Yakubu Ibrahim Hamza is the Chairman of Bauchi State Special Schools Board. He speaks with ALI GARBA in this interview on the activities of the board and the effort of the Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar-led administration to transform the state’s education system.
How would you assess the level of development of education in the state and the activities of the Board in the running of the special schools?
When this administration came on board, the entire education sector was in shamble, there was the dearth of infrastructure in almost all institutions of learning. Teaching and learning were at their lowest ebb, while students’ performance in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and NECO Senior School Certificate Examination were nothing to write home about.
The average performance in the two examinations in 2015, when Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar assumed the mantle of leadership of the state, was 0.3 per cent of students who passed with five credits, including English and Mathematics. The Abubakar-led administration has to take the bull by the horns in the education sector, and as we speak, the administration has within two or so of its stewardship revolutionised the sector, and today one can proudly boast that students’ performance in the state schools in the two examinations that I mentioned earlier has risen from 0.3 per cent in 2015 to 27 per cent in 2017.
This is no doubt a great achievement within such a short period of time. Of course, we in the special schools board have since the inception of this administration or specifically when we assumed office at the board, in view of the priority the governor accorded education, placed special interest in the running of the special schools by meeting all our needs.
These needs are specifically provision of infrastructural facilities such as new school building blocks or classrooms buildings, renovation of existing structures, provision of educational books and materials, students’ desks, improved teachers’ welfare, and above all adequate security of students in their respective schools.It is now crystal clear that the governor has been doing everything humanly possible to raise the standard of education in the state.
In the last WAEC and NECO examinations, for instance, our special schools’ students recorded 90 per cent pass with five credits in English and Mathematics, and this is a great feat, and we have every confidence that the average scores in the two examinations in future especially with the special schools will continue to rise.
Are you saying the improvement was carried out across all the special schools in the state?
Of course, these achievements I am talking about encompass all our eight special schools located across the state. Let me start with the Special Secondary School at Sakwa, the most pressing problem bedeviling the school is inadequate accommodation for teachers and same thing applied to the Government College, Azare, where some of the teachers’ houses were devastated and requiring renovation, complete reconstruction or building of new ones.
There was one of those dilapidated quarters in the college (House 1), which I lived during my teaching career as a teacher in the school and ever since I vacated the house, it has not been occupied for almost 20 years due to its state of dilapidation. But, when it was renovated sometimes last year, the school principal had to move into the building, while the Vice Principal is also occupying the other renovated quarters. Similarly, the Abubakar-led administration has provided all infrastructural needs to the special schools, ranging from teachers’ quarters to classrooms and student hostels or dormitories, as well as the school kitchen.
But, how conducive is teaching and learning process in the special schools?
Let me add here that it may interest you to know that recently the state’s special schools participated in a zonal and national education competition, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. Bauchi State special schools, which were represented by Jibril Aminu Special Secondary School emerged the North East overall winner of the competition and represented the zone at the national stage of the competition held in Abuja. Participants at the national competition were representatives of the six geo-political zones of the federation, and with the FCT that gave seven categories or teams in the grand event.
The national competition has four federal colleges, the School for the Talented that represented the FCT, one St. Louis College, a private school from either the South East or South-South, and Jibril Aminu Secondary School, the only public institution from all the states in the federation.
Interestingly, the Jibril Aminu School defeated four of the seven schools that participated in the contest to clinch the third position in the competition. This achievement by our special school is attributable to the support and encouragement the state governor is giving to the schools and the board in particular. So, on the part of the board, we are doing everything humanly possible to ensure the rejuvenation of the sub-sector in our own interest and that of leaders of tomorrow.
In other specific terms, what achievements has the board under your watch recorded in the past three years?
The board under the present dispensation has achieved a lot as a result of the moral and financial support being given to it by the Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar-led administration like I have mentioned earlier. For example, the governor introduced what we called 2E programme, which means ‘Eye On Education.’
It is a policy designed to conduct routine inspection visits to special schools and by extension all primary and secondary schools in the state. I was the representative of the special schools board in the state-wide ‘Eye on Education’ programme and it started with the eight special schools under our board before it was subsequently expanded to no fewer than 50 schools across the state.
At the end of every month, the team under the programme inspects all the 50 schools with a view to identifying their problems and where necessary solving them. And, where such problems surpass the programme or 2E team, we request the intervention of the state government be it morally or financially. And based on the magnitude of the problem, at times we advise the respective or concerned schools to solve such problem. Again, where such schools are unable to do that, the board would then come in to see how we can address it.
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