furniture to 500 selected primary schools etc.
Kano state education initiative is significant for the country for a number of reasons. Three years after the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) and the promise to provide universal primary and secondary education, there has been no progress in reducing the global number of out-of-school children, adolescents and youth.
While the Ganduje administration remains committed to human capital development through budgetary allocation and utilization in the implementation of free and compulsory education in the state, it is also demonstrating that indeed education will, in the main, makes Kano a free education society.